*These thoughts are mine and mine alone. Anyone else who says the same thing is copying me*
On the very same eve as the 2013 New York Comic Con, instead of heading north with my other two ToH brethen, I headed out in a different direction as I was headed to a different venue for the weekend. I was headed to the GXL resurrection, a LAN event while also doubled as the re-birth of the venue as it had been on hiatus for the last few years. In fact the last event was back in 2011 and prior to that in 2009. So what exactly is the GXL? Well to put it simply, the GXL is an event that is the love child of several gaming organizations from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the traditional sense think of a LAN party but on a grander scale, similar to something that you would encounter at a QuakeCon or Dreamhack event.
Everything that you could look forward to a LAN event was there. Free prizes, “Pro” tournaments for Counter Strike:GO, League of Legends and Team Fortress as well as other tournaments for DotA2, Left 4 Dead, Unreal Tournament 2004, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Super Street Fighter 4:AE, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Super Mario Power Tennis and much much more. Speaking of which, a big shout out to gaming clans Hold My Purse, SolidFrag, Nexus, Vicious, and Jack3d for making a showing at the event and competing in it. I also want to offer thanks to our own “Fighting Game Community” activist, Holland “Nitro” Culbreat who lent a hand by not only running the fighting game brackets but also competed in them. Thanks again buddy!
Did I forget to mention the quirky side events? Ranging from a Skittles contest where the best design won to a underwear wearing contest, where the winner took home a brand new Intel processor. Yes folks, an underwear contest where you had to get the underwear package opened, then you had to sprint to the bathroom to strip down to nothing and put the underwear and your shoes on and finally sprint back to the main stage….. with a catch. There were 4 participants and the bathroom only had two stalls. Madness my friends was an understatement.
Prizes, prizes, who’s got the prizes? The GXL, that’s who! Everything from keyboards, gaming mice, processors, carrying bags, PC cases, power supplies, mother boards, gaming routers, headphones and even a HDTV. All provided by the following sponsors; Trendnet, MicroCenter, Coolermaster, FrozenQPCmods, Dust-Off, Jason Howard Books and CipherPrime (Indie creators of Auditorium & Splice). Prizes were awarded to those who entered the Pro and standard tournaments, as well to those who completed in the side events and raffles so everyone had a chance to win.
They even had custom trophies for the winners of the tournaments, really nice ones at that. I’m sort of jealous that I wasn’t on a team, I would have been a nice addition to a DotA2 team. Ah well, there’s always next time.
Regardless if this was your first time at any lan or if you were a casual lan-goer, the GXL staff was helpful, friendly and if not quirky. Doing their best to make sure that everyone had a great time at the event and offering advise on every aspect, including where to get some food at 1AM in the morning. Got to handle those munchies when gaming 24/7.
There was even a PC give-away at the events. Two lucky attendants won PC’s valued at $2100 that were donated by MicroCenter and included the following specs;
- Intel Core i7-4770K
- Asus Z87 Pro
- Intel 335 Seies 180 SSD
- Corsair 2x4GB 1866 Kit
- Zotac GTX 660Ti
- Corsair 600T Case
- BenQ Gaming Monitor.
Not to shabby to say the least. Congrats to the winners of these beasts. May you continue to love gaming and kick much ass with it.
There was even a Christmas town setup, I kid you not. Several people setup their section to look like a Christmas town, complete with the lights, snowmen and music. Check it out below.
All in all I had a decent time and other than me catching a cold and feeling like crap the day after, I did enjoy myself as did the various other gamers who attended. I got to meet new people and even had a chance to talk it up regarding topics that affect us gamers and even learn a thing or two in the process. I mean where else can you have someone yelling across a room that a dinosaur is eating him only to have someone else yell back “I got you dude”! Epic indeed!
Now while the event was a success and hopefully there will be more of them in the upcoming months (Years?) there are several items that definitely need to be worked on to make the event even better. Now I love those guys that organize the GXL events and I hope they take these recommendations for what it’s worth.
- Dedicated PCs for tournaments. They really need to setup a “Pro” area where there are at least 10 PC’s that are setup for tournament use only. These does several things; Keeps the tournaments flowing since the PC’s would already be patched and updated, it would also allow vendors to show off their PCs or components. I don’t know of a single company would doesn’t like free advertisement.
- More game organization. I’ll admit I was also guilty of this but when at a LAN event you really don’t want to see gamers playing games on the internet exclusively. While I was there I say tons of players either playing World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy:ARR and so forth. Sure I understand that specific games such as DOTA2 or League of Legends need internet access to get games started but when you have LAN access to many other games you need to find a way to get gamers to play on the LAN was the net. Now this is no fault of the GXL as many developers anymore neglect to put LAN support in their games or worse they advertise LAN support but still require you to access the internet… I”l looking at you Valve.
- More center stage events. As colorful as the gracious host, Kyle “Wild” Turk, is there was definitely something missing. In the past the event hosted bands and was a lively center piece, this needs to come back. Hell I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see some bands such as the Protomen or Armcannon to name a few to perform live at the event. It may be a stretch but definitely worth a shot. Even some local talent to showcase themselves would be an awesome premier.
- Reach out to the Indie developers. Indie developers love knowing that we love their games and I know a handful of them would definitely agree to either come to the event to pitch their game or to get insights from gamers at the event.
- More Advertisement. This more than anything else, dear GOD this.While there were was a huge mass of gamers I truly think if the event was marketed more, we’ll there would have been more gamers at the event. Case in point; As I was leaving the event I stopped at the local Wawa to get something to eat before I headed back home. A gentleman by the name of “Dave” approached me and asked me what the badge was around my neck was. He proceeded to ask was it some kind of gaming tournament and I began to explain about the event, where it was located and what it was about. His face lit up and began to ask more questions as not only was he a gamer but he was also a Indie developer and was in the process of creating his own game with the Unity3D engine. We proceeded to talk about the next-gen consoles, PC’s and the SteamOS. Case in point if I happen to run into Dave, if there was more advertisement, how many more would have shown up?
The GXL resurrection was definitely a step in the right direction and I’m glad that an east coast favorite of mine had decided to come back from the dead. Sure there were some signs of rust but I have no doubt that those areas will be polished out in the near future. We all as gamers would love to have a GXL 2014 event, so gang if you’re reading this, make it happen!