Posts Tagged ‘Dance Dance Revolution’

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!

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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!