Over the course of the last few years, we've managed to make our way to a countless number of events all over the country. Without question, one of the highlights of each year would have to be QuakeCon. Whereas the foundation of most events is based around a vendor showcasing their latest products, the foundation of QuakeCon is entirely different. Here, the event is based around gamers and is intended as a way to give back to the gaming community. From the LAN party consisting of a few thousand hardcore gamers to the late night parties in random hotel rooms, every aspect of QuakeCon is about having a good time with friends and getting in a few frags on the latest and greatest games.
As we count down the hours until we land in Dallas, we can't help but wonder how this year will manage to top years past. Obviously, the LAN party itself has grown an incredible amount over the last few years. What was once a collection of a few hundred gamers has now grown to an onslaught of a few thousand of the country's most hardcore gaming enthusiasts. Over the years, iD Software has also had some memorable times such as the launch of the highly anticipated title Doom 3. In similar fashion, this year iD will be giving QuakeCon attendees a preview of the multiplayer component of Quake 4. Beyond product launches and random amusing happenings each year, there is also Hard|OCP's hardware workshop. At the workshop, attendees get an in-depth look at the latest and greatest hardware and get insight from several key figures in the industry. Now, anyone that knows Kyle of HardOCP knows that there has to be some sort of dramatic spin on things to keep the workshop interesting. Who can forget the image (and movie) of Kyle displaying the meager internals of a Phantom gaming console to the crowd before crushing the plastic vaporware with a giant mallet in his best Gallagher impersonation? Its things like this that keeps people coming to QuakeCon each year and we can't even begin to imagine what sorts of things this year has in store.
Despite having gone to the last four QuakeCons, we never fail to be amazed and overwhelmed by the sheer number of people waiting in line for the BYOC. Here, there is always a phenomenal line of people with an eclectic mix of hardware ranging from state of the art uber rigs complete with sexy LCD's, to archaic tan boxes and enormous CRT monitors. In similar fashion, the gamers themselves are a bizarre mix to say the least. From the rowdy and young to the reserved and old, there is a unique sampling of people waiting in line to frag one another. Walking from end to end, there is no limit to what you might see. Girls covered in tattoos (we originally thought it was a shirt!), husky guys wearing clothes infinitely too small, and one of the most pristine and amazing super-mullets of all time are just a few of the more memorable sights from this year.
Once we had finally managed to get through registration and account for all the gear we were lugging in, we walked through the main doors and witnessed an ocean of tables and network cables. sufficient for a few thousand hardcore gamers. Fortunately, Kyle and the gang at HardOCP had managed to reserve us some spots in their group and we were soon up and running some BattleField 2 to ease the frustrations from registration.
Unfortunately, the last sentence above was a bit premature. You see, with this many computer-savvy people in one place something is bound to go awry. Sure enough, some systems somehow became infected with a malicious worm which would crash Battlefield 2 and force random reboots. Luckily for those who suffered this fate, the group running the show at QuakeCon was more than prepared and soon had burned CD's and distributed them throughout the hall with all of the appropriate files necessary to clean the worm and get everyone up and running. Little things like this remind us all that QuakeCon is NOT your local LAN party and is run by an exceptional group of dedicated professionals. Keeping more than 4,000 gamers happy and online is not an easy task, and nobody does a better job than the gang at the NOC.
One of the greatest aspects of QuakeCon is seeing hardware vendors put the PR machines on hold for a few days and actually take part in the gaming community. Both Brian Burke and Andrew Fear from NVIDIA stopped by our area to get a few rounds of Battlefield 2 under their belt. We can't begin to express how impressed we were to sit down and game with these guys without a single word regarding NVIDIA or any hardware whatsoever being spoken. Instead, we were following each other through the various maps trying to hold off the enemy and laughing hysterically at our collective failures and successes. From people who typically has to endure countless hours of PowerPoint dribble and marketing fluff each year, it's no wonder that QuakeCon is one of our favorite events.