Firing Squad Invitational Tournament
Each year there are certain trade shows that we really look forward to attending. The reasons for this are obvious; You get out of the office for a few days, meet up with old friends and business associates, talk about games and technology and to some extent gossip about each other, and at the end of each chaotic day of rushing from booth to booth and suite to suite, hit the local bars and industry parties and drink, sometimes until the sun comes up. One of our favorite trade shows is Computex. Computex takes place each year in June in Taiwan, one of the most dynamic cities in the world.
Last year we decided to try something different from our previous Computex visits and invited the top name PC manufacturers to participate in an industry invitational gaming tournament. The tournament was a BYOC event in which each competing company was asked to submit their “Ultimate Gaming Rig” for our analysis and performance evaluation. Based on the performance of each system, we handed out awards based performance, design, and ingenuity.
One of the disadvantages of a trade show like Computex is that you get to see all the latest and greatest hardware, but rarely if ever do you actually get to see how fast it really works. Our invitational changes that since we are actually able to get our hands on the hardware that is displayed on the showroom floor a week before the show. This gives us the ability to know in advance what the manufacturers are working on and how good their engineers are at tweaking their hardware.
The other concept behind the invitational was to allow us to see what the engineers could do with the hardware they manufacture. In other words, what can a “modder” do if he has the resources of a full-blown engineering department behind him?
We received most of the gaming systems the weekend before Computex launched. Brandon and I had 3 days and nights to throw everything we had at these systems and came away with some real surprises. On the day of the tournament all the systems were shipped to the World Trade Center where we had setup the ballroom on the 33rd floor overlooking the whole of Taipei.
We spent a hectic and nerve wracking morning running around doing the innumerable things that are involved in setting up a LAN that can almost never be anticipated until the actual moment comes: not enough power cables, or some people forgot their mice/keyboards, not enough game software disks, picking up the little bits of plastic and styrofoam etc. After what seemed like an impossibility, the network was set up and the tournament could progress. This was a pivotal moment, as there were several significant factors against the tournament progressing in the first place. Number one was the time, manpower and equipment constraints of the various manufacturers. For anyone who has ever worked in marketing, trade shows are both exhilarating and exhausting, but mostly the latter. There are so many details to take care of, that all other details in your life for at least two weeks before the show become minor issues relegated to the back burner. Trade shows are incredibly important to a company’s image in front of customers and the media, often being one of the few times a year vendors and customers meet face to face. If the booth design is poor, or there aren’t enough promotional materials, or free gifts or refreshments, you can bet the marketing people who planned the event will be the whipping boys (or girls).