Lots of great ideas are lucky to survive one month, let alone one year. Of course, it’s reasonable to assume that when one’s little baby makes it to that first milestone you should take yourself on a luxury holiday because it’s probably been a lot of hard work to get to that point and you deserve the time away from the little monster. Thankfully, not everyone thinks like this old fool, and especially thankfully, 2upGamers’ Glenn Alexander and Hylton Arendse don’t, because otherwise we wouldn’t have had their ‘Most Wanted Anniversary’ event to talk excitedly about.
A lot has changed in the year since the first 2upGamers’ event in November 2011. In the same breath, a fair amount has remained unchanged too. It’s still a community driven event essentially, but it is now one with more “industry” support than the modest beginning may have suggested. That beginning was something a little special for the – then four original 2upGamers – and the 40 attendees. Something was in the Cape Town air and it wasn’t a South Easterly wind. Now, when looking back, it’s heart-warming to see that at least 15 of the attendees from that event are still regulars at all events and that while the original team has shrunk a little since then, the two remaining organisers are still as passionate as ever.
It’s also credit to the passion of the 2upGamers that one of the original speakers still remains a close associate and supporter to the cause while others have come and gone (at times without even a pleasant goodbye). Mweb were one of the first guest speakers (Kalahari.com actually were actually the first guests to speak on the night) at 2upGamers and were fittingly still part of the celebration. The ISP’s gaming division were on hand to assist, commandeer and operate the main event of the night (no offence to the other activities) – the Need for Speed Most Wanted competitions.
The venue has changed a fair amount however in the last year. No three consecutive 2upGamers events have ever been at the same venue, and have visited Rygersdal Sports Club on at least three occasions, Friends of Design twice, Bellville Peninsula Cricket Academy once (and that may have been once too many for some…), Ajax Cape Town’s Ikamva training ground twice and Parow Golf Club once. The tenth event was always destined to roll on to its most prestigious setting to celebrate the anniversary in style, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Western province Cricket Club sure is one way to make an impact. The venue has a spectacular glass view onto the hallowed Newlands cricket field, but I’m pretty willing to bet that no-one even noticed it.
By the time the attendees had negotiated the mammoth cue waiting to get in, they were greeted by more consoles than at any other event. They were also greeted by two other 2upGamers traditions – a late start and a missing PA system. Hey, its Cape Town… nothing starts on time. Neither seemed to dampen the party atmosphere one bit however, and it just meant the speakers had to project their voices a little.
Following a reminisce and an extensive list of thank you’s (to attendees, supporters and hangers on) by Glenn on behalf of the 2upGamers, the first speakers were a slightly bashful Cube IT. Their first shop opened the very day of the event, at Bayside Mall, with more opening soon. The mainly PC focused shop (which does sell consoles and console related hardware too) will be the PC partners to 2upGamers from here on, marking a major change from the originally Xbox 360 focused events.
2upGamers regulars Apex Interactive were up next and were there to show off their fantastic Turtle Beach range of headsets. Three lucky, randomly picked winners made off with a headset each… while I hexed the lot of them for taking them away from me. Celestial Games’ Travis Bulford followed with an entertaining chat about the South African developer’s update of their 1996 game Toxic Bunny. The original game was developed over 2 years by four team members and racked up 150,000 sales worldwide. Inspired by Looney Tunes and possibly too much caffeine, the update features HD graphics as well as a tutorial (missing from the original). Apparently, the tutorial was added “mostly for grownups…”
EA South Africa and Mweb Gamezone proved that the gaming industry (well, industries in general) in South Africa is not all industrial espionage and underhanded dealings, by sharing the stage together to announce that playing Need for Speed Most Wanted might result in getting something in return. Prizes. Of course. And with that the battles began.
While some were distracted by the food, others were clamouring for the opportunity to set the top lap time in Need for Speed, or take on one of the two celebrities in attendance to stand a chance to win a spot prize. Alan – a stunt driver who just recently appeared in the movie they named after me – and Ashley – who “tests a lot of cars” for Top Car – put in sterling performances to ensure very few of the around 20 spot prizes were given away to an extended list of hapless participants. Meanwhile, the hot lap competition was really heating up. After some blistering times around the map, it was 2upGamers first timer Rohan Visagie who walked away with a PlayStation 3 and copy of the game with a time of 1.04.38.
Meanwhile, someone had again let that eGamer lot loose to run their FIFA tournament. This time, the event took on a slightly different slant and was a “king of the hill” style battle. Most wins meant, well, you were the winner. How exactly, the event was run I couldn’t say, but apparently “it was fun” and the winners (Mubeen on PS3 and Andrew on Xbox 360) each walked away with a case of Mountain Dew, who also joined in the festivities by supplying samplers for all attendees and promising continued future support.
If all that competitive (albeit enjoyable) gaming was still not enough, the GecoSports crew were on hand to deliver the final knockout blow. Their delayed Super Street Fighter IV finals (originally destined for an October 2upGamers event which was scuppered due to rAge) was played under the watchful eyes of spectators. The clearly enthralled spectators – whose cheers almost drowned out the growling engines in the venue – watched as the four fighters went to work. In the end, it was Salie Jakoet (playing as Ryu) and Sunny Sahota (playing as Balrog) who made it to the finals and it was Salie that claimed the winner’s accolades of being named the first GecoPro in their fighting division and the Mad Catz fighting stick.
Sadly, like all good things, the night had to come to an end. Fittingly, when it did, it ended in true 2upGamers style – myself and Brady from ITF Gaming being amongst the last to leave and ‘Mr. I-win-everything-cause-I’m-lucky’ Jason being, well, lucky. Actually, unlucky. On the other hand he was lucky that he had four able-bodied persons (maybe that’s a little stretch) in myself, Brady, Glenn and Dean from eGamer on hand to push start his car which clearly had not read the ‘Need for Speed’ memo…
Our (Zombiegamer) congratulations to the 2upGamers crew. We hope you guys see many more events in the future and that they keep going from strength to strength. Here’s to the next year.
The next 2upGamers is scheduled for Friday 30 November and will also be the South African Nintendo Wii U Launch Party. We suggest you book that date now.
For more pictures from the event, check out our Facebook Album.