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Archive for July 9th, 2010


One epic July 4th weekend – SEGA at SGC 2010!

“So, Aaron, I have this trip that I think you’ll like.”

Favien was saying something. I looked up from my desk, eyebrows raised, and responded. “Oh?”

“Yah, das very cool,” he said.  “It’s called the Iron Man of Gaming Tournament, and we’re looking to have Sonic 4 as the surprise final game of the tournament. You’d fly down on July 3rd and stay the weekend. Interested?”

My mind was conflicted for a moment. July 3rd was my birthday. Then again, this was a great opportunity for Sonic 4, and I don’t generally pass up opportunities to travel. Then I was suddenly sidetracked about what kind of dessert to get that week (it’s a tradition here at SEGA of America to eat dessert on Fridays), and after deciding upon some sort of pie, I made up my mind on the other subject at hand.

“Alright,” I told Fabiam. “I’ll go.”

The Birthday trip begins

The alarm went off at 4 AM and I stretched out my arm, feeling around until I finally felt contact and hit the snooze button. It’s far too early to be awake on a Saturday, I thought. Somehow I forced myself out of bed, getting ready for the taxi that would take me to the airport.

Two plane trips later, I checked in at the hotel in downtown Dallas. A friend of mine once told me about an airline that serves fresh chocolate chip cookies during flight, and I’ve always felt that was really awesome. Plane peanuts – or a free fresh baked chocolate chip cookie? You can thus imagine my surprise (and joy) when the lady checking me in at the hotel said “Also, we offer complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies to all guests upon check-in. Would you like us to deliver one to your room?”

I smiled. I wasn’t even at the convention yet, and this day was already worth the trip.

Family, cheesecake, and conventions

Originally, I figured that flying on my birthday meant giving up any chance of seeing friends or having a party. That wasn’t too far from the norm –  my family all live in the midwest anyways, and it’s been a few years since I celebrated a birthday with them. But sometimes when we choose to give something up, that sacrifice will make its way back to us: in this case, I received a message saying that my parents and younger brother were planning to drive the ~8 hours down to Dallas to see me. And they did, even after car trouble and almost 13 hours of trip time, just so we could have a late birthday dinner.

Birthday Strawberry Cheesecake!

Afterward, my younger brother and I grabbed a cab over to the hotel where SGC was being held. Within the first few moments of walking past the sliding hotel doors, I saw the kind of figures and faces that one might regularly associate with a video game convention. They were a myriad of personalities: from those who spend their weekends at home to those who looked like they spent their weekends skateboarding. From fat to skinny, tall to short, nerdy to normal, SGC was full of people who loved video games, many of whom grew up playing them. They were my kind of people.

Some of you may know of Keith Apicary, a cool guy from Screwattack who has been part of a number of funny videos, including this Sonic V Mario debate, which is a particular favorite of mine. The first night we were there, we happened to walk into what was apparently the video game rave section of the hotel, and we spotted him running around shirtless with a whole crew of shirtless video game junkies in suit. For those unaware, video game raves are actually just like real raves, only without the illegal drugs and actual women. Still, there are glow sticks, and the occasional Neo Geo song.

We met up with Craig, who is about eight feet tall and a really chill guy to talk with. He was managing a lot of aspects of the show, and explained to us the plans for the next day, including the Sonic 4 reveal, and after welcoming us he set us free to explore a bit. Then Keith ran by again with a whole trail of people and glow sticks following, and my bro and I decided to head over to the actual gaming sections.

How awesome is this? In the large room used for panels (and the semifinal/final rounds), “SGC” was spelled out, along with gaming icons Mario on the left and Sonic on the right, all created entirely from balloons.

It wasn’t long before I was spotted by a couple SEGA fans, including user fluffymoochicken from our forums. We talked about all sorts of SEGA things, and soon after I left the convention for the night. The next day would be the big reveal.

The big moment

‘Big reveal’ is honestly a bit of an understatement. The way the tournament works, tensions and excitement are at an all-time high when the sixteen semifinalists prepare for the last two rounds. I spotted someone I knew among them, Oscar, who is a fellow gamer that also runs his own gaming website.  I wished him good luck, and my brother and I were led behind the scenes to see all the SGC staff preparing. Anyone who has ever hosted their own event before knows how challenging all the last-minute emergencies can be, but the SGC staff were cool and composed as they sorted everything out. Then the floodgates were opened, a huge crowd filled the room, and the sixteen finalists squared off, until only eight remained.

It was time for the reason I had flown down in the first place – time to see how an entire room full of hardcore gamers would react to the news that Sonic 4 was here, that they would get to see it, and that eight of them would get to play it. It is a moment that I don’t think the gamer in me could ever forget.

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The video says it all.

Thank you to everyone at SGC and Screwattack who made that moment completely epic, and who put together an awesome convention. From the staff to all those in attendance, we hope you guys enjoyed having Sonic 4 as the big surprise as much as we did. Thanks also to that family of mine for coming to see me – you guys rock!

You can check out the full collection of our pictures from the event here.

So, what do you guys think of that video? Likewise, did you have any fun experiences on your July 4th weekends?