SGC Woo!: My Time at the Screwattack Gaming Con
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
What can I say? These guys know how to throw a party. I’ve been to a lot of cons, from the big ones like San Diego Comic Con to smaller local cons like Aki Con here in WA. SGC wasn’t a huge con, but their followers (lovingly called the G1s) make a room of 1,000 people feel like 10,000. Their fans are fervent and never too shy to give a big “SGC WOO!” or a “Hell Yeah!” I was one of the invited press and I couldn’t be more honored to be considered; this convention was an absolute labor of love and this was felt in ever interaction that con attendees would have with the Screwattack Personalities.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this piece, let me give a little backstory. 2013 is this group’s third SGC, but quoting Craig “Stuttering Craig” Skistimas (Owner and Creative Director of ScrewAttack.com) “We’re treating this like the first.” See, that’s because SGC 1 and 2 were held in 2009 and 2010, respectively. I don’t know why there was a hiatus but I am pretty damn glad that they came back this year. I remember hearing about SGC a few years back and it did interest me, I just thought to myself “I’ll make it down eventually.” I’m a huge fan of ScrewAttack and have followed them since Destin Legarie (now of IGN) was the driving force behind their segment “Hard News.” These guys always just seemed like good dudes to hang out with, awesome guys that love to have fun and party and also play games. That’s exactly what this con was like - a fun party.
Day one was a light day for me. First off (in an attempt to save on hotel fees) I flew in on a red eye Thursday night and made it to Dallas early Friday morning. With Dallas being two hours ahead of Seattle, I was literally running on 3 hours of sleep. Luckily my room was ready early in the morning and I was able to get a nap in. I woke up just in time to start wandering and tried to find the press room. Fun story, no one knew where it was; I heard it would have M&Ms and snacks in it, but mostly I needed the WiFi code since a high speed/not bogged down internet was pretty much needed for uploading videos/tweeting/overall coverage. Thanks to Craig's wife (Kristen was it?) and a new friend I made, we eventually found it... no M&M's but Craig's wife eventually got us some!
As said earlier, I made a friend! I met Marissa who goes by the name Lovely2Die4, a member of Ladies2Die4 (check out their website and like their Facebook page). She also came to the convention alone without her team so we bonded immediately, mostly to find that damn elusive press-room. She’s a really awesome lady and the main reason why this wasn’t a lonely con. In fact, it was thanks to her I was able to nab an interview with DJ Cutman!
It was like a big ass slumber party and everyone, even the Screwattack personalities, were all friends just playing games and shooting the shit
My first panel of day one was the Death Battle panel. Death Battle is a series on Screwattack where they pit two video game/fantasy/comic book characters against each other and they fight to the death. They fully research the strengths and weaknesses of the characters and unlike other shows that rely on fan voting or geeky bias to determine winners, they make a decision based on facts… regardless of bias. In fact, they’ve mentioned that many times they were forced to kill their favorite characters in favor of facts. Think Deadliest Warrior without the computer program crunching the outcomes. My other main panel of day one was the Hey Ash Whatcha Playing panel; it was a great panel but Anthony Burch was missing from the panel. Ash was there but I was hoping their dad “Papa B” would make an appearance. Love their show and love what they do, and if you’ve never seen an episode… check them out on Gametrailers and see what all the buzz is about.
I spent a bit of time in Indie Heaven and laid the groundwork to interview a few devs from some of the Indie games they had on display. Didn’t play much but it was an impressive sight, I’ll have a full write up of my Indie Game adventures coming soon. I got a chance to interview two folks on my first day. The first was DJ Cutman (check out his website and his label GameChops!), a delightful guy and a gracious interviewee! He’s a cool and down to earth guy who loves video game culture and contributes with his art. Chris from Shiny Loot was also a delightful guy; their concept of the “un-client games delivery client” is an intriguing take on where delivery of games can go. I will be featuring both these interviews in the coming weeks.
Cosplay was a bit light, the con isn’t huge so there wasn’t a lot of cosplay, but coming from a guy who’s used to the scene over at anime conventions where costumes are frequent and elaborate, this con’s atmosphere was a bit different for me. I tried not to stay out too late and I was already feeling tired after such a long day, but I did get to check out the arcade and play a few games. Apparently some folks were in that room well into the morning hours and personally I could use the sleep… plus, not having my team with me did make it harder.
Day two was a busier day; I woke up a little late but still managed to hit a few panels. My first panel of the day was Violent Video Games and You; it was a panel to outline the convoluted way that politicians try to curb the games industry by means of a sin tax, along with the ways the media likes to portray games in such a negative light after tragedies like Sandy Hook. I’m not saying that conversations should not be brought up, but the constant scapegoating of the games industry is annoying. The panel was very insightful and entertaining, especially when Adam Sessler made it a point to state that the supreme court ruled that games are a protected form of free speech and regardless how many states try to tax the sale or prohibit the sale of violent video games, they are bound by law and are unable to do that. Speaking of Adam Sessler, his One on One panel was the highlight of my Saturday. I’ve always enjoyed hearing him talk and was a huge fan of X-Play back in the day, and even now with his new gig on Rev3 Games, I still enjoy watching this man work. He’s got a very direct personality and overall he’s an entertaining guy to watch. Though they were going on at the same time, I checked out both the Mega 64 panel and the Cinemassacre/Angry Video Game Nerd panel, both panels did a great job curtailing to their fans. The AVGN panel was quite a bit more packed than Mega 64, but AVGN seems more like the “hometown hero” at a con full of Screwattack G1s (AVGN was originally a Screwattack show mind you). I enjoyed the Mega 64 panel quite a bit. Those guys are freaking hilarious and I wish I caught more of it.
I was finally able to add a few more interviews under my belt. I got a chance to sit down with Cassie Chui, the level designer and pixel artist of Electronic Super Joy, a unapologetically hard platformer set to a fantastic high energy soundtrack (which I will be giving away on the Facebook page soon, stay tuned!) with a very unique art direction. Interviewed the guys over at Dinosaur Studios, a group of game development veterans (the bloke I spoke to worked on Bloodrayne 2), about their forthcoming side scrolling beat-em-up MechKnight Chronicles. Also got a chance to sit down with David Gates of Osiris Studios and talk about their forthcoming labor of love Mists of Stagnation, a steam punk themed shooter already looking very impressive in the early alpha stages.
That night is where the real party started. There were two huge parties directly across from each other; one was the DJ Cutman set where this super talented DJ slices and dices various video game and chip tune hits into danceable tracks (think EDM and Dubstep for geeks). The other room, the room I started in and arguably the largest initial draw, was the Mario Party After Dark panel. Four friends get together over Mario Party and with lots of booze, the end result is a lot of harsh words and trash talk, but of course in the most entertaining way possible. Screwattack’s Chad and Sam represented team Yoshi and Luigi, respectively, with former Screwattack personalities Jared Knabenbauer (ProJared) and Destin Legarie (of IGN) representing team Mario and Wario. If you check out the VLOG for day two, you’ll see exactly how bananas this night ended up. Mario Party After Dark ran long, went for damn near 2 and ½ hours, and at this point the folks started pouring into DJ Cutman’s set. Overall, none of us got to bed till like 4AM. What a way to end a Saturday, right?
Finally, the last day of the con, this day proved to be much shorter but not without its surprises. After checking in with a few of the devs in the Indie Heaven room, I went to the finals of the Iron Man of Gaming Tournament. A little backstory: throughout the entire con, they held a tournament to find the Iron Man of Gaming Champion. I didn’t get a chance to check out the earlier matches, but I was glad to check out the finals. Two big surprises for the final games! With a handful of gamers left and two mystery games to play, the first game revealed was the DuckTales Remastered. The game wasn’t the final build and it looked like a demo, but the fact they were able to get this game is pretty damn awesome… and this last mystery game sent the crowd into a frenzy. With four gamers left, the game to decide the final winner would be Killer Instinct, and no I don't mean the old one… I’m talking about the one that was just revealed at E3 a little over a week ago. Damn! What a way to end it! I'm still not totally sold on the XBONE, but something about that game makes me want one, perhaps after the first price drop right? They went right into the closing ceremonies and from this it was obvious just how much of a labor of love this convention was. This was unlike any con I have ever been too.
I’ve had the privilege to go to some pretty big conventions, notably SDCC and some of my hometown cons like Sakura Con and ECCC, but never have I ever been to a con that felt like this. It was like a big ass slumber party and everyone, even the Screwattack personalities, were all friends just playing games and shooting the shit. This was awesome, and I hope they can do this again next year. I have zero complaints about this con, it was a blast! Thank you so much Stuttering Craig for creating such a closely knit community, thank you so much Craig’s wife who helped me find the press room and hooking me up with M&M's, and a big thanks to Sean Hinz for pretty much running the entire convention and inviting us from Lifted Geek to attend; ya’ll are awesome and I loved every minute of this convention. Get lifted.