Get By With A Little Luck From My Friends

The Frag Dolls, Ubisoft’s competitive/promotional team of girl gamers, is recruiting a slew of Cadettes for a 6-month “internship” that promises a whirlwind tour of the gaming industry.  Hells yes.  I am ON BOARD.

Along with the absolutely darling Michelle a.k.a. Sunie (blog: Oh Geeze), I have spent that last few weeks compiling my application.  It consist of a Gaming Resume, a Gaming History, and a Video Q&A.  Cadettes will be selected at random for the pool of applicants.  Naturally, I’ve waited this long to post about it because I didn’t want to risk alerting any potential competitors…and not at ALL because I’m too addicted to Modern Warfare 2 to do more than poop out the occasional tweet or e-mail.  The girls already applying are, for the most part, awfully pretty and grossly qualified.

Fortunately, I’m pretty cute ad talented myself, so we’ll see how the cookie crumbs when the Frag Dolls announce their 12 winners the first week in March.  Early birthday present to me?  IT BETTER GODDAMN HAPPEN.

Anyway, my application video and Gaming History shall make up the remained of this post.  Stick around if you’re into that sort of thing. :D

The Gaming History Of Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico

As part of a family that saw the value of staying on the cutting edge of technology, I enjoyed access to computers and gaming consoles from early on in life.  First there was Crystal Caves on the PC, then Mario games on the Nintendo, Japanese imports like Final Fantasy and Monster Rancher on the Playstation, and finally non-stop Pokémon on the GameBoy.   Through high school, I played mostly role-playing games and Dance Dance Revolution until my younger brother inadvertently turned me onto World of Warcraft my junior year.  My junior year was also when I became acquainted with Trevor/H2O TorcH who introduced me to PC first-person shooters with the release of Battlefield 2 that summer.  I was instantly addicted to Battlefield 2 and to seeing my name at the top of the post-game score charts.

My  freshman year of college (2006), I attended DigitalLife in New York City.  It was my first gaming event and I was dazzled by the professional gamers from Asia competing at Warcraft 3, the oodles of swag offered as promotional game prizes, and my brief encounter with the ladies of PMS Clan.  I spent the rest of the year trying (with limited success) to learn Warcraft 3 but mostly just shooting people in Battlefield 2.

Shortly before DigitalLife rolled around the following Fall (2007), I picked up Team Fortress 2 freshly out of beta.  My intention was to learn it well enough to win prizes at the event, but I became addicted.  When I learned about on-line tournaments, I joined a team with Trevor and some of our friends from high school.  The team performed poorly, so Trevor and I joined a more competitive team.

During my early days of Team Fortress 2, I trucked my skills down to VGXPO in Philadelphia with the dual intention of winning some swag and interviewing Amber Dalton of PMS Clan for an essay on Girls in Gaming.  I did in fact win some neat swag and, during my interview with Amber, she took notice of my prizes and suggested I campaign for a Team Fortress 2 team within PMS.  A few weeks and many forum posts later, I was co-leader of the first PMS TF2 division.

That season was a lesson on the ins and outs of on-line leagues wherein I learned much about competition, strategy, and a woman’s place on the internet. I was frustrated by all the negativity coming my way, but very pleased when I and a contingent of my TF2 team took a solid first (the team we played in the finals rage-quit after the first round!) at the Digital Overload LAN (spring 2008).

At that summer’s  Nvision LAN, my TF2 team took first in the GeForce tournament and competed admirably in the main event.  I also made it out of groups into the elimination bracket with my first attempt at Unreal Tournament.  I continued to work hard at TF2 and that fall, my team advanced to the play-offs in both CEVO and CGS online.

Inspired by Ultimate Gamer’s debut last winter, I acquired an Xbox and began training in a multitude of games, mainly Street Fighter 4.  I competed in SF4 at WCG Fighter Club, Summer DreamHack, GVN Summer Bash, The E-Spot, and another WCG Fighter Club.  I’ve also picked up Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3: ODST and will compete in both games at WCG’s Crossfire tournament at the end of this month.

In addition to my own gaming, I’ve done shoot-outs for Sapphire and Commodore at VGXPO 2008 and helped work the main stage at GameX 2009 with PMS Clan.  NoobTube TV has used me for on-camera interviews at NY Comic Con, MLG Meadowlands, GVN Summer Bash, and various WCG events in New York City.  UFrag TV, another gaming coverage site, also hired me to help cast their live, streaming coverage for VGXPO 2009 and Big Apple Comic Con 2009.

I am very interested in continuing my involvement in the gaming industry and increasing its scope, so working alongside the Frag Dolls would be a dream come true!

Reality TV Killed The Video Game Star

I guess I haven’t hinted at it much in this blog, but I am terribly interested in a reality television enterprise called “WCG Ultimate Gamer.”   The first season aired around this time last year and featured 12 gamers that would compete against each other in video games and related “real life” challenges (ex: Halo and paintball, Dance Dance Revolution and dancing, etc).  The show featured Amy “Athena” Brady who, with her sister Amber, founded PMS Clan (of which I am a member, and a general at that!) and Chelsea a.k.a. Delicate who is also a prominent, long-time PMS Clan member, the only two ladies, I am pround to say, who made it to the final elimination gauntlet.  If you’d like to check out the show, all the episodes are on Hulu and additional information about contestants can be found on the US World Cyber Games homepage.

It was awesome to watch two of my favorite girl gamers climb to the top of the pile, but it was even more awesome to know that video games and gamers could be so spectator-friendly.   As someone who has been hiding as much as gaming behind my computer screen, it made me positively giddy to see my hobby join the mainstream, like extreme skateboarding and winter sports before it.  After all, I had something culturally relevant to reference when people questioned my motives for things like “Team Fortress 2 practice” and “selecting Training Mode on Street Fighter IV.”

Anyway, since the show debuted, I have been dogging anyone with clue (show contestants, the host Joel Gourdin, WCG executives…) about WCG Ultimate Gamer season 2 because OH MY GOD I WANT TO BE ON THE GODDAMN SHOW.   Maybe you think it’s not cool.  Maybe you think I’m trash (just because I am from New Jersey and I summer at Seaside does NOT mean I am “like that” :P).   Maybe you think girls suck at games and the only contestant should be Fatal1ty… But know this:

I have been competing in video games for money and prizes for over three years.

I have defended titles alone and on teams.

I have been hired as a personality at gaming events.

And I have worked both on camera and off as gaming press.

Inspired by the show, last May I acquired an Xbox, something I had once been feverishly opposed to.   Only recently acquainted with the game, I went within 100 damage of winning a best-of-three Street Fighter IV show match with Sweden’s recently ranked 2nd place finisher at Summer Dreamhack.

My partner and I took a pilgrimage to SK Gaming’s home lan center in Stockholm, tested arcade skills in Amsterdam, logged hours in game cafes across Europe, and came home to a booming tournament scene that slung us back across the globe to TorcH’s 3rd place victory in Chengdu.

I’ll go anywhere in the world for a challenge.  Too often I have to take a back seat to other people’s gaming achievements, and more often I’ve hid myself altogether.   Ultimate Gamer is my chance to be more than a support class, more than the cute face at the Quake booth.  I plan on busting in, guns a-blazin’, and really tearing shit up…as it were.

I’m Seltzer, and I assure you I have what it take’s to be WCG’s next Ultimate Gamer!

The Rumors of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Between winter DreamHack in Sweden at the end of November and CES in Vegas early in January (totally jealous of all the jerks who got to go this weekend!), the gaming world pretty much goes into hibernation.   Sure, the industry is booming with holiday sales and servers world-round are flooded with noobs who are just getting their hands on the latest games, but as far as competition, innovation, and networking…YAWN!  Wake me up when the events start.

Christmas has been pretty good to me this year.  The arcade stick my mom got me will ensure I never get another thumb blister from mashing out ill-timed Cannon Spikes in Street Fighter IV.  My new Guitar Hero guitar is a huge plus too since I’ve been working off a very fancy, but very heavy plastic bass that’s a bit too big for my spindly arms and lacks the whammy bar of which I am terribly fond.

Also in my stocking were Left 4 Dead 2 and Halo: ODST, two games hugely embraced by the Xbox Live community that I’ve been missing out on since the fall.   Now I’m just waiting for the spring semester to start up so my roommate moves back to the apartment because I’m WAY too scare-dy pants to play zombie games on my own… and he and I ROCK FACE on Halo together.  But until then, I’ll just be training quietly for this year’s tournaments and looking forward to the next big event on my radar… Penny Arcade Expo East in Boston!

WCG 2009: All Singing, All Dancing Gamers of the World

The World Cyber Games spared no expense this year when it came to entertaining the crowds and making the players feel like royalty.  The opening ceremonies, held on the main stage, were a perfect demonstration of the spirit of the event.  An elaborate digital video with flying dragons and neon explosions highlighted the journey of the games’ torch (represented in real life as a speed-clicking game on the WCG site in the months prior).  Following that, each participating country was announced and marked by a flag-bearer and a helpful geographical indicator on the overhead.  The announcers traded off in Mandarin and English, explaining that we would also be treated to a traditional “face-off” performance.  Dancers came out in elaborate headdresses and at points in the music and plot would turn away momentarily, then look out again in a radically different mask.  This would happen 6-10 times a performance so I surmise the entire purpose of the act is to impress the audience with a “Woah!  He did it again!”-type glee WHICH IT DID.

At the end of the ceremonies (or at least the part where all the Chinese kids ran off after a Warcraft 3 player) we were treated to a performance by rising (?) pop (?) sensation (?), Chinese Boy Band!  They pranced enthusiastically and belted out the lyrics to the World Cyber Games official song “Beyond the Game” in Chinese and English, the very same song played over the sound system every 20 minutes for the next six days!  They also sang a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” to die for.  I’ll let you YouTube that one at your own risk…

Also present to entertain the attendees were cast members from the first season of WCG Ultimate Gamer.  Ultimate Gamer was a challenge-based reality TV show that pitted 12 gamers against each other, both in-game and in real-life challenges, for a chance at a $100,000 prize pot and exclusive opportunities from WCG.  (Expect a lengthy article on it later.)  Present at the Ultimate Gamer booth were Jamal “Zophar321” Nickens, Chelsea “Delicate” Alek-Finkleman, and the show’s winner, Mark “Applesauce” Smith.  I make note of their actual handles because when someone typed up their biographical information for Chinese fans, they became:

Chelsea, Jamal, and Mark were on stage every day taking challenges in Dance Dance Revolution and Project Gotham Racing and distributing prizes.  They also spent a fair amount of time in front of the photo background taking pictures enthusiastic fans and signing autographs.  Much like with their competitive counterparts on various teams, the Chinese response was overwhelmingly more enthusiastic than anything experienced on home turf.

Several more times throughout our stay in Chengdu we were treated to special performances and cultural traditions (along with authentic Chinese dishes!  see crazy menu above).  During the players’ dinners after opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies, the stage was opened for beat boxers, hip hop dancers, opera singers, cheerleaders, ballroom dancers, and another couple rounds of “face off.”  The organizers and volunteers worked very hard to make this an enjoyable and vivid experience for WCG gamers and staff from all around the world, and they certainly succeeded in making us feel welcome.

Thank you, World Cyber Games, for the amazing opportunity and an incredible experience!

WCG 2009: The Olympics Of Video Games

Most of Team USA seemed more interested in exploring than cramming in some 11th-hour practice, so I enjoyed the varied delights of shopping in China and left my partner TorcH hunched over a phone in the Samsung Mobile Arena to practice Wise Star 2.  Group play for each game was spread evenly throughout the week, while matches for 1st through 4th place were scheduled for the grand finale on Sunday.

The exception to this rule was Red Stone, a Korean MMO with a WoW-arena-esque battle system.  Three teams competed (Korea, Japan, and USA) on Thursday and, while USA’s Cool Runnings put up a good fight, they were ultimate chased down and squashed by overweight princesses (really?  are we back to Fat Princess again?).  This was excellent as their early achievement of 3rd place (B) ($750 + new camera for each of the five players) freed up the delightful Sean “Wraith” Snack to hang out with me and the-whitest-kid-in-China, Matt “d00bi0us” Marcou, to be annoyed with me!

Our Guitar Hero players, MoB_Shift and vVv Smokyprogg entered 8-slot bracket play on Saturday.  Smokyprogg was knocked into the losers bracket by Brazil’s Caiomenudo13, who went on to take first in the finals match against MoB_Shift on Sunday.   The final standings were Caiomenudo13 (G), MoB_Shift (S) ($3,000 + camera), and vVv Smokyprogg (B) ($2,000 + camera).

Racing game pro and former Championship Gaming Series player IndigoFerret beat out fellow USA player Zach Wolters and came close to a medal in the virtual pool game, Carom 3D, but took fourth after a loss to Germany’s Protonski.

Of the Samsung Mobile Challenge boys, OmegaElite failed to clear group stage in Asphalt4 on Friday.  I suspect this might have something to do with the tourney switching over to the laggy demo phones. <.<  H2O TorcH however took first in his group after a 50 second round over The_French (France, duh!).  He lost his chance for a first or second place finish against Italy’s a.Enrico, but came back on Sunday against China to finish with a (B)ronze!  He took home $2000 and a Samsung camera.

American Warcraft III player LongWalk dropped out of brackets first round after a 0-2 loss against Korea’s sk.Lyn.  Starcraft player Idra faced a similar 0-2 fate against Kolllsen from Germany.  Both are very talented players on their home scene and in Europe, but there was no doubt the Koreans and Chinese would dominate the Real Time Strategy scene at this international challenge.  I salute our brave heroes.

Putting up a slightly better fight were our boys on Team USA for CounterStrike 1.6.  Team_EG and Turmoil both lost 1-2 to Denmark and France respectively.  Denmark and France…?  Denmark and France?

Our final medal count was 1 (S)ilver and 3 (B)ronze (even though TorcH’s medal doesn’t officially count towards the totall).   Team Korea (South of course) ranked 1st place with 3 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals (and every member of Team Korea took home a Samsung monitor!), followed by Team Sweden, and Team Germany.  Nearly all the players threw themselves into this, heart and soul, from the mobile players to the 5-man teams.  It was a thrilling experience watching teams triumph and feeling the energy in the venue.

Team USA Steals Flag From Venue, Has Dinner With It

Team USA steals flag, has dinner with it.

For a complete listing of games, competitors, and scores, visit WCG 2009 Schedules and Results.

WCG 2009: Here Comes The Hero

Life has been a little hectic since I’ve returned from my trip to the World Cyber Games in Chengdu, China.  I’ll spare you my touristy run-down of airport delays (Beijing rockets silver iodide into clouds to make rain, but ended up blanketing Beijing in an unseasonable blizzard), sleep deprivation (left a forehead print on the glass revolving door, poured noodles on my partner’s laptop trying to show my mom my breakfast over webcam), internet restrictions (no Wikipedia, no Facebook, no blogs, no Youtube, and a very sensitive IP blocker), and personal excursions to different corners of Chengdu (the mountain where Daoism was founded, tons of street market haggling, and harrowing cab rides).  I will, however, name-drop it like it’s hot.

TorcH and I sat across the aisle from SirScoots, a well-known personality in eSports, and MoB Shift, one of the two Guitar Hero players for USA.  The flight was uneventful save for my sudden and unparalleled achievement in Pokemon Pinball: access to the Mewtwo Bonus Level and an all-time high score of 1,517,277,700 on the Blue level (which after some research I’ve discovered is not a very impressive score… let down).

Waiting in the Beijing airport, I lost track of TorcH and glommed onto the group surrounding the US WCG managers, Paul, Aaron, and Natalie.  Also in that group were Jamal, an Ultimate Gamer contestant, and one of my new friends, Sean “Wraith” Snack.  Paul ended up saving the day and getting us to Chengdu that night whereupon we were greeted by… a gaggle of uniformed volunteers speaking English, offering bottles of water, and encouraging us to relax in a special seating area while we awaited our shuttle!  It was our first taste of celebrity, and it was pretty neat.

At the hotel, the lobby was set up with tables dedicated to registering teams.  There were uniforms and meal cards and room keys for the players who all shuffled off to bed by 2am China time (all of China is one time zone). I had been awake for 25 hours and most other for much longer than that, so I was determined to sleep as long as possible.  Fortunately I didn’t because then I would have missed the players’ tour of the Panda Research Base the next morning!

Ah, the day of the police escort…  For the 30 minute ride to the panda base, we had a cop leading our bus the whole way (as a note, the banners for WCG still lined the road two full miles from the venue) and other cops along our route blocking intersection traffic so we could pass.  We were rushed around the base by our volunteers/herders and tour guide, but the pandas were epically adorable.  On the ride home, I sat with a group of referees in panda (excuse me, pander, as the Chinese pronounce it) hats and got to know Nicholas White, an Australian ref who has attended several WCG final events.

Upon returning to Century City, the combination hotel/event hall, we got our passes and entered the venue for the first time.  And here, we come to our agreement from my last post.  These aren’t the original “scantily-clad ladies” I was promising, but readers, feast your eyes on the lovely booth girls of Samsung!

These beautiful girls (and several very attractive guys) populated every exhibitor booth in various teams of costumes.

There were futuristic soldiers, elves, school girls, deal-or-no-deal types, space aliens, airline stewardesses, and even some cat-girls… whatever best related to the individual products (however tenuously).

What’s more, they all spoke at least some English, and were always eager to help me understand or get me to participate.

So suck on it, boys… I got to be around tons of hot Chinese girls and you didn’t. :P

Coming next installment… how Team USA fared and who owned the most face! (hint: it wasn’t us)

GameX: It’s Got Bawls

Sorry, blog!  I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy catching up with everything I missed this week while sick.  As a gesture of apology, the next post will focus entirely on scantily clad women. :D

TSP GameX

This was the first year for Pennsylvania’s new gaming affair, GameX.  Held in the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center near Valley Forge National Park, it was a bit out of the way for convention-goers more accustomed to metropolitan travel, but the expo still managed to attract a large number of attendees.  This may be due in part to GameX’s attempt to appeal to multiple crowds within gaming culture.

For the casual gamers who love to play with friends, there was a large Bring Your Own Computer area, the Alienware Arena, a bay of 98 Alienware PCs loaded with games and open to everyone, and as well as a ring of Xbox 360s and Playstation 3 running mostly fighting games hosted by the GXL team.

TSP Alienware

Competitive PC players had three gauntlets to run in the Alienware Arena in Team Fortress 2, Flash Point: Dragon Rising, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Unreal Tournament 3.  Console fans could duke it out in Street Fighter 4, Halo 3, BlazBlue, and more at the GXL booth or try their hands at Smash Brothers and Rock Band 2 on the main stage with the ladies of PMS Clan.  Prizes ranged from t-shirts and cases of energy drinks to hundreds of dollars and three real Epiphone guitars!

Just interested in looking around?  GameX has you covered there too!  Industry panels and exclusive screenings ran all weekend in the theatre room and the Artists’ Alley and Steampunk Gallery both had some amazing and funny pieces on display (and for sale!).  Gaming celebrities like The Escapists’ famous fast-talking Aussie critic Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw from Zero Punctuation and several cast members of the popular web show The Guild were on-hand to chat and sign autographs in the red carpet section.
TSP Zero

Interactive booths from Ubisoft, MSI, Hi-Rez Studios, Dante’s Inferno and Warhammer Online, Turtle Beach,  and more ringed the walls and dotted the showcase floor, offering attendees lots of free swag and exclusive gameplay opportunities.  Other companies like RockyBid.com, Dust-Off, Bawls, and Steel Series offered great deals on products and services.  There were displays from local robotics teams and local Jedi teams. And just when you thought the day was over, live bands took over the main stage to serenade the attendees with game-inspired ballads and mash-ups of well-known game soundtracks.

As a special treat for industry insiders and the hard-working volunteers, there were several VIP parties once the doors closed on the convention hall each night.  While many enjoyed the upscale wine and cheese soiree on Friday night, I loved the bouncing between the GameX and The Escapists’ parties at Arnold’s Family Fun Center on Saturday.  Laser tag, bumper cars, beer, and Bawls: everything a gamer could ask for to unwind!

TSP Bawls

GameX has already posted their 2010 date (October 22nd-24th for those wondering) so I hope it’s safe to say this event will be around to enjoy again.  I look forward to seeing how the convention grows, if it changes spaces, and what it has in store for the future!

The Comic Con This City Deserves

TSP BACC

Wizard’s Big Apple Comic Con descended upon our local Gotham this weekend in a flurry of nerdy celebrities, comic books, and costumed heroes.  I was there as a host with UFragTV, who were brought on by Wizard to exclusively cover the event.  Our booth was right inside the main entrance, next to our friends at Slappa and backed by a gaming section filled with consoles manned by the guys of GXL.

Our schedule was packed from the minute I arrived on Friday.  There were loads of semi-famous actors, wrestlers, and Playboy bunnies in the celebrity area, a couple of enthusiastic game designers, and more artists than we could ever do justice.  Big Apple Comic Con was my first departure from my usual fare of anime conventions and gaming events, so it took some getting used to the fact that, no matter how much of a geek I thought I was, I had no street cred in the world of Trekkies or comic nitpickers.  This was probably for the best as I could stay on task and not wander off after the first flirty guy in Master Chief armor…

TSP master Chief1

We managed to score some really high-profile interactions throughout the weekend with names like Linda Hamilton (Terminator), Adam West (Batman), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Micky Dolenz (The Monkees), and Lou Farrigno (The Hulk).  There were also some repeat favorites from last weekend’s VGXPO like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Neil Kaplan (Transformers) who were very sweet about talking to us again.  Gil gave an excellent interview, especially once he and I were joined by his very funny co-star Erin Gray.  Later, Neil was kind enough to turn on his Optimus Prime voice and record a quick hello to my roommate John.

When we were waiting to collect Adam West for his interview, it was my job to stand at his booth until he was ready, then walk him across the floor to our recording area.  I was a grinning fool, absolutely cowed by this super witty and dashing actor, pictures showcasing his talents as Batman and the mayor from Family Guy in front of him in neat rows.  His agent asked if Adam could promote his DVD “Adam West Naked.”  Definitely.

TSP AdamWestNaked_front

Saturday, I scored two interviews in a row that made me rush to my phone to text my mom.  First, being the only one in our host team to have watched/listened to The Monkees (and somehow also the youngest?), I spoke to Micky Dolenz about his current work and favorite comics and he openly hit on me for a cheap laugh.  Next was Vincent Pastore who plays Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on The Sopranos.  He wasn’t too excited to be interviewed, but did take time to talk about his adventures in stage acting and stand-up comedy and to say “Pauly Walnuts” enough times to make me giggle on-air.

Aside from Nintendo’s Wii resort that let people play a few new games, the main gaming news came from Vigil’s world premier of their trailer for Darksiders.  In a very intimate viewing organized by Joe Madureira, the game’s creative director, we were treated to the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen, who is framed for bringing about the apocalypse early when he arrives at Earth alone.  War is given a chance to redeem himself and find the one responsible, and to do so he must fight through both angelic and demonic hordes that now inhabit an earth devoid of humans.  As Joe Madureira put it, “This is the only game that will let you pick up a car and slam an angel in the head with it, I guarantee you.”

TSP Darksiders

Comic Con was super fun, and we at UFrag TV are all very grateful to the celebrities and artists that took time to talk to us.  Keep watching UFragTV.com for more live, streaming coverage of all the best events!

TSP UFrag

Philly’s VideoGame Expo

TSP VGXPO

VGXPO, America’s Video Game Expo, has consistently been a positive experience for me.  The first time I attended this small event in Philly, I met and interviewed Athena Twin (Amber Dalton), the co-founder of the all-girl gaming clan Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers for a college paper.  She recommended I apply to PMS and one month later I was taken on as co-leader of the clan’s first Team Fortress 2 team.

The following year at VGXPO 2008, Amber hired me to man a shoot-out booth for Sapphire, a sponsor at the time.  I was undefeated save three losses all weekend in Quake 4 and got my first paycheck as a gamer.

This year, I went as a guest host for UFrag TV, a site that does live, streaming coverage of gaming events.  Thanks to the UFrag guys, I had the best time yet.

My friends/colleagues/agents at NoobToob, Aaron and Jason, were kind enough to set me up with UFrag TV, so TorcH and I woke up early and made our way into the city to the Philadelphia Convention Center by 11am, way before the doors opened to attendees at 2pm.  I met Shane, the ship’s captain, and he introduced me to Tim, the guy who tells us what to do, and JR and Alphonso, the guys in front of the camera.  They accepted TorcH into manual labor in exchange for a coveted “exhibitor” wristband (he and I generally dislike paying to get into events) and I was given a few quick tips on how to work with the mics and cameras and where to stand.

We were introduced to The Smoke, the pro-wrestler/celebrity liaison for the event.  He helped score names like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Neil Kaplan (Optimus Prime from Transformers, Tychus Findlay of StarCraft2).  Trevor was assigned to pulling pictures from the web and making overlays while the other hosts and I ran around securing interview slots.

For the most part, our interviews went smoothly.  I was pretty nervous having never done live broadcasting, only recorded interviews with Noob Toob.  Once I got a hang of the hand motions and set-ups though, it was all down to coming up with questions on the spot!  Here I admit I got a bit nervous.  There are a couple questions I regret never asking, but alas, the moment has passed.  I also learned a lot about cursing on air and when it is and is not appropriate.  Very important.

Some highlights were the fantastic 4G wifi connection courtesy of Clear: Open Air that kept us tethered to the internet.  Tommy Tallarico, the co-creator of the orchestra experience Video Games Live gave us a great interview on Saturday (that he made me take my shoes off for so as not to tower over him) and consequently got us scolded.  Later on-stage while judging the costume contest he spoke to us about furries and romance.  We also had some serious news as we looked into Nintendo’s preview of  upcoming releases, a independent hand-held console company, and lots of new faces in the field of game design.

It was a tough three days, but worth every minute because I had a really awesome time helping out at UFrag.  All the exhibitors and personalities who participated in interviews brought a lot of energy (especially that guy from Monster who kept delivering cans of it).  And in the end, I feel like I truly bonded with some cool dudes who do great things for gaming.

For more information on VGXPO, go to http://www.videogame.net

Check out http://www.UfragTV.com for live coverage of all the best gaming events and streaming video from gamers all over the world!

Showdown in Chengdu – Preparation

TSP WCG

This past weekend the WCG National Finals were held in New York City.  The finals were where teams earned the right to represent in USA in games like Counterstrike, Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, Starcraft, and more at the WCG Grand Finals  a.k.a. the “Olympics of Videogames.”  In light of my partner TorcH winning the Wise Star 2 Mob!le Challenge from Samsung, we have been making preparations for our trip to Chengdu, China with the rest of the winners.

Hoping to make myself useful along the way, I will be doing coverage for my friends at NoobToob.tv!  I have also applied to become a WCG referee, which would allow me to get up close to the action during those all-important final matches.  Keep an eye on my Twitter: http://twitter.com/SeltzerPlease for more information leading up to and all during the event!

TSP WiseStar2

TorcH, meanwhile, has been practicing hard at his game, Wise Star 2, which involves matching groups of planets or activating bombs to eliminate them from the board.  Each space on the board must be cleared at least once to complete the level.  In a competitive challenge, the first player to cause an explosion in every cube of the board wins.   For a touch of humor, here’s a shot of TorcH looking unnecessarily furious during his post-victory interview with WCG’s Rivington:

WCGinterview

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