Two weeks ago I had the honour of attending an invite-only event in London’s Troxy Theatre, previewing the upcoming videogame ‘Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’. It was an immaculately constructed event, as is the norm when at a gathering arranged by internet giant IGN. If you want my opinion on the game, here’s the place to go –http://www.ign.com/blogs/k-swizzle. Because as great as the event was, something happened totally unrelated to the game on show that really stuck with me, and reaffirmed to me why I love being part of the videogame community.
I arrived at the theatre just before 7pm, my old friend and plus-one Alex with me, and was warmly greeted by the outrageously good looking staff. We were shepherded to our seats, and as we were a little late (thanks London Underground), slipped into seats at the back. We enjoyed the presentation, soaked up the following Q&A, applauded to show our appreciation, and excitedly moved to the demonstration area. After a few minutes of playing through a tutorial, something struck me – where the Hell was my Playstation Vita?! For those who don’t know, that’s basically a £200 portable gaming console, otherwise known as a geek’s wet dream.
Ofcourse, during the presentation, it had somehow slipped out of my pocket. I shot up from my beanbag seat, ran through the demo area back into the theatre, and felt my heart sink as I saw the empty space in and around the chair I was in minutes before. Of course it was taken, I was in a building with 200 gamers, and left the newest handheld console ripe for the taking. With three of the previous Final Fantasy games already installed on it! Someone hit the jackpot.
With absolutely no hope it would help, I asked the security and staff around the building if they saw or had been handed anything. Nothing. Dejected, I sat back down, my beanbag suddenly feeling a lot less comfortable. This is London after all, it wouldn’t have surprised me if I was mugged for the Vita on my way to the theatre, so I had no lingering hope it would miraculously reappear. But this is where I hugely underestimated my gaming peers.
5 minutes later, mindlessly clicking through the same demo I was so excited about just a quarter-hour previously, I felt a tap on my shoulder. One of the stewards I had asked for help was stood behind me: “It was you who had lost the Playstation, right?”
Delighted. The rest of the story is trivial, I was taken to the bar, handed the Vita, checked it was mine, thanked everyone and sat back down, but once again invigorated and ready to play.
I didn’t know who handed that Vita in, and I would never find out, but I did find out something I had forgotten in recent times. Not all ‘hardcore’ gamers are internet trolls who spew vitriol at you for supporting the ‘wrong’ console. Some, most even, are people just like me, who want to find escapism in these rich virtual words and socialise in the real communities that form around them. And most importantly, we wouldn’t do a thing to take any of that away from a fellow gamer.