BlizzCon – The After Party

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BlizzCon: We Own The Night. The After Party.

Photos by Cord Montgomery

 

A journalist on the verge of a gaming adventure…

BlizzCon: I shuffle through Anaheim’s Downtown Disney District a little after 9pm. The knitted beanie I’m sporting is quickly becoming a nuisance as the Southern California heat wave continues to crackle through November—the only hint of the looming winter season are Christmas lights strung across rooftops of shops and restaurants. Teenage girls in Mickey Mouse ears pluck at cotton candy and cackle among themselves, stopping to curiously gaze at giant monitors highlighting fantastical wizards conjuring spells and spaceships rocketing past stars inside the fenced-off exterior of musical venue, The House of Blues. I soon arrive outside a line of people, some of them sporting shimmery blue capes with WESTERN DIGITAL printed on the back, others wearing Kanye West-like sunglasses with twinkling blue LED lights, their toes all impatiently tapping to get into NEWEGG’s, ” We Own The Night” after-party for BlizzCon. BlizzCon is the semi-annual convention held in Anaheim, California that showcases video game innovator, Blizzard’s newest additions of button-mashing splendor to the industry. While Blizzard is best known for cultural phenomenon such as Starcraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft—the after-party is more a cavalcade of the gaming industry as a whole with different vendors showcasing many products, raffle drawings for the latest and greatest tech, and tournaments for games created by various developers featuring gun-toting outlaws and futuristic, dystopian locales.

As I make it to the front of the line, a man slaps a white wristband on me and I travel forward into a bombardment of bass and color. There is nothing but commotion: women sporting Totoro hats and men with foxtails jogging from one booth to the next, eagerly snatching whatever free “swag” they can, some stopping to take pictures with professional video game players and others trying to make quick cash with the wildest keyboard strokes and mouse-clicks. There are a series of booths set up by various companies hocking hard drives and mechanical keyboards, one booth showing off 3D printers’ capabilities with red, plastic re-creations of R2-D2. As I observe the crowd of hundreds trotting back and forth from one computer to the next, it strikes me how the video gaming industry has expanded in recent years, now surpassing the film industry as a profit-making powerhouse and artistic influence worldwide. In recent years, video games have branched out as a legitimate and respected storytelling medium. Hollywood has even ventured into adapting games into major motion pictures, and the professional gaming tournaments have spawned famous trigger-happy players with sponsorships, six-figure cash prizes and recognition now rivaling some professional athletes.
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Illustrated on canvas screens is one of the many game tournaments being held here at We Own the Night, the online multi-player hit League of Legends, where Minotaurs, Golems and Mummies battle it out for supremacy and bragging rights. Young men and women furiously rap their fingers on backlit keys underneath the moonlight as two announcers burst with energy about each spell, combo and explosion to smiling onlookers awaiting their chance to show their stuff and win prizes. I bump into a young man in thick-rimmed glasses, a giant inflatable hammer slung over his left shoulder and he tells me about the recent League of Legends world tournament he attended. It’s becoming clear that to say this game is popular would be painfully understated, the most recent tournament selling out the Staples Center and having an astonishing 32 million viewers worldwide.

I decide to make my way past a Microsoft Surface van and up a flight of stairs leading to the top floor and interior of the House of Blues. Bartenders dribble the last drops of bourbon and Cabernet into the glasses of young men in blue blazers and women with headbands adorned with furry pink cat ears. They stop conversing intermittently to dart their eyes between multiple computer screens as people play through numerous games close to the bar. Across the room, others are taking pictures with a model in a buccaneer’s outfit, in front of an ACER computer backdrop. I open a large wooden door leading onto a New Orleans-inspired balcony overlooking a main stage where a young man and woman sift through raffle tickets, calling out winners for game consoles and top of the line motherboards. There are groans of disappointment as they frantically rifle through numbers that don’t match the people near me or myself, a Playstation 4 being raffled off to someone a mere number below me, then they convene into another video game tournament of Xbox One’s Titanfall where players jetpack over rooftops in robotic suits firing assault rifles and grenades to bloody their opponents.
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I step outside a doorway leading to the only stop I have yet to explore. A patio area surrounded by plants and green lights is having its cement shaken by the remixes of DJ Missy B, flickering her fingers across dials and knobs as people jump and shuffle to the rumbles of the bass. I snap a few photos and return back inside to see a larger crowd forming around the Titanfall contestants. As I watch the stage lights flash greens and purples across strained faces, all of them so focused and intense, I can’t help but look in awe at these joystick-spinning teens and twenty-somethings. The incredible hand-eye coordination these modern video games require is so beyond my Super Nintendo skill level that watching them dodge past missiles and bullets is an exciting and humbling sight to witness (and the idea of me attempting to not be annihilated within seconds of picking up a controller in a competition such as this would be just as comparable to trying out for the Green Bay Packers and expecting to lead them to a Super Bowl). There truly is a profound talent to it all, albeit underappreciated to most unfamiliar with video games. Frequently, a professional gamers career has more turnaround than professional sports (many players’ careers never spanning past their twenties due to a natural decrease in reflexes).

I head to the bar and order a gin and tonic, sipping and reveling in the bloodbath unfurling on large canvas screens before me. Cheers and grunts are emanating from the crowd—sweat plunging down the foreheads of some, clenched fists and cries of joys coming from others. The timer on the screen ticks down as the urgency lingers thick in the room—large prizes and reputations inches from reach—and bearing witness to the anxiety and agony of each elimination and unexpected death at the hands of these competitor’s rivals, I don’t envy these players, and decide that I’m better served sticking with Pac-man. Thus ends my gamers adventure. At least for tonight …

 

The EVENT

November 4, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA – Newegg, the leading tech-focused e-retailer in North America, today announced the return of its ‘We Own the Night™’ after-party extravaganza at the House of Blues in Anaheim on November 7, following the first day of BlizzCon 2014. The after-party event is open to the public, with a host of fun activities and entertainment, including musical guest Dev. Newegg partners, including MSI, ASUS, Corsair, Logitech, Mad Catz and Western Digital will have on-site giveaways and contests with opportunities to check out a selection of their latest products.

“BlizzCon is one of the biggest and most exciting annual events for gamers and Newegg is happy to keep the excitement going once again with the return of our ‘We Own the Night’ after party,” said Soren Mills, Chief Marketing Officer of Newegg North America. “Newegg is coming back to the House of Blues on Friday evening to celebrate with our fans, and we’re bringing along DJs, some fantastic live bands and, of course, games to play and prizes to win.”

The House of Blues opens its doors at 7 p.m. on Friday night, kicking off the ‘We Own the Night’ event with the help of DJ Missy B and DJ Vince. Indie music sensation Dev will also perform on the main stage at 8 p.m., followed by an extra special surprise guest band.

A host of great games—including big titles like Titanfall, StarCraft II, League of Legends and Hearthstone—will be playable at the event, alongside early playable versions of the highly anticipated indie space-combat simulators Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous. Guests can sign up to compete in a Titanfall tournament hosted by video games editorial site, GameCrate. Qualifying rounds will run from 7-10 p.m., and the best teams will compete from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. for a chance to win an All-in-One Gaming PC and other prizes, courtesy of MSI. Tournament entrants must be at least 18 years old to participate. For younger attendees, Newegg is providing an alcohol-free area.

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