If you’re a glass-is-half-empty sort of person – or zombie or alien – encounters can be frightening experiences.  They can prove to be very difficult situations.  This third 2upGamers event held on January 20 was mostly just that for organisers Glenn, Ashley and Hylton.  I mean, how do you keep improving on the previous events?  Well, it’s easy really… just ensure you have an alien and royalty in attendance.  Easy-peasy.

For the second event running, Friends of Design opened their doors and welcomed a bunch of expectant gamers.  They obviously had not learnt from the previous tsunami which hit them in December because this time around the attendance figure jumped to a whopping 100 – an impressive feat considering the registration for the event only opened four days prior.

Following the obligatory opening welcomes from the 2ups themselves, Friends of Design’s founder and owner Eva Csernyanszky welcomed the masses.  While she probably should’ve remembered to tell everyone not to play on their rows of iMacs, Eva did plug Friends of Design’s new game design course.  The great news is that registrations are still open for the full time ‘Game Technology and Multimedia Entertainment’ course and that there will also be some after hours workshops run during the year – for those that don’t have the ability to concentrate for five days a week.  So that’s Friends of Design generally proving to be Friends of Gamers.

And with one royal wave, Takelot took to centre, erm, floor.  It was Andrew.  Yes.  Andrew.  Or as he is known in the halls of Takealot (apparently it’s a neighbouring county to Camelot) – Communications Manager… Andrew Royal.  Oh.  You look nothing like the young prince I was expecting.

Andrew’s main focus at Takealot is social interaction via Facebook and Twitter to help Takealot understand better “what gamers want” – a theme echoed a little later in the evening by the second major guest.  I was preparing to jump up and scream “a flat pack entertainment room consisting of a 50” 3D Full HD TV, a PS3 and Xbox 360, a lazy chair and fully stocked bar fridge, all in a 4,5×4,5m cubicle and priced to go” but by they were busy announcing the winners of three copies of the N7 Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3.  So that’s three more people I don’t really like right now…  *mumble* Congrats *mumble*.  Oh well, maybe I’ll be the lucky winner of a game a month for a year by signing up to Takealot’s newsletter before the 31 January closing date.  Just as long as no-one else finds out about it.

On to the alien then…  I would like to think that EA’s Social Media and Community Manager for Asia Pacific, Japan and South Africa would see the humour in being called an alien.  He is a man with a sense of humour.  And anyone who says “go Wallabies” to a room full of Springbok supporters is not of this world.  And is clearly having a laugh…  Welcome to South Africa Brad Pidgeon – you must be looking forward to playing Syndicate in Oz then…

Oddball Oz ratings aside (and you can just come visit here again to play it), EA has a strong line-up this year and the first one is Fable beater Kingdom’s of Amalur which was shown off via the wonders of a game trailer.  Brad’s own words about the game were that he “believes this is what Fable should’ve been”.  Well, he did work at Microsoft for eight and a half years before joining EA in April 2011 and since joining EA he has impressively engaged with the gamers of the region to the degree where EA Australia’s Facebook likes grew from 700 in the month he joined to a staggering 105 000 now.

This “engaging and hearing” from the gamers is the ethos EA is keen to follow.  Following a few years of being seeing as the evil multi-national, they’re attempting to take the positive and negative feedback from the community and use it to improve both the games they publish and produce and their own approachability.  To be fair, in this day and age it’s an easy line to use, but if the promise of more visits by the man also known as EA’s “Social Media and Community Sith Bounty Hunter” to South Africa and the other regions he represents is anything to go by, there is at least one EA member giving it a go.

Along with promises of return visits you can expect a massive EA hamper give-away at the next 2upGamers event which will be on Friday 2 March.  Could you also send some playable code of an upcoming game too?  If you want Cape Town gamers to love you long time, that will be the way to achieve it.  Brad is keen to see ideas like localised (or custom) content for games, as well as local ‘Super Rugby’ like game competitions between the best in the region.  Great ideas, but could we first try and organise local console servers for Battlefield 3 and FIFA?  Maybe?

To end his presentation, around three Sims fans cheered excitedly when the Katie Perry/Sims 3 Showtime trailer kicked off.  Around 85 attendees fell asleep.  By the end another 12 were applauding.  Marketing.  It works.

In a blur of final presentation activity, EA South Africa’s Bianca and Ralph gave a wave to the masses, el33tonline handed out goodies again and I ran to the bar and then on to the table of pizza.  Games were played and conversations were held.  Old friends were hugged and new ones were made, all making the 2upGamers event a truly positive encounter…

For more pictures from the event, head over to our Facebook page.