Gathered outside the Western Province Cricket Club in Newlands, eagerly awaiting the moment the doors would open to allow them inside to the launch of Electronic Art’s (EA) Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a growing mass of avid gamers. Parked in the lot was a Nissan 350z, turning heads with its gleaming body of burnished orange. When the doors finally swung open a long queue formed, as names were carefully ticked off a long list – indicative of the anticipation that surrounded the event, as well as the good turnout.
MWEB GameZone, Musica, EA South Africa, Apex Interactive SA, CubeIT, eGamer, Gecosports and Mountain Dew were at the starting line for the launch. Hosted in conjunction with the one-year anniversary event for 2UpGamers, the night capped a year jam-packed with events for dedicated gamers starting last year on 4 November 2011 with their Inaugural Gathering. Co-founder Glenn Alexander lifted the crowd with his buoyant sprit – not that the enthusiastic crowd needed much lifting – as he dished out plenty of introductions and thanks yous. Despite their yearning to continue gaming, there were plenty of laughs and good-natured jibes from the crowd. The anniversary event saw a remarkable improvement in the turnout since their debut event last year, escalating from only 40 people at the end of 2011 to over 100 on Friday night. Plasma screens were stationed around the rooms, rigged to gaming consoles – their controls lying forlornly still, waiting for ardent gamers to snatch them up and really rev up the night. There was also a great selection of food – plenty for everyone – and a bar with prices that you wish the rest of Cape Town would adopt.
Glenn recapped the year, and the events they hosted in particular, graciously thanking the supporting gamers and sponsors. Some of the latter spoke briefly and gave away prizes – such as Apex Interactive who were showcasing their new Turtle Beach products and gave away three headsets to randomly selected audience members; while others had lengthier presentations – fairly fruitless, as the majority of the crowd were raring to have another go at the games.
The big drawcard was the opportunity to compete for various prizes – especially the top prize of a Playstation 3 and a copy of the game. The Speed Demon Challenge provided gamers the opportunity of beating Ashley Oldfield’s – Top Car’s online editor – record lap time. The Pro-Challenge Face-Off paired gamers with stunt driver Allen Irwin – winners walking off with select prizes. A never-ending line of gamers went up against Allen and one or two do did actually manage to defeat him. I tried a few laps myself, slipping into the driver’s seat of a white Porsche 911 Carrera. The game is fast and fun but endlessly frustrating, finding myself (and others) doing a lot more crashing than cruising – joyfully, at times, into an oncoming police car. Gamers also gathered for a FIFA13 Tournament, while others battled it out on the streets – virtually of course – with Super Street Fighter IV (although personally I’m too old school to appreciate martial artist characters being enhanced with showy, “techno” powers).
It was a long night, to say the least. The endless list of names and introductions did become a bit tiresome (especially as the crowd became restless), but naturally quite necessary to the organisers of the event. T-Shirts and Mountain Dew were handed out to everyone who attended and overall it was a success with a jovial and friendly vibe. The only big letdown was the moment I had to climb into my car, pull out of the parking lot and hit the road at what felt like a comatose snail’s pace.
Photographs courtesy of www.zombiegamer.co.za