After the resounding success of the first
outing, I was eager to bring the outdoor gaming fun to a larger
audience. I wouldn't have to wait long. Less than a month later
it was time for Anime
Evolution, Vancouver's annual anime convention. Elliott and
I signed up for the full 3 days of insanity and headed up by bus.
What we found was a lot different than we had expected. Instead
of the neat orderly event which had been held in the new convention
center downtown the year previous, we found roughly 4 billion
costumed fanboys terrorizing the UBC campus. This meant there
was as much or more of the event taking place on lawns and between
buildings as there was inside. It would be perfect for some gaming
on the go.
The second day we gathered up the necessary gear. Pentium was
nowhere to be found so we were limited to bus travel. I decided
to go with the smaller Commodore 1702 over my honkin' Sony PVM,
both to increase runtime and make the trip up a hell of a lot
easier. Games were Mario Kart 64, Starfox 64 and Smash Bros. In
the backpack was 4 controllers, rumble packs, A/V cables, an extension
cord and my geiger counter. I also brought a pair of brownies
to give out as prizes.
I'm afraid I have no photos of the trip up as Elliott and I had
our hands full. Suffice it to say that we were hot and the items
were heavy, but we made it.
We decided to start in the shade of some trees behind what was
serving as the main building for the madness.
Our gear went together in a flash...
And before the screen had come up there were people wanting to
Elliott takes on the first players with his usual cheery disposition.
I had no idea how the day was going to go. I was aware of how
ridiculous we looked, and feared we would be a bit too silly for
Then I remembered we were at an anime convention.
In minutes we were being swamped by people wanting a turn.
Ahh, but eventually the crowd thinned as people had had their
round. Even Elliott briefly wandered off to let some friends know
he had arrived. It seemed our shady location was bad for visibility.
So we packed up and started wheeling around in search of a better
The crowd got much thicker as we moved around to the front of
the building. That seemed more like it. I felt it was a little
too thick though. We'd be in the way if we just sat down in the
middle of it all. Not to mention distracting, given how loud a
game of Mario Kart tended to be. So we kept going until we were
on the edge of the crowd. It's a good thing we did, because we
ended up directly beside the path to the bus stop which nearly
everyone was using to get in and out of the con. Now we were getting
We set up and found ourselves surrounded. There was an endless
stream of people shouting "That's soo awesome!" or "Oh
my god, they're playing Smash Bros!" as they passed by. The
28 year old Commodore monitor was still plenty bright for the
mid day sun and its little speaker was pumping iconic '90s video
game music across the field. And it's a good thing, because we
had no shortage of people eager to play. We were able to sit back
and enjoy the crowd as 4 players at a time battled it out under
the pine trees. This also let us alternately go off to meet friends,
get interviewed by the passing fans and take in a few panels.
Wait, panels? Just how long did this UPS last? Well, it turns
out that with the smaller monitor we were able to keep it up for
around 2 and a half hours! During that time it saw constant use
from countless anime fans without a single hiccup.
But nothing lasts forever, and eventually the charge indicator
on the UPS was down to its last light. So as soon as the current
game finished I packed it all up and wheeled the lot across the
campus to the building which had been taken over for console gaming.
The moment I entered the room there was a cheer and excited people
came to greet me. "The N64 is here!" someone had shouted.
It seems they were supposed to be holding a tournament in just
a few minutes and no one had been able to find the N64 they brought.
When they saw mine they mistook it for their own. I had to explain
why on earth I was carrying one around an anime convention if
it wasn't for their tournament before they would let me go. But
then I proposed a deal. Might I borrow an outlet to charge my
UPS in exchange for loaning them my N64 and controllers? That
was perfectly fine by them, so I handed it over and found a quiet
corner to park the rest of my gear.
Elliott and I chose this moment to take in the rest of the con
while we didn't have any equipment to worry about. And when we
did return, the tournament was just finishing up. What followed
was a most unusual conversation as we attempted to wheel our stuff
out of the games room. It went something like:
"Where are you going with that?"
"This is our equipment."
"Oh, we don't allow outside consoles in the games room."
"That's okay, we're just leaving."
Followed by a lengthy explanation.
By now it was a little after 4 and we had a good charge, so we
set back up in the location which had served us so well before.
I was expecting Ali at one point and since he's too cheap to have
a cell phone, I simply had to make sure we were somewhere he would
have to stumble across. Whenever he got around to showing up.
That turned out to be quite late, and by then my batteries were
getting low again. So I pulled out my secret weapon: The extension
By some stroke of luck there was an outdoor outlet on the wall
of what was serving as the dealer's room. The extension cord was
just long enough to go across the foot path, over a 10 foot drop
and under a bicycle rack to reach it. Then we were set for the
And it's a good thing, because Ali finally made an appearance
along with Devenne. Now we had the Smash Bros king to show those
cartoon-watching freaks how it was done!
The gaming continued long into the night. That little CRT monitor
was like a bug zapper, sending out its geek-attracting photons
for what seemed like miles. Try as I might I wasn't able to get
far enough away that its light couldn't find me. And since we
were sitting next to the path that lead to the bus loop, nearly
every con goer passed us on their way home. A lot of them decided
to have a final game.
Some of them decided to have two.
When midnight finally rolled around we decided to shut it down
and pack up. Ali offered to drive us home, and with some careful
squashing we managed to get all 4 of us and the equipment into
All told the day went brilliantly. We had no technical problems
and all the players had a great time. You can be sure this won't
be the UPS's last outing.
Page created December 27th 2010