More on Computex 2004
Besides the overworked marketing people that we were relying on to make their participation in the event happen, they were themselves dependent on other departments in order to get the equipment together. You would think it would be easy for most of these companies to set up an “Ultimate Gaming Rig”. However, a lot of the equipment that could have been allotted is either accounted for in engineering or needed for the show itself: any other time of year and it would have no problem, but it still would have taken approval from various departments. The nature of these companies is that they are mostly run by engineers for engineers, with marketing regarded as a necessary evil that no one quite yet understands. Thus any requests by marketing people for “Ultimate Gaming Rigs”, extra power cables or a short screwdriver requires at least a couple of meetings to discuss the issue and then perhaps a few follow up phone calls to make sure the engineers are actually doing what they said they would do, and not testing some obscure low-end video card performance for compatibility with one of their late-model boards sold primarily in the Indian and Chinese markets. This is not to say the engineers do not want to help out the marketing people. It’s just that they have their own priorities that are arguably just as important as or even more so than the marketing department. If Johnny lends out a complete test system to Sally from marketing and then he can’t test a certain class memory for the optimum CAS latency settings to get an extra 20 FPS on high res, then you can bet someone will be sleeping in the lab that night, eating microwaved dumplings and cold boxed milk tea for breakfast.
FiringSquad's award for Highest Overclock
Plaque for all Invitational entrants
Beyond the time/equipment constraints there was the political issue of getting these competing companies together to play games against their bitter cross town rivals. Obviously the computer industry is competitive, and no one wanted to be seen losing to the other guy. Since the stakes of the competition were already pretty high because of the “Ultimate Gaming Rig” awards we were giving out, we decided to make the tournament a friendly match up, rather than a potential political hot potato. And friendly it was: for the setup, we already had (mostly) everybody helping each other out, so by gaming time all the various engineers were old buddies. This is inline with the nature of the computer industry, particularly in Taiwan: even though the companies are themselves pretty competitive, people move between companies regularly. It wouldn’t be totally unheard of to find magnets with a rival companies logo holding in place top secret performance test data on the cubicle walls of some product manager who got the magnets from his buddy who does the same job at the rival’s company.
The format of the tournament we left open to our tournament master provided by EA, a wiry little guy with boundless energy who made sure everyone was familiar with the rules of Battlefield: Vietnam. For the first match, we divided the players into two groups for capture the flag. It was ASUS, Shuttle, Soltek and Gigabyte vs. XGI, NVIDIA, ABIT, PowerColor and Biostar. After a hard fought battle, the winner was the former group, but who’s counting? For the second match, we had our highly coveted Firing Squad T-Shirts, some black, some white, randomly. It was white shirts vs. black shirts, which meant that we had players from different companies squaring off against each other. On one white side it was ASUS, XGI, ABIT, Gigabyte, Shuttle and Soltek vs. the ABIT, PowerColor, XGI, Shuttle and Biostar. The black side ended up winning because of their superb strategy and teamwork.
At the end of the day, everyone had a great time which was the whole point. The companies who participated showed they really care about gaming beyond the usual marketing pitches, and their employees proved it by being great sports and genuinely having a fantastic time.