We gamers are a special breed, still outcast by mainstream media, often the scapegoat for anti-social behaviour, and widely misplaced by society.
Yet we have an amazing interactive and social hobby that continues to outstrip blockbuster movies in terms of revenue and engagement...
As a highly influencial buying majority we have no where to share our passion in a dedicated public space. Relegated to arcades where the game's graphics haven't improved for 10 years and the prices for a minute's gameplay are unsustainable.
So when I noticed that there was a 'button mash' event in my local city, hosted inside a pub, I leapt at the chance to take a peak.
Firstly I was intrigued in the logistics. How would they keep around 75 people entertained and would the shared public space of the location present a challenge? After all video game consoles can only sustain a few players at a time and a pub in the center of a city is not always going to be filled with just gamers.
We arrived early and witnessed the setup process.
An hour before the event me and my partner met the two people responsible for the event. A student couple with help from one of their mums. While they set up TVs and consoles ready for the night a stubborn table of drinkers from the day would not move from where the xbox 360 was supposed to be. I wonder if they would have prevented a band from setting up?
After 40 minutes of grumbling the drinkers finally moved on to another table in the pub, and people slowly started flowing in around 7pm.
The console setup was:
Over the night we went from console to console playing games together and sometimes in a 4 player configuration with other couples or people attending by themselves.
Some of the games being run were:
Mario Kart Wii
Towards the end of the night was a Mario Kart Wii Tournament. It was the only tournament with a prize for winning. Each round was between 4 players and only the winner would qualify to the next round. Naturally I joined, starting in the first race and a race that I would go on to win, with my partner finishing a close 2nd and unfortanately not qualifying.
There would be 7 first tier races between 4 people creating 7 semi finalists, this time we would be racing Bowsers castle. Dropping behind for most of the race I pulled it back towards the end and kept a cool enough head, to walk it in over the finish line.
Beating 3 semi finalists I was through to the final round. I had been watching all the matches since the start my rival did not rank 1st in every race against the CPUs but had beaten all his human rivals. He was very selective about his character and kart and wore deep set square glasses, was dressed smartly and came across as very intelligent. I had concerns that I wouldn't be able to best this man. He seemed to know the game and mechanics very well.
People in the crowd started to ask my name, as people wanted to know who the final racers were. The crowd surrounded us as we got ready to compete.
The track would be rainbow road. My heart sunk. Rainbow road on the Wii Version of the game is a track that I am not familiar with. We started, plastic wheels strapped around our wii remotes and we were off. I fell behind the other human player, but held 4th position, confident I could bring it back by using the slipstream of karts in front.
Half way through the first lap I fell off the track and the crowd exclaimed "ohhh" as my character plunges into the abyss. I fall behind further and my rival was climbing the ranks in front of me until he fell off himself, which felt like the break I needed.
But on the second lap I do it again "OHHH". The same corner! The ground I had made up had been lost. Finally, the 3rd lap, I lose control on my nightmare corner again, but this time manage to stay on the track only to witness my rival crossing the finish line. I have to continue racing embarrassingly alone until I finish. The girl in front of me looks disappointed, but despite this I know I did well and was pleased to have made the final. I approached my rival and shake his hand. The organisers give us both prizes, I get two badges, one of which, I give to my partner. My rival gets a keyring.
The prizes are small, the organisation is done by a single couple with a passion for gaming on a minimal budget and the result is an amazing experience. My 'rival' is now my Facebook friend as are a couple of other people we gamed with over the evening.
Gaming is a beautiful thing, something we can share and bond over and I believe there's nothing more raw and unadulterated than gaming with your opponents who are right there with the crowd cheering you on.
We are now considering our own 'button mash' event. We will also be looking at other avenues in our journey to create more social acceptance in gaming and to create more amazing events for gamers by gamers.
If you are considering your own gaming event, be sure to register it in our GD events section. If you are interested in helping set up a similar event then please get in touch with us here on GD, especially if it is in or around the South West of England.