HMX On The Road- Leipzig Update #2

The rest of the conference was cool, though it got extremely nutty yesterday with the addition of thousands of fans from Europe flooding the LGC show floor. While I love shows like this (fans first, etc), I have to say I prefer the vibe of PAX, which is one of curated mayhem rather than…well, just plain mayhem. Also, basically everyone at PAX speaks English, which is mad helpful when you’re trying to say “I’m carrying a huge case full of video game equipment…can you get the eff out of my way” to a crowd of cosplayers whose outfits are dragging into the walkway. ANYWAY, a few anecdotes from the rest of the conference since I last wrote:

#1 – "Official Parties"

The “official Games Convention Party” was on Friday night (I think it was Friday…days of the week get confusing). It was at some sort of epic manor just outside of town, which was lit up with insanely intense green floodlights (green being the color of LGC) and packed full of people. When I arrived with Brent D (our fantasgreat EA rep), The Hellion, HMXaleX and our EA Euro Rep “Sharp-Sharp”, we trucked inside only to find huge lines for beer, poorly ventilated space (the mugginess of the human condition never ceases to amaze me), and, as always, a lot of people from Europe who know each other and have never seen us before.

The idea of an “official industry party” for a games convention is new to me, having never being to Leipzig before. E3 and GDC have lots of evening events, and some of them (Microsoft parties, most often) end up being a sort of industry wide thing, but at those shows, we tend to stay with our peoples rather than wander about en masse. Leipzig showed why to a large extent. I’d like to think that video games are crossing over into the world of mainstream cool, but there are still plenty of questionable cultural choices to be made….one in particular that stood out was the band that played the event.

I know that Germany hasn’t always had the most uniformly excellent taste in music (I’m looking at you Hassellhoff), but it’s seemed like the times I’ve gone there recently, people are cultured and knowledgeable about the world of tunes. This band was not reflective of that. They were, from what I could tell, a 6 piece Rockabilly-eqsue cover band of 50s and 60s American hits. This sounds like it could be AWESOME…I assure you, it was really effing weird. The whole time, me and HMXaleX commented that we felt like an alien race was appropriating our culture and delivering a surprisingly accurate facsimile, but it felt dead inside. Then the damn drummer/lead singer (PHIL COLLINS STYLE!), proceeded to play a declaratively mediocre 7 minute drum solo. He left the kit behind to sing “Hit The Road Jack” (an amazing tune), but before he did, he put on black Ray Bans and began swaying back and forth as if he was blind. I almost punched him. Did I mention that they were all wearing these weird jumpsuit things and had pompadours? I guess I didn’t. It was bizarre.

We split pretty early. Again, as I mentioned in my first blog, all the drinks were lukewarm (including the beer, which always sets The Hellion on edge…), so we retired to our hotel to rest up for more rocking.

#2 – “The Mayor of Leipzig” and other sights and sounds of Leipzig

This is a quick and random story. So while HMXaleX, The Hellion, Brent D and I were waiting for our morning train to the Convention Center, we heard distant sirens. Looking down the street, we saw quite a lengthy police escort slowly processing down one of the major thoroughfares of Leipzig. We looked to see who might be coming that would deserve a police escort (Peter Moore and tennis champions perhaps??), only to be greeted by one of the most confusing tableaus of all time. In the 4th car out of 6, full police sirens blaring, sat a man in a full sized crow costume. That is to say, there was a giant anthropomorphic bird in the back of this convertible police car, sitting up on the edge like it was the damn pope-mobile. I turned to HMXaleX, whose jaw was dragging on the ground, and calmly remarked “oh look, it’s the mayor of Leipzig.”

Two quick follow-ups: A) We later saw a fan at LGC dressed up in a full wolf costume and taking photos with other fans. HMXaleX decided this was the comptroller of Leipzig. B) There was also a huuuuuuge “Sackboy” statue in the center of the square opposite our hotel. (For those who only rock in gaming, Sackboy is the main character model for the upcoming “LittleBigPlanet” on PS3, a hotly anticipated title). It was a sad-faced Sackboy…who was crying. And occasionally HUMONGOUS JETS OF WATER would SHOOT OUT OF HIS FACE AT BYSTANDERS. You know, to emphasize that he was REALLY EFFING SAD. Hey Sony, I get the whole “emotions in gaming” thing that you’re going for, but moisturizing the populace with oversized character tears is not what I was expecting…

Finally, we saw something a little depressing on the way back to our hotel after day 3 of work, which I guess got coverage on Kotaku. As we were trying to make our way back to the Radisson SAS, we got stuck behind a bus that was causing quite a stir. Atop this bus was a cavalcade of scantily clad women, shaking what god gave them at other cars and passers by, promoting their nightclub where they remove even more garments. This seemed to be a significant annoyance to the locals, including the old women (whose faces screamed “I am not your target audience, put those away!) and motorists (whose faces screamed “I am from Europe and see boobs all the time on late night TV, please move your bus so that I can drive to my destination”). Apparently the bus made its way to the convention center as a final promotional stop, much to the confusion of the gamers, who were far more interested in the latest C&C information than any T&A information.

I’ll have a few more musings from my endless discussions/interactions with our cloistered English speaking crew that I’ll write up during my flight. In the meantime, happy rocking and I’ll see you all states-side!