Much like the previous 2upGamers event, I find myself in the difficult position of reporting – or writing waffle as some prefer to call my stream of haphazardly constructed sentences – and  being directly involved in the event itself.  Unlike the 6th Gen I might have got the balance partly right this time.  However, I suspect that’s down to the fact that 7th Gear itself shed last month’s disasters and rose like a Fenix from the Ashes.

The run up to the event promised this would happen.  It also promised a new venue, less talking, no pizza, more games being played, more socialising and more gears than Top Gear.  The new venue – Ajax Cape Town’s training ground Ikamva – seemed to be met with great approval from the over 120 attendees who braved possibly Cape Town’s heaviest rain this year.  Of course, they weren’t around when needed to brave said rain carrying 46” TVs up increasingly slippery steps… bloody layabouts.

Glenn Alexander welcomed all (and himself) back to the seventh monthly event in the 2upGamers assault on growing Cape Town (and South Africa’s) gaming community.  He did offer an apology to all the 6th Gen attendees and promised it was the one and only blip that would befall his and Hylton Arendse’s baby – barring a zombie apocalypse or another less important global catastrophe.

“Hi.  I’m Sean Fowles and this is rAge for Cape Town.”  Alright, Sean from GameX didn’t actually say that but the 2upGamers attendees probably were hoping he would.  That being said, Gamex – which happens 12 to 14 April 2013 at CTICC – is best described as just that.  It’s an electronics and gaming expo – but with more of a community focus.  The phrase “your event” could well be considered lip-service, but so far the involved parties are members of the gaming community rather than those nasty multi-nationals.  Not that the distributors and publishers are being excluded, but the “exciting surprises” being promised are possibly GameX’s way of saying there’s more red tape than you could possibly imagine, but more will be revealed in the coming months.  A bullish Sean is hoping to see the event grow and reach 100,000 visitors by year ten.  So the question really is – will you be there to see it all start next year?

Up next was always happy Bryan Banfield – “the only EA employee not on EA’s payroll”.  Bryan is basically the EA community leader in South Africa and champions their games on such a regular basis, one has to wonder why EA doesn’t stop advertising The Sims on TV and pay him to do the job for them.  Along with some prizes to dish out (a Sims four-pack, FIFA Street, Need for Speed The Run and Mass Effect 3 CE Artbooks x3) he was also there to discuss the Cape Town Gamers group which came about when he, Grant Hinds and Glenn Alexander partook in a meal of brains and a genius idea was born.  Historically, this may prove to be the group that started the current upswing in the Cape Town gaming community and was the place 2upGamers was born.  Traditionally, a get together once a week, the group has decided to change to a meet every third Thursday of the month – so if you want to get the “mini” 2upGamers vibe, this is the one for you.  Join the group, see the world.  Or at least some of Cape Town.

2upGamers regulars, Cape Town Showdown, knee dropped their way into the spotlight for a brief announcement of their more “n00b focused” fighting league entitled ‘Fight Club’ which has started this month.  You know the first rule about Fight Club right?  Well they broke that rule because they spoke about it and you can find out more and get into the fight over on the SA Gamer forums.  Or just watch the video below too for some jaw breaking action.

And then… the real moment of truth.  How were hungry gamers brought up on a monthly diet of pizza going to react to a menu change?  Or was it all just a trick?  As it turns out, it was not a trick at all, there really was no pizza.  The Italian staple was replaced with a smorgasbord of food platters featuring mini-pies, hotdogs, samoosas and chicken.  With all the food being Halaal it looked like last month’s pizza debacle was all but forgotten about – at the very least the now full stomachs appeared to be forgiving.

In terms of promise, 7th Gears was keeping true to its word – even though one or two little issues did creep in.  The P.A. system decided it preferred silence to the dulcet tones of the guest speakers and one station for gaming wasn’t set up for player participation.  On the other hand, another successful change in the structure was the use of tables and chairs rather than the impersonal cinema row of chairs.  It felt like an awards ceremony dinner, but the social interaction when placed across from a fellow gamer is outstanding.  Spotted in the socialising crowd was Lego Batman, a panda and KomboKitten, proving that it’s not only zombies that will be spotted at 2upGamers events.

Our, erm, “friends” (nah, we like them.  Most of the time) over at eGamer had their FIFA 12 tournament back after it had to be culled at 6th Gen.  16 players kicked each other’s balls around and scored…  I Wish I could tell you who won, but by then I was wearing my other cap for the evening over at the ‘Ozone Exhibition Circle’ (a rectangle actually) for the Gears of War 3 Wingman Tournament.

16 teams from a variety of Cape Town players, ad hoc teams and clans such as Crimson Moon Rising, Sons of Chaos, OAP, Ground Zero, High 5 and even PS3 boys F34R prepared to rev their gears and change their chainsaws.  Or something.  Over the course of eight matches of tense battles and ridiculous team killing, the four finalists were decided.  Ground Zero (Frostbite and Velocity), High 5 (Holden and Google) and two CMR teams (Mujeeb and Ze Snake and ‘The Twins’) all prepared for their final battle on Hotel.  It should be pointed out that ‘The Twins’ were two 12 year olds who laid waste to some well known Gears of War players in their run to the finals.  It should also be noted that they had a consenting guardian with them – before the moral standards police come knocking.

In a tight finish that saw the senior CMR team and High 5 battling for top spot, it was CMR that took the bragging rights and the R250 vouchers for each of the two players in the end.  Smiles all around for the winners and thankfully no desire for the losers to punch them in the face and yell “host advantage”.  I think a good night was had by all the players.  Well, at least I hope so…

And that was the end of that.  Some of us poor souls needed to do the packing up, but it was on a high this time around.  7th Gear was a return to form – an event that went into top gear.

For some more pictures from the event, check out our Facebook AlbumGreatWyt has also popped some great photos on to the internet right here.

I would just like to take a moment to make a few personal thanks to some awesome people who helped make the event and the Gears of War 3 Matches such a brilliant treat.  Thank you to all the participants who helped make the “tournament” run as smoothly as it did – without your participation it could not have happened.  Thanks to Nick Holden of Clan Connection who brought his competitive setup knowledge to help get things operating.  Thanks Franco Duncker for helping out – as you always do.  Thanks Glenn Alexander for once again allowing a zombie to invade his human sanctuary and cause some chaos.  A shout out to the guys from my clan OAP for representing and to The Printing Room for making us look so good on the night.  And finally – but by no means least – thank you Apex Interactive who have sponsored the Gioteck headsets used on the night.  

If you have any feedback you would like to offer on the event, please feel free to comment below.  Future LAN setups will feature games such as Halo, Modern Warfare 3, Forza, Fighting Games and more, but if you’re keen to see others or suggest an improvement, please do so.