The sign read: “The WCG event is on the other side, on the East Side of the bridge.”
They could have at least made a ‘your WCG is in another castle’ joke. Come on guys – that gag was wide open.
Overheard: “this place smells like a festival”, and I couldn’t agree more – the opening WCG event also looked and kinda felt like a small scale festival in some respects. It was outdoors, dotted with tents, and there were a handful of burger vans sporadically placed in the vicinity. There was a giant projector screen on the other side of the river, accompanied by a stage. A couple of hours later I would watch five men dressed in white break dancing on that stage.
This wasn’t exactly the church hall LAN atmosphere I was expecting.
According to organiser David Powell, it’s all about awareness, and rebranding the WCG for a wider audience.
“We’ve got a series of events over the course of the year designed to lift the profile of the World Cyber Games,” claims David, “hence events like tonight which are all about getting people aware of the brand – then as we get into the qualifying events later in the year we’ll really focus on the e-sports dimension as well.
“I think it starts with the awareness factor,” he continues. “There’s a perception around WCG that it’s very hardcore PC gaming, it’s locked in basements, news stories of people keeling over from malnutrition – it’s shedding that image.
“90% of Australians have a gaming device in their home – this is not a niche market and as an industry there’s an incentive to open up the idea of competitive gaming. At the moment you have people who love playing their console and possibly they plug in a second controller, but there are millions that don’t play online, that don’t even play multiplayer gaming. It’s about opening that up. Australia is a competitive nation! We love competing, and this is another sport!”
David’s goal is to increase the reach of competitive gaming, but he also has greater plans in the works to increase Australia’s standing internationally. A combination of good contacts overseas, and raw ambition has David believing that we could see the World Cyber Games finals being held in Australia as soon as 2012.
“It’s the dream,” he says, almost wistfully, “but it’s more than a dream! It’s our goal is to have the international finals here in 2012. That’s what we’re pushing for. I think we have a really good shot – we have a good relationship with the folks in Korea, we’re the only continent – I think – that hasn’t had it? We’ve certainly got infrastructure to support it. We’ve got extensive support, the industry as a whole is behind us.”
The event itself barely felt like a site for hardcore, competitive gaming, but perhaps that was the point. We're keen to see how WCG's presence in Australia evolves over the course of the next few years, and even over the next couple of events this year.
And, who knows, if all goes well we could have the best players in world competing in Australia on our home turf at the World Cyber Games finals in 2012.