The Shriner's auditorium began to fill up quickly, as each gamer quickly staked out their own area. The systems were plugged in and connected to the servers using switches and other gear provided by D-Link for the event. The systems ranged from the mundane to the outlandish, and many users lugged in the CRT monitors which outnumbered LCD screens by a healthy margin. We noticed that some gamers tried to bring some "mojo" with them from home, as they had figurines and other paraphernalia located on or around their cases and monitors.
While energy levels were high, the air in the auditorium seemed somewhat subdued, as if many of the event's attendees were not quite sure what to expect. By mid-morning, however, gaming was in full-swing, which was not limited to typical multi-player titles such as Unreal Tournament 2004 or Battlefield 1942. We saw at least one Red Sox fan taking a few swings in MVP Baseball 2005 and even more oddly, another guy playing old arcade titles through MAME.
When we found some spare time, we went around with a camera to get some pictures of the more interesting rigs that people brought in. A few participants brought in some watercooled systems, including one custom job using a toolbox and green-dyed coolant. Perhaps one of the coolest systems we encountered was housed entirely within an attache case; no easy feat there. It's really a custom job the likes of which are usually found in the back of magazines like CPU. There were also a few brave folks that brought Macs to the party, including one poor soul who brought in a $7000 Dual G5 system, only to have the system go kaput. Luckily he had an extended warranty, and got the unit fixed after the event. We hear the repair bill would have been almost $2800 has he not had the extended warranty! WOW! Macs, gotta love them, right?
Sometimes, it's not just the rig, but the environment that counts. At least one setup we encountered had controls for just about every game imaginable. Joystick, throttle, razor mouse, you name it, this guy had it all right at his fingertips. There's little doubt that some of these guys (and girls, they were a minority, but some did show) were hardcore gamers who planned on staying up all night, as evidenced by the lime-green Mountain Dew based system on one table and cases of soda strewn about. And notice that a couple of those mini-rigs share the same case. If you'd like to see what they're all about, check out Vinster.Com - they're pretty sweet.
Alas, it seems that not everyone was up to the challenge as night drew near, for we found a few nappers in Red Bull's lounge away from the main fare. There was also a "quiet" room for overnight refreshment, but we New Yorkers dared not venture inside.