I first heard of Destructoid in late 2006 and I've been lurking on Dtoid since mid 2007, though I only got around to actually signing up in early 2009.
Due to my unfortunate habit of talking and writing far, far too much and losing track of why I started in the first place, I tend to stay clear of the C-blogs for fear of finding myself up at 4am writing a three-page essay on Legend Of Dragoon, but I'll probably write the occasional rant, to everyone's dismay.
Quick shout out and mention for Love 146, a fantastic charity dealing with a very tough subject. Give them a click, listen to their story and please support them if you can.
Monday the 15th of August 2011, roughly 6PM. I arrived at the home of Hollie Bennett and Daniel Seto with two large suitcases, packed but in no way prepared for the week that would follow. We were bound for Köln, Germany, to visit and report on gamescom 2011, the world's larget video games trade fair.
Hollie Bennett and Daniel Seto, of BritToid fame, get some hands-on time with Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS
By now you've undoubtably seen the many videos and articles that we've produced for Destructoid's front page over the last week or so. If you haven't then go look at them now; there's links to them at the bottom of this blog post as well as throughout. As such I'm not going to talk about the games we saw and played. There's no further insight I could offer into what to expect from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim than our video interview already provides; I'm not going to tell you how LollipopChainsaw looked when there's a preview of it already on the site. If, however, you would like to indulge me as I ramble about why going to gamescom with Dtoid EU is the best decision you could make, read on.
Publishers gave out tons of goodies to the public all week
If I have to tell you why the Destructoid community as a whole is so good then you must be very new here. It takes all of five minutes to work out that this is probably the best collection of video game fanatics in the world. What may not be quite so obvious at first glance is how great the European portion of the community is.
I had the pleasure of meeting most of the EU community at last year's Eurogamer Expo, but there were still a few faces I had not met before now. Having now met almost everyone, I'm glad to report that I like every single one of the cheeky bastards. This trip really would not have been remotely the same without them. Obviously there's too many people to name individually; just know that if you went to gamescom, if you're part of Dtoid EU, then I love you. I thank you all, for the late night bullshitting, the meals out, for helping me with my ridiculously large suitcase, for helping me keep up when I was sick that first day, for being the only people with the balls to risk looking stup-er, sexy, on the dance floor.
Dtoid EU lands in Germany
By now you should be well aware that it wasn't just community members that went to Germany and we weren't all there for a holiday. Seven of us went as an official event team to see the latest games and bring you all the news, previews, impressions and interviews from gamescom.
Hollie Bennett and Daniel Carneiro have been your presenters in front of the camera, myself and Royston Malcomber were their cameramen, Jamie McGinn and Maurice Tan have been writing up a storm and Ian Roberts, poor bugger, spent the best part of a week sat in a media room editing everything together for you and barely got an hour on the show floor for himself. Daniel and Roy also did a lot of video editing.
Obviously I think Hollie and I did a good job, but having now been able to sit at home and properly go through everything else that's been put on the front page, my congratulations go to the rest of the team as well. There's a hell of a lot of great content on there for you all and it's these six (and me!) you have to thank for that.
Three guesses why Wargaming.net's booth was everyones' favourite
I don't like sharing rooms. I like quiet, I like to have my own space away from any other people. I like to get a solid eight or more hours of sleep each night.
Sharing room 414 of Hostel Köln with Daniel Carneiro, Royston Malcomber and Ian Roberts, as well as the many other members of the community and team who selected our room to be the group hangout area at 2AM, was by far and away the highlight of the week for me. I have never laughed so hard and so frequently, I've never cared so little about living on three hours' sleep each night.
My only regret is that I was not able to bring a computer with me so I was not able to help with the workload on those very late nights. How the other three managed it, I have no idea. Every night I was falling asleep while the others were still putting the finishing touches on the videos you've all been watching on the front page. I was rarely the first to wake either. I'm telling you, those three are superheroes of video editing.
Even during the last hour of the last day, they didn't stop working
Köln and gamescom
Having never been abroad before I wasn't exactly looking forward to this trip, especially since I have endless problems with food and don't speak a single word of the language. Rather fortunate then that Köln would turn out to be such an easy place to stay in. If you're at all tempted to go to gamescom but put off by the idea of staying in Germany, don't be. The food's great (and cheap!), everywhere's friendly, the majority of people there do seem to understand English and it's surprisingly pretty for a city. The cathedral in particular is quite a sight, greeting you as you leave Köln HBF station.
Best of all though is how the city welcomes gamescom. Tickets to the event grant you free transport, the city is covered in posters, flyers and flags for both video games and the event itself are everywhere and on one particular night a street was taken over by Nintendo trailers and booths. Despite their reputation for banning anything operated by a controller, Germany really appreciates video games.
Marcus Fenix, as modelled on John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone's lovechild
A big thank you has to go to all the lovely developers, publishers, the men and women in PR, writers, artists and even bar staff who all made gamescom so enjoyable. I have no doubt I would have keeled over had it not been for your supplies of caffeine-heavy soft drinks (though I apologise to the guys at CD Projekt RED that I somehow managed to get quite tipsy after one beer. I'm a total lightweight when I haven't eaten. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).
People often complain that the video game industry is full of money-hungry evil overloads of doom. Everyone who is reading this has, at some point I'm sure, thought that a particular publisher or developer consists of twisted angels of the netherworld who would stab a newborn child in the throat in order to get another penny. In reality, having now met what feels like a giant chunk of the most important people in the industry, I'll happily declare the games industry to be the most enjoyable to work within.
As much stress as everyone was clearly under, I never heard a single raised voice or argument, everybody did their respective jobs and most importantly every single person we met very, very clearly really cared about the games they were showing off. Obviously they have to say they think their game is the best thing to come out all decade, but refreshingly and surprisingly none of them ever came across as though they were forcing it.
I've seen behind closed doors, we spoke bluntly and both on and off the record with PR managers, community managers, developers, designers, artists, writers, directors and publishers. Every single one of them obviously loves what they do. You could not hope for a friendlier working environment.
Who says everyone in the games industry is evil?
I love this woman. Working with Hollie through the week was an absolute pleasure; I doubt I would have coped had it not been for her guidance, confidence and boundless (if cola-fueled) energy. Whether it was certain publishers not keeping to our booked appointments, ridiculously early-morning starts, the insanely packed show floor, putting up with my clueless behaviour or horrific technical setbacks, she greeted everything with a smile and maintained her professionalism constantly (okay, except when we visited the Wappy Dog booth).
Never was this both more apparent and vital as when, halfway through filming the wrap-up video for the second day of gamescom, the memory card I was using corrupted. It wasn't until some hours later that we discovered the card had corrupted so badly that we couldn't even format it or perform data recovery; everything we had filmed on the second day was lost for good. Hollie, ever fearless, immediately got on the phone to the various publishers whos' interviews had been lost and booked us in to do every interview again in a measly two-hour slot the following morning.
When we set out the next morning for our hastily-booked 9AM start, I honestly did not think we would be able to get everything done. We had just two hours to film every interview from the second day again plus get to the first of our many day three appointments. When we arrived the crowd waiting to get in was so large that it wasn't until ten minutes after our first appointment was supposed to have started that we were even able to enter the main building, and that included waving our press passes and pushing through the masses.
We started late with two days' worth of work packed in to one. We finished an hour ahead of schedule. Every interview we re-shot was even better than the original take.
Ms. Bennett is an incredible person and talent. I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have worked with her and Destructoid is very lucky and privileged to have her.
Girl loves her some Ezio
It was exhausting, stressful, frightening, at times physically painful and towards the end I think I began to lose my mind a little. I wasn't able to eat or sleep properly, I've never sweated so much and if I see one more Coke bottle it will be thirty years too soon.
If I could go back and do it all again I wouldn't want to change a single second of it.
Destructoid, Dtoid EU, Köln, gamescom and Hollie Bennett: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the very best week of my life.
I sorely regret not scheduling in time to play this