So I went to GNG’s Tetsuya Mizuguchi Special last night and… it was pretty disappointing.
Right up front I just want to say that the folks behind the GNG should be commended for wanting to do something special like wanting to bring people together to celebrate the work of Mizuguchi. In many of their past events, no matter what the featured game might be, they’ve always have Rez on-hand, and I think that’s awesome. Also, I like the idea of the Gamers Nite Groove, I really do. I love the idea of a regular scheduled gathering for both diehard and casual gamers to come together and get a taste of what else is out there. But that being said, last night’s event was again plagued with numerous problems that have somewhat become typical in the past.
First off, I know that the timing was somewhat poor for some folks that I know would have liked to go but couldn’t. Though I personally did not mind, and one of the main reasons is that they’ve always been on a Friday or Saturday, and I’m generally too busy then (well that and since I sorta know what to expect, I’m never too keen on breaking weekend plans… I’d be more than happy to go on a Friday night, provided it would be totally worthwhile).
And once again, the venue chosen was quite nice; MonkeyTown, a swank loung/restaurant with a very nice and stylish decor (though given the neighborhood, that’s to be expected I suppose), plus the food served looked quite good (someone was dining on a pulled pork sandwich that looked, and smelled, quite delicious, almost enough to make me want to brave the cultural wasteland that is Willamsburg for it). But as nice as the place was… and this is also a reoccurring thing… it just didn’t make a good place to have a large gathering of folks, at least for the purpose of gaming. Then again, that wasn’t much of an issue since the turnout was, in my estimation, pretty abysmal. I think 20 people showed up for it? I have to wonder then, exactly how do they advertise these things? They send out emails, but in the past, I’ve gotten them a day or two AFTER the event; I usually only know about them in advance if Jeremiah tells me, provided he’s playing at the event. The fact that this latest notice was actually timely is somewhat of a small miracle.
Things were supposed to start at 7:00, but I showed up around 7:30 and they still weren’t ready, so I simply waited in the front, main room which has a bar and a dining area filled with tables and couches. Each table had either a DS or PSP, so I played a few games of Lumines till things were ready. Once they were, I made it to the back, which was the “Rez Room”, where the game running off a PS2 was projected on huge 30+ feet plus screens, one on each side of the walls. Plus the sound was booming, so needless to say, it was all quite nice.
When I arrived, one of the guys from GNG was just finishing up Area 2 and I asked to take over for a bit. They were using some Hori wireless pad, and I swear to God, its the worst fucking thing EVER. Seriously. The analogue sticks, besides being far too small, were way too loose. And the digital pad was not better; it too was loose, and the reticule kept on veering up. So I didn’t do as well as I normally do, but I did okay (but not 100% across the board, which is my usual, especially for Area 3, which is my favorite and personal best).
As I played, a few more folks began to trickle in. After finishing the level, I passed the controller to some guy who had never played and didn’t fare too well. Then it was taken by the first guy, the GNG rep, and I’m guessing it was his shoddy controller, because he could at least play well with it (very well actually). The highlight of the entire evening was easily witnessing the Area 4′s “Running Man” totally in your face, 30 feet tall. Unfortunately he made a few missteps near the very end of the boss battle and died, though the tension near the end made it a joy to watch. The guy then asked the room who wanted to play next, and then all of a sudden folks started to bitch and one guy hollered “Change the game!” repeatedly. The GNG guy then informed the crowd that it was the Rez room and they could play other things elsewhere, so many of them simply left.
Also in the middle of this, some scruffy looking guy went around passing around pamphlets for those interested in play-testing cell phone games.
I stuck around for a small bit, then hit the bathroom, which I really can’t describe properly other than its perhaps the coolest bathroom I’ve ever been. Just imagine that scene in 2001 where the guy chases after the monolith… as a bathroom.
I then went back to the front where the wise-asses from before were all huddles over the PSPs and Ds. Some hipsters were playing Sega Rally and Rez, which had replaced Space Channel 5. No one seemed willing to pass the controller to others. Plus, due to the layout, it was impossible to walk around and simply check out what people were playing. There was this big dinner party right next to the DCs, so going near them was awkward to say the least.
The woman who runs the GNG, Taeko Baba was there, and I wanted to ask her some questions, such as if the video preview of Ninety-Nine Nights was on-hand, as well as that surprise which they had been promising (and to see if it was indeed Lumines Mobile as Simon and I was guessing it might be) but the whole time she was being interviewed by a pair of blogger. I waiting and waited… for almost an hour. I even ended up chatting with the manager of the restaurant, who turned out to be pretty cool. But eventually, I simply left, both frustrated and deflated.
Here’s the thing: so much effort is put in getting things together, so I don’t understand why in the end, how they can just drop games into a nice fancy room and just do nothing. And for something special as celebrating Mizuguchi, you’d think there would at least be some sort of info sheet explaining who the hell he is and what his games are all about. The whole point of GNG is reaching out to both gamers and those in the NYC area to help celebrate the form, but as is, that intent is totally lost. I’m well aware of the fact that there’s just a few people behind the scenes, and its a massive undertaking and all, but why do through such trouble for such results. Again, I want to see something like the GNG flourish, but unless it address some very basic issues, its going to forever feel as its just spinning its wheels.
Either that, or maybe New York City really isn’t such a hot place to be if you’re into video games. And last night really reminds me that I have to get off my ass and finish my “To Live And Game In NY” piece for GameSetWatch.