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Friday, October 5, 2007

The World Cyber Games, and the Eight People Who Came To Watch

posted by on October 5 at 12:03 PM

Those World Cyber Games I wrote about yesterday? They didn’t get off to a great start:


This was the scene at the 5:45 p.m. opening ceremony, and though the chairs in the back of the room were full of international gaming competitors, the general seating looked like the above photo. Barren. That’s how the Qwest Field Event Center felt through much of Thursday (an odd day to invite the public out, certainly). People didn’t show up, and even if they did, they would’ve gotten a very mixed message as to what the hell this gaming competition was all about.

Strangely, the competition part wasn’t the priority, as most entrants were pushed into a thin, second-floor stretch of PCs with little room for the public to come up and watch. The first floor, meanwhile, was dominated by Microsoft’s gaming PR blitz, as dozens of Xbox 360 and computer kiosks lined the general floor.


In addition, a few giant projector screens were posted on the first floor above beanbag chairs, where the WCG’s live Internet feed of the competition was beamed for all to watch. This is the equivalent of watching a Mariners game on a concession stand TV at Safeco Field.

I would’ve loved to hear a showgoer’s take on the show in my few hours at Qwest Field, but I didn’t run into any on Thursday. Every person I saw had a badge labeled competitor, press or sponsor. So I made up for it by chatting with Valve Software’s Eric Twelker, who was there to show off the company’s new “Left 4 Dead” zombie-killing game (not bad, by the way).

“I know that previous WCGs worked out in places like Europe, where the diehard fans could take a train and be in, say, Italy in two hours,” Twelker said, implying the better reputation of professional gaming throughout Europe. “I don’t think people are jetting here from Los Angeles or New York the same way.”

This weekend could be better as word spreads about easy access to free online ticket vouchers and the WCG begins its more heated competitions (Thursday and Friday lack the big elimination/championship rounds). Hopefully by then, the event will have worked out its absolutely awful kinks. The entry gate situation was a disaster, as a poor, 70-year-old man stood at the main gate all by himself, shaking his head in bewilderment for a good four minutes when I asked him where I could pick up a pass. Some of the gaming kiosks were busted, particularly the Rock Band station, whose drum kit was broken only three hours into the event. And the opening ceremony was a joke, kicked off by a B-Boy dance/beatbox routine that seemed straight out of Saved By The Bell.

But the prognosis is bleak. The WCG has blown its chance at spotlighting most of its pro gamers by shuffling them into a small, upstairs wing, which means even if people show up, they’ll just think the event is a junior arcade. They won’t see the moments I saw, like a gang of Singaporean players, all in matching jackets, staring down and studying the Swedish team during a PC game practice session. Shit’s surprisingly intense…if you know where to look.

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Who are you?

Posted by mabel | October 5, 2007 12:19 PM

wii don't care

Posted by PGC | October 5, 2007 12:27 PM

You'd think an event like this would be a showcase of style and good taste. Can someone investigate to see what could have gone wrong?

Posted by elenchos | October 5, 2007 12:31 PM

If I wanted to watch someone play video games, I can do it for free.

Posted by Gitai | October 5, 2007 2:03 PM

Couldn't Paul Allen pay a bunch of Pioneer Street people (or better, buy them outright!) and fill all those sorry chairs in his ego-spooge palace?

Posted by Waddy Darbucks | October 5, 2007 2:25 PM

C'mon...did you not get any footage of that opening ceremony?!! That seems like the undisputable highlight of the event...even a grainy cellphone video...*ANYTHING!!!* Hell, I guess I'll just have to watch this instead...

Take that "Drugfucked"!!! What do you know about the dangers of caffeine?!!

Posted by cunei4m | October 5, 2007 2:49 PM

I know what was wrong. This guy who wrote this blog wasn't even there at world cyber games. I was actually part of the opening show. A dance team went up at about 6:00, the purpose of the dance show was to bring everyone into the seats so that after the dance performance the Korean Delegate could speak about the event. Those seats filled up in about 10 minutes after that guy was talking. No joke.

Posted by Guy that was there | October 7, 2007 12:43 AM

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