For a community event about gamers and gaming, it would not be unfair to say that – on paper at least  – the guest speaker line-up for the May’s 2upGamers 5th Round event seemed severely lacking in all things gaming.  However, believing that to be the case would have been short-sighted and in uncivilised times would have been cause for a public flogging for heresy.

The line-up certainly didn’t put off any of the gamers who mingled and cued patiently to get into the venue – around 120 people registered for the ‘May the fourth’ event with 80 registering online in the first two hours of the bookings opening.  Admittedly not all made it, but it’s safe to say there were around 100 (I only carry a limited amount of fingers – snacks – to count on…) expectant gamers (and even non-gamers) ready to hear from the speakers.

Ultimately, I don’t think there was any reason to be disappointed by the 5th Round – other than an apology from EFC Champion Jadyson Costa.  He was sadly unable to attend due to a double booking, but promised to make it up by being at the next 2upGamers event – currently dated for 1 June.  That is a Friday yes…

Following the obligatory welcome from Glenn (dressed as an MMA fighter) and Hylton from 2upGamers, Nizar from Reader’s Den popped in to remind all that today (Saturday 5 May) is “free comic book day” and that at their shop at Stadium on Main in Claremont they would be doing exactly what the event says on the tin.  There will – among the obvious international comics – be eight locally produced comics available too.  Of course, the way to any gamers’ heart is via free goodies and considering Reader’s Den is your go-to place for all your comic book and figurine needs, Nizar did not disappoint.  Up for grabs were two Hardcover Graphic Novels – Halo and Starcraft – which were handed out via a random draw to the attending (and now clearly attentive) masses later in the evening.  I have a real suspicion the draw was rigged though.  Jason didn’t win.

Glenn and Hylton appeared back on stage to announce their sad and then their happy news – well, every action needs an equal but opposite reaction right?  Sadly, co-founder of 2upGamers – Ashley O’Neill – has decided to step down due to other commitments, but two new members have joined to assist the 2up crew in the form of Franco Duncker and Lood van den Berg.  Glenn’s day job – 4 Elements Gaming Festivals – will also now run the 2upGamers’ events which will be transformed into a non-profit organisation giving any returns right back to a variety of charities.  We would like to point out that the Zombie Alliance is a charity in need of financial backing to promote our plans to place all humans in breeding camps.  Wait.  You didn’t just hear that.

This change in structure will also facilitate expanding the 2upGamers concept nationwide with their sponsors Friends of Design and Takealot.  I do believe Hylton thanked the 2up Army for their support and proceeded to show us videos of the infamous Roger ‘byprd0ct’ dance and a tribute of said video using Star Wars Old Republic footage – but I had nodded off at the first strains of “Sexy and you know it”.  An announcement of free stuff woke me again.  Sadly it wasn’t for me – Roger scored free entry to all future 2upGamers events and his own VIP pizza for becoming the poster boy of the SA Dance Central scene…

Friends of Design – I still prefer to call them Friends of Gamers – appeared complete with cheap Star Wars costumes (their words I recall) but not cheap prizes.  They once again brought 10 vouchers worth around R25 000 for design classes and 10 ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ T-Shirts for 10 lucky Padawans to win.  A completely unhinged battle between the Dark Side and Light Side ensued which involved what appeared to be pool noodles and balloons.  Bonkers.

The T-Shirts were supplied by Springleap – a design website that runs design contests allowing designers an unprecedented level of exposure.  Every two weeks $500 is given out in the regular design contest and the site has given out a staggering $1,75 million in royalties.  They are keen to treat even young and upcoming designers as “rockstars”, so we’d suggest heading to their site if you are keen to learn more.

eGamer (nah, we don’t know them either…)* made an appearance long enough to rickroll (or ricktroll) the audience in announcing a new regular feature at all future 2upGamers events.  They will “manage” – or watch others play – an EA game for prizes.  The prizes are for the winners of course, not eGamer.  Last night was a FIFA 2v2 competition which was won by Rohan and ‘Fraansman’ of BMT eSports.

Ozone Energy Drink Africa made their long awaited first clan announcement and introduced themselves and their product.  We have already covered the first sponsored clan announcement here, but would like to once again congratulate High 5 on being the first clan sponsored by Ozone.  We can state unequivocally that more announcements will be forthcoming very soon – regarding the clan sponsors, events sponsors and much, much more.  We will make sure that any news from the Ozone camp will be passed on to you as soon as is humanly possible as the four partners (Christian, James, Johan and Wickus – all humans) are keen to be involved continuously in helping grow the South African “esports community”.

The most explosive speaker of the evening was Sgt. James Heller from Prototype 2.  Unfortunately Vince Andrews – who appeared in the live action video promo for the game – couldn’t make it to the launch party last week, but he did come to the 5th Round to give us some inside information about the shoot.  The promo was shot over three days with long hours (4am to 1am) and was directed by a French director whose English was worse than Inspector Cluzo’s apparently.  The shoot was in Soweto which caused much consternation amongst residents – as you can imagine when an army shows up along with a guy with a huge blade for an arm. Vince also tried to convince all in attendance that he did his own stunts…

Final guest was Mweb GameZone’s Chocs.  His “dredd master” (maybe he meant dread) Des Kurz couldn’t make it, so the minion was on hand to dispense with Counter Strike: GO Beta keys and a “golden ticket” for the Diablo 3 launch party being held at the M-Cave.  The event being sponsored by Megarom, Ozone (product will be there to sample) and Thermaltake (give-aways) will happen on May 15th (apparently that’s when the game releases or something…) and you can battle for entry via the GameZone website.  Who won the golden ticket?  No idea, when the competition was said to include a Kinect Star Wars dance-off I found sanctuary elsewhere.  Most remember what happened last time a dance off happened…

And just like that Glenn appeared on stage, mentioned something about paintball, console wars and following Twitter (#PS3vs360PB) to find out more.  We can reveal that said paintball has everything to do with Ozone, 2upGamers, forumites from the two ZA console forums and Zombiegamer.  It plans to be a regular event that will move around the country and will eventually expand to include gamers on all platforms.  But as said, more details to follow.

Following a longer than usual presentation the quite usual meal of the gamer arrived.  Pizza.  Glorious and nutritional.  All a hungry zombie needs when there are so many witnesses around.  But, erm, really guys – the pizza did nothing to you.  Why’d you have to brutalise it all so quickly?

Empty stomach… meet beer and let the real meat of the night kick off.  2upGamers events – and most of the current events happening these days – are all about getting out there and meeting people.  New faces and old friends all having a laugh, playing a game or having a chat.  That’s what makes these events a real gamers and gaming community meet up.  The people.  So you all come back real soon now OK…

The next event is currently dated for 1 June and is expected to feature Nintendo distributor Core and for the first time – PCs.

*We actually like the eGamer guys.  They’re a nice bunch.  However, next time don’t make me sit through bad 1980’s memories again.  Please.  Or I will be forced to eat you.

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