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QuakeCon 2008 – being there, nearly interviewing Todd Hollenshead, anime porn

Friday, 8th August 2008 08:38 GMT By Patrick Garratt

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VG247′s man in Texas, Nathan Grayson, gives us impressions of id’s megalithic demon-shooting event, QuakeCon. Frags, Carmack trashing Macs and a fleeting encounter with Todd Hollenshead make us want to get on a plane next year. After the link.

“Uh, hi,” I said unsurely, after stalking id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead until he stuffed his phone back into his pocket. He responded in kind, as I struggled to make small-talk. “So, er, how’s QuakeCon going?” I finally blurted.

“Pretty well. How are you liking it?” he answered in a, “No interview for you, son,” kind of way.

That painfully awkward exchange characterized this year’s QuakeCon. After all, Todd Hollenshead is a busy guy – more so than usual with QuakeCon in full swing. And although his mind was likely racing up and down his to-do list, he wasn’t miffed in the slightest to talk with a fan. Granted, I was technically press, but Hollenshead had been out of interview slots for months.

QuakeCon was chock-full of moments like that – moments that proved the convention was, above all else, a glorious ode to id Software’s dedicated fan base. It was, in essence, a heartfelt “thank you,” accompanied by a warm, welcoming grin. And also the chance to win a Corvette.

The moment I stepped into QuakeCon’s registration area, I knew it wasn’t a normal convention. Instead of greedily shoving my money into a cash register, the kind folks at the registration desk turned away my wallet with a simple nod. Yes, QuakeCon – in spite of its thousands of attendees, tournaments with cash prizes, the aforementioned Corvette, and, you know, the hotel space in which the whole thing took place – was free.

Even so, the event was loaded with spectacle. Most notable, of course, was the keynote hosted primarily by id co-founder John Carmack. Since you’re reading this, I imagine you’ve already torn through our coverage of the keynote, but generating mind-blowing headlines wasn’t Carmack and company’s intention.

Sure, you heard the news, but QuakeCon-goers heard Duke Nukem Forever jokes, Mac-mocking, and John Carmack’s answers to all of life’s questions. Seriously, the guy can talk. Again, it was fans first – with everything else a distant second.

And were there ever fans. QuakeCon badges hung around the necks of just about everyone in the Hilton Anatole, drawing mystified glares from the few who didn’t possess a customized tag of their own. It wasn’t until I stepped into the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer), however, that the sheer enormity of QuakeCon truly dawned on me. Imagine an airplane hangar filled with focused gamers – and also a guy looking at anime porn – and you’ll have an idea of what the BYOC was like. Taking my first steps inside, it seemed endless. Rows of bleeding-edge PCs as far as the eye could see.

A hum of voices in the air was light, though, which I thought was odd considering the number of people filling the BYOC’s cavernous depths. After a quick glance around I figured out why. QuakeCon is doubtless a social event, but we’re talking about a hobby that involves sitting in front of a dimly-lit screen, trying valiantly to fill your opponents with lead, and trash-talking endlessly when you finally succeed – through a mic, at people whose faces you’ve probably never seen before. Meeting those friends/foes outside of a virtual world has to be a little awkward. On top of that, people who weren’t chatting up their newfound friends were, of course, in front of their PCs, fragging away in silence.

Meanwhile, slightly more audible noise could be heard right across the hall. Therein were booths (and booth babes) adorned with the logos of QuakeCon’s sponsors, and a main stage. Excitement filled the room, fueled by the mountain of Bawls energy drinks sitting in its center. All around, attendees played game demos, nabbed free swag, and endured speeches from DeVry college employees in order to play Halo on a really nice TV.

Ultimately, though, all of these attractions were simply an excuse to bring id and its fans closer together. Sure, press outlets attended the show in full force, but media exposure wasn’t the main purpose behind this year’s QuakeCon – nor has it ever been. QuakeCon is about the fans, and it accomplishes that goal admirably.

By Nathan Grayson

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