Last weekend, I was at Eurogamer 2011. I got to play lots of great games before their release, but that was not the highlight of the weekend. Not in the slightest.
On Thursday, I indeed went around the expo, played a (more than fair) share of games, saw some neat developer sessions and got some great swag. No, plenty of great swag. But on Friday, that changed. I still went to the expo, I even came to the line early and waited patiently for the doors to open. But after the expo and during it, I hung out with some of the coolest people I've ever met.
Thursday was the least busy day of the expo, probably because it was initially a "Preview Day" for press people or something of the like. I actually played more games on this day than I did on the other days, combined. Queues were significantly shorter, developer sessions were not packed and some game stations had no people playing them(!). On this day, I met my first Dtoider - Wayne. We talked, played some fighting games (I beat him at Tekken Tag Tournament HD, he beat the crap out of me in UFC 3 Undisputed), and had fun. I also got a free OnLive Game System.
There were also tanks outside, advertising World of Tanks. Yes, motherfucking tanks.
Friday was different. It was packed. Massively packed. Wanted to play Skyrim? Arkham City? Battlefield 3? Modern Warfare 3? Forget it. On the upside, I met DJ from Valve and I talked to him about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and gave feedback. Great guy! But, the highlight of that day was in the evening, when I went to see Jurassic Park at IMAX UK with some Dtoid folks. I met some of the Destructoid Europe group -- Beccy, Nik, Jamie, Joe, Jake, Gavin, Sam and more -- and we got to see big-ass dinosaurs on a big-ass screen in big-ass digital format.
But, Saturday was the best. I met up with a few more Dtoiders at the expo -- Sean, James, Adam -- and we hung out, talked, played video games (though we usually stuck around in the older games section at a pre-release games expo -- the horror!), and just generally had fun. We went out to eat during lunch-ish and I got to know them better, while they learned of the guy who made it all the way from tiny Israel. I played some Tekken Tag Tournament 2, which was orgasmic. GOTY right there, folks. It's a game I'm going to pre-order, and I barely even buy console games (I'm primarily a PC gamer). Also, I played Street Fighter x Tekken.
Come Saturday evening, we went to the Eurogamer-StickTwiddlers Expo After-Party, where we were a giant Dtoid group - tens of us! We were literally stuffing the upper floor and the open area next to it. It was one of the best nights of my life, easily. I met the Destructoid Europe Community Manager, Hollie Bennett, who's kind of a big deal. She was really surprised I came all the way from Israel and that Destructoid reaches that far. I met a lot more people at the party -- Jordan, Gandy, Aidan, Becca, to name a few -- and had a blast. We goofed around like only the internet's dirty uncle Destructoid can, I made a whole bunch of new friends and some best friends, and I simply had the best night of my life that night.
Oh, and I met Mario and Professor Genki at the expo.
On Sunday, which was the last day for the Dtoid group and the expo (I was already dreading the idea of the weekend ending!) we went to Bodeans and had some meat in and around our mouths. I tried pork for the first time in my life, which, in a cliché way, tasted a whole lot like chicken (surprise!). I didn't do much at the expo then, but I hung out with the Dtoid crew again, laughed at Kinect (lol movement-controlled gaming), and later that day I went for drinks with them. We laughed and had a great time. But, through the evening something bothered me terribly and I ended up talking about it to one of the group, who was a great listener and gave me great advice. She helped me with a genuine, big problem I had and put my mind at ease. For some reason, I felt like I could trust her, and apparently my feeling was correct. Through the evening, I spent some amount of time talking to another specific Dtoider and we became great friends. Great in that way that makes you feel like you're going to remain great friends for a long time, and that it wasn't just an awesome night.
To make a long story short, or TL;DR, I had the best weekend of my life with Destructoid Europe. I met a bunch of new friends and, as you can see above, some even became part of my inner friends circle. There's something Hollie told me several times that I remember clearly: the Destructoid community is more than just a bunch of people to share funny cat pictures with -- they're a group that you can talk to about serious stuff, too. They'll understand, weigh in their advice, and be generally awesome about it. It's a group you can actually talk to rather than just "goof off" with (Even though the latter is also very much possible with them. Too possible). She was right.
And it was that weekend that I wanted to be a part of this great community. A great group of people that not only shared my interests and were funny and interesting, but also listened to what I had to say and could be serious when it was time to be serious. A group that is not just an internet group, but more than that. A group you never want to let go of.
After Sunday's hangout, I was very sad to leave them and say goodbye. It was also a rushed goodbye, because my train had just arrived. But more than that, I just met a bunch of people I actually fit in with very well and I didn't want to say goodbye. But I had to.
And that was a full recap of Eurogamer Expo 2011. I've gone back to my original life now, but I'm staying in touch with them. I'm anxiously waiting for the next meetup, which hopefully won't be too far off. There is no way I'm leaving Dtoid Europe now that I've seen the awesomeness that it is.
Oh yeah, and we had our group photo taken on a motherfucking tank.