eBash PC Game Arena @ Gen Con 2014 Review

Our main eBash team at Gen Con 2014

Our main eBash team at Gen Con 2014, many of these guys slept < 10 hours in 4 days.

We had no idea what to expect at Gen Con this year.  A few of our staff have gone before as attendees and they told me that the convention was very big, but seeing numbers on paper like 46,000 unique attendees in 2013 isn’t really the same as being there and seeing the actual people.  We have been working with Gen Con for 3 years to bring a dedicated PC gaming area to the convention and this year the stars finally aligned.

Our custom leaderboard that integrates our software with RIOT's API for real-time tracking of League of Legends Stats.

Our custom leaderboard that integrates our software with RIOT’s API for real-time tracking of League of Legends Stats.

Gen Con just released their attendance numbers yesterday and their growth continues to explode. Over 56,000 UNIQUE attendees in 2014 and over 181,000 turnstiles. This translates into over 45,000 people per day on average attended the show. This also does not account for the thousands who just walked the halls but did not purchase an event badge. You can read the entire press release here:

http://www.gencon.com/press/2014recordattendance

Every morning outside of our room this was the scene before the Exhibit Hall opened at 10 AM.

Every morning outside of our room this was the scene before the Exhibit Hall opened at 10 AM.

The eBash PC eGame Arena was located directly across from the Exhibitor Hall.  I have never seen anything like this in my life. I have included a picture of the main hallway outside our room, which was impassable each morning from 9:30 until the Exhibitor Hall opened at 10:00 AM.

Preparation started on Monday morning at 5 AM when I drove to our Evansville store to pick up 21 of the computers we had used for summer camps and brought them back to Terre Haute. I picked up our Uhaul and we loaded the computers into their shipping boxes along with 39 more from the Terre Haute store and 60 monitors, keyboards and mice. Projectors, switches network cables and everything else were loaded and we took off around 7 PM for our Indianapolis store. There we loaded the remaining 20 computers, monitors, keyboards and mice.

Dustin made us some sweet custom loading screens that featured the games available and gave our sponsors some extra exposure.

Tuesday morning we were at the Convention Center at 11 AM for our noon load-in time. I had to check in at the marshaling yard, something new for me but I feel is standard at large events where there are not enough loading docks for the number of trucks coming in. We were given 1 hour to unload 160+ boxes by hand and with only six people we pulled it off. Shawn then took the Uhaul to the Indy eBash store to meet Fred who was picking up the eBash Mobile trailer full of the racing simulators.

 

This is how the room started, just tables and chairs.

This is how the room started, just tables and chairs.

While they were gone five of us took all of the monitors and computers out of their travel boxes and put them onto the tables. When Fred and Shawn returned with the 24 foot mobile trailer we emptied it out and then filled it back up with the empty boxes. Fred then parked the trailer and we all worked until 8 PM when we had to leave. At that point we had the servers online and one table of computers (10). I drove the Uhaul back to Terre Haute (it was $200 less to drive it round-trip instead of one-way) and the others headed back to the hotel.

IMG_20140812_185836492The next day, Wednesday, we started right at our load-in time of 8 AM and continued to set-up computer stations. The racing simulators were finished quickly that morning and the night before Dustin had created the images for the screens showing the name of our two major partners, Alienware and Razer. We had until 8 PM that evening to get the entire room (60 x 60 or 3600 sq ft) completed.  Since we were running short of time the Gen Con folks gave us until 10 PM, but we actually finished around 9.  We were able to hit the food trucks outside before they closed at 10.

This was our only sign allowed in the hallway this year.  Next year we will have large banners.  Rules are strict in the main hall for signage.

This was our only sign allowed in the hallway this year. Next year we will have large banners. Rules are strict in the main hall for signage.

The next morning we woke at 6 AM and were on the road by 6:30 to arrive at the convention center at 7 AM. We were able to talk our way into the back door and walk through the vendor hall instead of fighting the crowds through the main door. We had about an hour to finish last minute details before our room opened at 8 AM. Immediately we had players waiting at the door for the 8 AM events. We had no idea what was in-store for us the next 4 days.

By 9:30 that morning the hallway outside of our room was impassable. As you can see from the pictures I took the crowd waiting for the Exhibition Hall to open was shoulder-to-shoulder. I have never seen anything like this, and it was the same the next three days as well.

There was always a line for our 5v5 Random events putting 10 strangers on two teams head-to-head.

There was always a line for our 5v5 Random events putting 10 strangers on two teams head-to-head.

The rest of the first day was a blur, as much of the convention ended up being for me. The way Gen Con handles events is through tickets, which can be bought for a specific event or a player can purchase “generic” tickets and use those to fill spots in events that are still available. Over four days I believe we had around 500 events, because each hour we had 10-11 scheduled during the day and 5-6 each night.  Our booth didn’t close until Sunday night and I underestimated how many people would be playing at our stations.

Many of our events ran through brackets on one of the projectors.

Many of our events ran through brackets on one of the projectors.

One problem we quickly found out was that the electricians had not put in the proper amount of circuits we purchased. The 20A circuits were $150 each for 4 days and we had specifically requested 18 of them. Instead, they must have thought they knew more than me and put one circuit for two tables of 5 computers each and just ran two extension cords. That first morning we had our first row of computers shut off all at once when a breaker blew. 10 systems at one time, when we were paying for a circuit for every 5 systems. During the weekend we eventually figured out that most of the islands we set-up were wired the same.

Look how much energy Creed has the first morning we opened!

Look how much energy Creed has the first morning we opened!

The first night I stayed with Dustin until around 3 AM and then left to catch a couple of hours of sleep. Fred and Creed were back to relieve Dustin around 7 AM and one of them drove him back to the hotel because he was so tired. I was back around 8 AM that morning and until 10 it was just Fred, Cred and myself. Matt made it back about 10 so four of us ran the booth until Dustin came back at 5 PM just in time for the League of Legends 1v1 Single Elimination tournament.

Most of the time, this is what we saw looking out of the doors to our eGame PC Arena Room!

Most of the time, this is what we saw looking out of the doors to our eGame PC Arena Room!

Luckily for us Shawn was there all Friday and spent 13 hours reconciling our tickets. As I mentioned we had events going each hour and each event had to have an envelope with a unique ID and an exact count of tickets for that event. It was a madhouse the entire time and I ended up doing tickets all day Saturday and Sunday to keep up. We had to have all of our envelopes turned in before 4 PM on Sunday to get credit with Gen Con.

 

We had 7 zones around the room with 10 PCs per section to help separate events.

We had 7 zones around the room with 10 PCs per section to help separate events.

During the finals of the big 5v5 League of Legends Single Elimination Tournament on Saturday the last championship match finished and not 10 seconds later the circuits tripped for the entire table. We had already been through a few other close call situations with the power but that was probably the biggest. Had that gone out 30 seconds before we would have had to restart the entire match and it could have caused major disputes for the teams.

We gave out Gen Con Champion Medals for winners.  One of my favorite was this guy who I don't think anyone WANTED to defeat. :)

We gave out Gen Con Champion Medals for winners. One of my favorite was this guy who I don’t think anyone WANTED to defeat.

We had 2,656 gamers play for at least one hour each in the eBash PC eGame Arena. We had an estimated 14,000 walk through our room and watch. I was able to meet staff from both RIOT (League of Legends) and Hi-Rez Studios (Smite) who provided us unique skins to give away.   We also are looking at doing on-going events with those companies and others who we met at the show both at our stores and at future conventions.

One of our partners, Alienware, is continuing to support us with gaming systems through the end of the year. We hope to attend another convention in October as well as start up some after-school programs utilizing Minecraft for STEM grant projects as well as PTO fundraisers.

We just finished delivering the equipment back to the stores yesterday and will hopefully have things back to normal by the time our Friday lock-ins start.  It was a TON of work and we learned many things this year at Gen Con, but there is no doubt we want to be back next year and hopefully even double or triple our presence.

A special thanks goes out to the people who physically helped at the convention and at the stores moving equipment and running the booth.  In no particular order, but starting with the most blind:  Matt Pine, Larry Kozlowski, Dustin Dudley, Fred Strohm, Jason McIntosh, Shawn Wells, Zach Rainbolt, Dave O’Neil, John Koen, Ashley Staten, Everett Coleman, Derek Stroot, Heather Thomas, Richard Jeffers, Richard Jeffers’ buddy, Mark Repollet, Dillion Parker, Levi, Ubrcon, Chase Casey, Damij and the many attendees/players  at the convention who helped monitor matches and help with set-up.

eBash Updates

I just spent a few hours updating the “About Us” page for eBash and thought my blog followers might enjoy getting caught up with what is going on with us. Enjoy!

One area of our Terre Haute store.

The doors opened for eBash in December of 2004 after months of hard work and planning by many people. Founder Zack Johnson along with many other volunteers remodeled an old warehouse and office space to initially provide 14 Xbox stations and 14 gaming computers. The grand opening on December 10th, 2004 weekend featured a 48-straight party, meaning 48 hours of non-stop gaming. This has become a bi-annual event at eBash along with many other tournaments and game release parties. eBash continues to grow and strive to expand around the country so that everyone can experience community gaming, professional tournaments and unique gaming events.

The Terre Haute eBash location is our original store.  Our current location was built in 2006 after we moved from the warehouse where the business was started in 2004.  It features 14 Xbox One stations, 4 Playstation 4 stations,  37 Xbox 360 stations, 40 PC stations and a Wii-U station.  These systems are set-up throughout 9 individual rooms and a large lobby area.  One of our famous features is a custom-made 350 gallon aquarium (Yeah, it is big).

Evansville gamers rejoice!  We are here for you!

Evansville gamers rejoice! We are here for you!

Our Evansville location opened in 2008 and moved to its current location in 2010.  Inside you will find a spacious lobby with 4 Xbox One stations, 1 Playstation 4 station and of course a 95 gallon aquarium.  There are 4 “islands” of computers that hold 6 each for bigger computer events.  There are 3 rooms, each with 8 Xbox 360 stations and host regular tournaments.  The rear features a party room that will soon become the 17+ zone for older players to relax away from the sounds of the excited young gamers.

 

The Charleston store is a partnership with HD Gaming, LLC and not owned by eBash corporate.  It opened near the end of 2012 and features Xbox One, Playstation 4, Gaming PCs, Xbox 360, Wii U and all of the great party/group options associated with eBash stores.

Setting up the Indy store for a big tournament.

Setting up the Indy store for a big tournament.

Our newest pride-and-joy is in the form of the massive, 7000+ square foot facility in Indianapolis.  Portions of the store opened to the public near the end of 2013 while the state-of-the art gaming center was completed.  This store features what we are calling a “Universal Station” TM design.  No matter where you sit in the facility you will be able to request access to any console or PC without moving from room-to-room.  There will not be an “Xbox Room” or a PC area any longer.  A father playing Starcraft 2 on a computer can sit next to his son playing Call of Duty on an Xbox One.  But that is not the only thing eBash Indy has to offer.

Our Tournament Team in Action in the Studio!

Our Tournament Team in Action in the Studio!

eBash Indy is also the premier eSports facility in North America.  Located in Indianapolis, IN it is the least expensive place to travel and stay on a national average for all sorts of transportation methods.  With a main stage, cutting edge production/streaming studio and enough space to host events up to 128 teams it is expected to see tournaments for all sorts of games almost every weekend .

What else does eBash do?  In 2013 we added two new lines of business to our already growing and expanding company.  These new areas are yet another feature that sets us apart from any other gaming center in the world.

2013 Brickyard 400 Winner Ryan Newman raced in our seats the morning before he won!

2013 Brickyard 400 Winner Ryan Newman raced in our seats the morning before he won!

The first thing we added in 2013 was our mobile system.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway approached us about providing them with racing simulators of some kind for the upcoming Indianapolis 500.  In just two weeks we built a complete system of 8 racing simulators that operated independently of an internet connection and ran from a generator right in the infield of the track.  Since that first event we also operated at the IMS for the Brickyard 400 and the Moto GP.  Other clients have been names like Radio Disney, NFL Alumni Association and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  To inquire about having eBash at your next big event and learn more visit our mobile page:  www.ebashmobile.com

Video games help get kids interested in learning real-world tech skills.

Video games help get kids interested in learning real-world tech skills.

The other line of business we are excited about is our Create and Play Camp program.  Our camp director, Jason McIntosh, has been teaching programming and technology for nearly 15 years.  He has worked at the Art Institute teaching website design and programming but now is focused full time on teaching kids through video games the basic skills needed for many different technology fields.  Our current courses include subjects like Basic Video Game Design, Mobile Game Design, Video Game Graphics and Animated Websites.  For a full list of our upcoming camps visit www.createandplaycamps.com.

Bringing eBash Evansville Home Again

opportunist-definitionIn the history of eBash many things have happened, both successes and failures.  We started in Terre Haute at an old warehouse in 2004 and then grew and moved to our own building in 2006.   Later that year we brought on investors to help us expand and opened up a small location in Clinton (RIP).  After a few months in Clinton we realized that the town was too close to Terre Haute and we were cannibalizing our own customers so we shut it down and move the equipment to a new store in Bloomington, IN in 2007.

I won’t go into details of what went into making the decisions on each of these steps, but we have learned many things in our journey.  In 2007 we filed in Indiana to be a franchise company and one of our investors helped a guy in Evansville purchase and open our first franchise in the beginning of 2008.   That franchise ramped up nicely and we had it profitable by the end of that year.  Many Evansville customers from those days will remember how great that store was, fiber internet, 5000 square feet, nearly 100 stations, new computers, tournament stage, etc.

I have visited the current location and actually spent the last few weeks assessing the value of the store.  Skip a few steps of how it got to this point (no need to pour salt into wounds) but Evansville gamers find themselves downgraded to use only 2700 square feet.   What was 40 Xbox stations is now *maybe* 10 working systems.  What started as 30 new gaming computers is now currently 6 working systems and another 10 skeletons that don’t power on.  8 Playstation 3 systems back in 2008 have all disappeared, there are none left.  What about the 20Mbps/20Mbps fiber line?  Now the store has two DSL lines that tested today at 5 Mbps/1Mbps.

After 5 years there have been three different groups which have attempted to run an eBash in Evansville and failed.  My partners and current investors think I am crazy for even entertaining the idea of trying to save the store in Evansville.  We have so many great things going for us this year including:  launching our mobile division, opening up a new Indianapolis 7000 square foot facility, an extremely successful summer camp program and plans for even bigger things in the near future.  Why mess with Evansville at all?

I am an opportunist.   I can only see the potential and I sometimes tend to let my heart drive my decisions more than my head.  What does my heart tell me?  That Evansville is a great place for an eBash.  I feel the same way that I did in 2007 when we started planning a store for Evansville.

So this morning I executed an agreement to take over operations of the current location.  Not my first choice, but after spending time there I don’t think it is actually a bad location at all.  Not very big, but the space next door is vacant and ready for expansion.   The key is that we will be opening up for business this Friday, December 27th.

What do we have planned immediately for the store?  How about….

  • New AT&T U-Verse fiber line will be installed Monday, December 30th
  • Installation of some Xbox One and Playstation 4 systems
  • Bring the Xbox 360 count back up to 24 working systems for tournaments
  • Install 12 new computers to bring the decent count to 18 and work to get another 6 good ones put together for a total of 24
  • Begin a standard eBash schedule which includes lock-ins every Friday for all ages and every Saturday for gamers 16 and older
  • Bring back tournaments, at least one per month, for games like Call of Duty, League of Legends and Dota2
  • Start weeknight leagues between all three Indiana eBash locations for games like LoL, CoD, Dota2, Starcraft and more

What do we have planned for the future?

  • Upgrade the U-verse fiber as soon as the newest technology is installed by AT&T scheduled for the first part of 2014
  • Launch the summer camp program in the summer of 2014
  • Grow the store business and take over the space next door, so that we can expand back to closer to 100 stations
  • Build back the tournament stage

The real reason for pursuing this opportunity is that  I am surrounded by great people.  The eBash staff is top notch and we continue to add great people to our team it seems almost daily.  We have a couple great guys that are going to head to Evansville and relaunch the store with a vengeance.  They have awesome personalities, dedicated work ethics and enough energy to take on such a monumental task.

But it isn’t about just having the right people to get started, we will immediately be looking to hire 2-4 other personnel at the store.  More details about those interested in applying and joining a fast growing and undisputedly the coolest company in the Midwest will be announced soon.

So welcome home Evansville, my prodigal son.  I welcome you with open arms and no judgement for where you have been while you were away.  We look only to the future and I see great things for all of us.

eBash Mailbag – Internship / Job Shadowing?

Another email this week from someone prompted me to spend some time with a more formal reply and a post here to my blog for future seekers.

****** Original Email *******

This is *******  and I wanted to inquire about an idea that my mother actually recommended. As you know I have always had a passion for gaming and have been around the gaming environment for a large majority of my life. I am currently studying computer science at Indiana State University. I really want to know what it takes to turn the dream of your company ebash into a living, working facility. What kind of knowledge base is good to have for this type of entrepreneurship? What does it take to get the business started? How can one keep the business afloat during hard times? What are some prime locations for this type of business? I really do enjoy computer science, but am completely willing to change majors in order to make this dream a reality. What kind of coursework should I look into? I was thinking something like information technology with business administration or management. I am able to accomplish endless possibilities right now at Indiana State because of all the benefits I have received and effort I have put in. The main question I have is are you able and willing to shape me into a formidable future asset of the company? I would really appreciate your feedback on this. Thank you for your time.

****************************

Lots of great questions.  You are on the right track researching and learning now while you finish school.  I can tell you that many, many things in business, just like life, come with time and experience.  Especially in our industry, things change faster than you can learn about how they are handled currently, so the ability to adapt and survive is something that is more crucial than any other skill you might need.
Currently we are extremely busy with building our new store location in Indianapolis and then heading into our busiest time of the year through the holidays.  I don’t want to disappoint you, but there is quite the long list of people who approach me to learn about the business and want help starting their own center.  Instead of trying to decide who to help, it is just easiest if I let everyone know that my focus is on my employees and those who are going to be with me inside of our company for years to come.
We don’t hold interviews or have people fill out applications.  Our business is grown from within.  We take our longest and most trusted customers and move them into volunteer positions at the stores.  Then we take the top volunteers and move them into part time employee roles.  The best of the part time employees then move into specific areas such as event planning or store management.
So if you are interested in knowing more, the best way is to just hang out at the stores and play.  Even being around our staff on a regular basis you can can gain knowledge and insight into the industry from a customer standpoint.  More than any other business in the world, we value our regular and consistent customers for the relationships more than the revenue.

Starting up a Video Game LAN Center Email Bag

I try to almost always answer emails from people inquiring about staring their own Video Game LAN Center.  Sometimes I am tired and busy and I just send a short answer.  Sometimes I spend way too much time.  I thought it might help to start copying down some of the questions/emails I get here on my blog along with my answers so that it might cut down on repetitive questions and allow me to start referring people here for more basic answers.  I will leave the names off for privacy reasons.

**********************

10/23/2013

Hi Zack,

I have been planning to start up  a lan center and while browsing the web I saw your wordpress page and I would like to get some tips as I am starting from scratch and I’m lost. I have no experience at all start a business and I would like to ask you a couple of questions that could really help me. I know you are really busy and I`ll try to keep it short.

Question:
-Did you start it by yourself or by a group?
-Did you get professional help for a business plan?
-How did you get the capital for this business?

Feel free to ask me any questions.

I look forward to hear from you .

Thank you

Regards,
__________

********************************************

My single best advice to you is to find a partner who knows business and especially starting a small business.  Not necessarily a game center, but just someone who can help handle the business side.
The best chance of running a successful game center has to do with a person’s knowledge of running a small business and has nothing to do with a knowledge of gaming.
To answer your questions specifically:
I started the center in 2004 by myself after running LAN events at our church for a few months.
I had already started 3 other businesses before I started eBash.  A software company, an ISP and a sporting equipment online retail store.
I started the store mainly by leasing the equipment through a small business leasing center.  In 2004 that was very easy to do.  Today that is almost impossible and most small equipment leasing companies are gone.
Zack

Grand Theft Auto V in my Video Game LAN Center?

gta5I have always held a strong line to NOT carry the Grand Theft Auto series of games in our stores (along with a few other over-the-top titles). Our eBash partner store of which I do not have any ownership carries the games. This newest game would be a HUGE boost to our sales during the next few months and beyond and help us through our slower months. I don’t want to compromise my morals, but how do I skip a game that could mean so much potential income for my stores? I am thinking of perhaps requiring every single parent to physically come into the store and have us read to them the warning label on the game right at the front counter to their face. Something like this:

Me: “Hello mommy of Billy Gamer, are you wanting to allow him to play the newest Grand Theft Auto V game?”
Mommy: “Yes, that is fine. He plays games like that at home.”
Me: “Alright, I just need you to be aware that this game contains ALL of these items: Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Nudity, Mature Humor, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and the Use of Drugs and Alcohol. You are fine with your 9 year old son being exposed to all of those things?”

Man, even typing that up I just get a bad feeling in my stomach. I know that all of these parents will say yes. Maybe I should require that they sit down and play the game with their kid for a minimum of one hour before they are allowed to give them permission to play the game?  Maybe seeing prostitution in action on the screen will make more of an impact than hearing the words “Nudity and Strong Sexual Content”?

I sometimes get the feeling that parents honestly think that the warning label on games (and maybe movies) are just *potential* things that could be in the game.  Almost like it is a general guideline for all M (Mature) rated games that *could* contain those things listed on the label.  At least that is what I hope is true.

However the items printed on that label are ACTUALLY found within that exact game.  So when GTAV says that it has Nudity and Strong Sexual Content the game itself has those items as something your child will experience while playing.

Maybe I just hope that is the case so that I can give parents a false excuse for not caring what their child puts into their brain.  I feel better thinking that parents are dumb and naive and not just doing a lazy and terrible job of raising their children.  I want to believe that parents are just too busy to take the time to monitor what their kid is playing, instead of probably the true reason they let them play these games.

Parents are selfish.

I know this is true because I am a parent and I am also selfish.  I want my time to myself.  We have 3 kids at home and right now my wife and I do not get any time to do what WE want to do.  At home and when parents drop their kids at my video game center these “guardians” are just looking for a break from being a parent.

I understand the feeling and I am not saying that having your kids play video games so that you can get a break is wrong.   It is not even wrong to have them play for a few hours in my opinion.  However it is not right to allow them to be exposed to such things that are in some of these games just so you can have some “me” time.

So, should I carry this newest game in our stores and just put a heavy burden on the parents to be the ones that decide if their child is exposed to the filth found inside?  Will that leave me a clear conscience?  I doubt it.

Achievement Fest 2013 & Guinness World Record Attempts for Xbox Gamerscore

IMG_4892

These 21 gamers gathered in Terre Haute, IN last weekend to set two Guinness World Records.

Last weekend wrapped up the second annual Achievement Fest here in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Most people probably have no idea where Terre Haute is located and Achievement Fest is still just a new idea I had a few years ago.   However I am amazed again this year at how well the event came together through the help of the gaming community over at www.360voice.com.

We had players from 14 different states and one from Canada arrive between Thursday and Friday last weekend.  An entire section of the eBash Terre Haute store was dedicated to these gamers and their passion for obtaining achievements on the Xbox 360.  For the city of Terre Haute we sold almost 100 room nights at local hotels and they ate our local restaurants all weekend.  I treated them all to 12 dozen Square Donuts on Saturday morning to help kick off the record attempt in Terre Haute style!

Gathering in the hallway near the Square Donuts table!

Gathering in the hallway near the Square Donuts table!

For those new to achievements in general, let me give a quick breakdown of the beauty of Xbox 360 gamerscore.  Every single Xbox 360 game made contains available points to unlock by performing feats in the game itself.  Some are very simple like pressing the start button for the first time and some are more difficult such as playing over 1000 games online.  How the points are distributed are up to the game developer, but Microsoft has rules that they all have to follow and the biggest are:

– Each retail (sold on a disc or anything considered a FULL game) game must contain 1000 gamerscore points to start.  No more or no less.  An Xbox LIVE Arcade game previously started with 200 gamerscore points but more recently was bumped up to 400 gamerscore points.

– The achievements cannot force the user to buy anything additional for the achievement itself.  This is sometimes a gray area with publishers adding additional points to a game with DLC (down load content) but for the most part all achievements can be obtained within the game once you buy the game itself.

When playing through a game the achievement is “unlocked” by completing the predetermined task (which is the same for every person who plays the same game).  At that time a little sound is made on the screen and a long oblong gray bar appears on the screen saying “Achievement Unlocked” with a brief name of the particular achievement.

The collection of these achievements has gone way beyond an obsession for many people.  I can remember when the Xbox 360 was released I tried to get 10,000 gamerscore from achievements on the Xbox 360 before a friend of mine at eBash leveled a character in World of Warcraft from 1 to 40.  The winner got a steak dinner.  I think I might have gotten 6000 points but he easily beat me and back then leveling in WoW took a VERY long time.

Now however there are websites dedicated to obtaining these achievements and competitions between individuals and teams to see who can obtain the most points.  If you want more information here are a few sites that I use on a regular basis:

www.360voice.com
www.trueachievements.com
www.x360a.org

Enough of the background, let’s cut to the chase.  A gamer that plays a ton of games but one that doesn’t try to get all of the achievements in the games might sit around 10,000 or 20,000 gamerscore.  Remember a single retail game has only 1000 available points total, so that would be 10-20 games completed to 100% of the objectives.

The group of players that attended Achievement Fest this past weekend are each in the hundreds of thousands on their gamerscore.  Personally I am sitting at 266,282 gamerscore.  Many of these players in the top 3 of their states here in the US if not the number one player already.

We decided two years ago to hold an event where we could all meet in person.  Last year on the same weekend in July we had 29 gamers from 17 states and Canada descend on little Terre Haute, IN and not only game all weekend but put up an attempt at two world records through Guinness.

During the Guinness attempt, dotting every "t" and crossing every "i".

During the Guinness attempt, dotting every “t” and crossing every “i”.

However last year we had a Guinness representative assigned to our attempts that told us things that later we found out (when they quit and we were assigned a new representative AFTER our attempt) were not allowed by Guinness.  So fast forward to this year and we had two guys, John Merson (fafhrdd) and Michael Oliver (futiles), who sat out of the competition so they could be officially non-partial witnesses and officiate the attempt.  John especially went overboard for weeks beforehand getting everything set-up with Guinness and his work continues these next few weeks as he submits the evidence for approval.

Thomas Ash (Mr pTart) again attempted the individual record for most gamerscore in 24 hours (which he broke last year but it didn’t count) and again surpassed the previous record of 13,290 (*source*) this time by putting up 14,419 points.  He even took a 1 hour nap during the attempt once he knew he had it in the bag!

The rest of us are creating a new record for the  most gamerscore in 24 hours by a group.  The only caveat was that we needed to surpass the amount of the individual record (it should be easier for a group of people to do something instead of a single player) and once the group hit 16,661 we decided to stop for various nerdy reasons.

Here are links to the Xbox LIVE pages for the two record setting gamertags:

AchieveFest2013 Group Gamertag
Mr pTart Individual Gamertag

Here is a video of the news coverage we recently had of the Guinness record attempt:

Off the Beaten Path: Gaming Gurus

As a special thank you, here is a list of the attendees and a little something about each of them from my own perspective in their seating order for AF this year:

fshguy (Florida) – Thanks for all of the work at 360voice you do.  AF would not be the same if we couldn’t look into the Kinect room and see you playing a kids dancing game with your tongue out like Jordan.
Tandar1 (Indiana) – Fellow Hoosier, somehow providing material for many jokes at your expense and never getting mad.  Don’t worry about the chair, we have plenty.
Elem3ntal80 (Wisconsin) – Missed our Sunday talk this year, but super thanks for organizing and making sure badges were made and also for picking up Hitchman on your way down.  Someday there will be an eBash in Wisconsin.  Someday we will be able to mountain bike together.
pTartTx (Michigan) – Thanks for helping our EEO quota for females.  You are a great part of our online community and an even better part of our real-life community.  Plus you bring with you…..
Mr pTart (Michigan) – Grats on your second record this year!  Hopefully it will count this time.  Maybe next year you won’t sit behind us and act like you know how to play a game that you hadn’t really played before.
THE DREN (Texas) – Where to start.  Thanks for….. being…. “the dren”.  Great interview on TV this year and thank your wife for letting you travel on your anniversary!
griffey95 (Florida) – Dude, you are like a game encyclopedia.  I think you remember everything about every game you have played or even just read about.  Thanks for playing Heavy Spear with me.
streakleader (South Carolina) – Thorton’s sent me a $100 gift card in your name.  They said something about you set a Guinness record for most ounces of soda consumed in 3 days.  Always happy you could leave the courtroom for a few days to visit again this year.
SG Steelhead (Pennsylvania) – Sorry about the sugar glider!  I had fun playing that terrible game, Shattered Rain, with you.  Glad you weren’t in the hospital this year!
nescaughtfire33 (Wyoming) – Hmmm… where to start with you?  Hopefully you made it home?  You were the devil on the shoulder of AF this year and you gave us MANY stories to share in future years.  So glad you guys found us and you both need to add us on LIVE!
MissFourtune (Wyoming)- Dustin says HI!  Glad you came with the “devil” above to help keep her out of too much trouble.  Hopefully you managed to get her on the plane, we haven’t heard anything on the news otherwise so we are assuming you made it.
fafhrdd (Maryland) – John you were a trooper this year bulldogging the Guinness information and you are still going strong to get everything approved.  I forgive you for wearing a sticker with my face on it all weekend!  Also thanks for playing Shattered Storm with me this year.
Hitchman1 (Illinois) – Thanks for bringing your JP console to add to the event.  Also thanks for cleaning out your wallet the first night and giving us some interesting stories for the next 3 days of AF.
JB330 (Indiana) – My Hoosier teammate in so many competitions.  I am not sure why you don’t like me, but maybe you can hang out with me more in our new Castleton store?  Thanks for playing Heavy Spatula with me.
futiles (Kansas) – Thanks for taking over updating the website (hopefully you will continue!) and helping John with the Guinness attempt.  Next year we are getting you on the books!  Your actual presence is so much bigger than your mass and thank you for that boost to the energy at AF.
LibrarianBeth (Kansas) – Thanks for helping keep everyone going with the items that 18 other males don’t think about.  We all will continue to pray for you putting up with futiles another year before we see you again.
Buckswana (Ontario) – Thanks for bringing the entire cool factor up a notch each year.  Sorry we didn’t get your news reporter back again.
HotdogMcGee (Nevada) – Thanks for the constant tomfoolery running rampant at AF each year.  Also thanks for taking care of making sure the Real Buffet Challenge Part 2 took place.  Next year I promise not to pick you up from the airport in a van full of fish in coolers.
CKinAL (Alabama) – Glad you didn’t have to drive through the night alone this year. 🙂  There are not many cool girls hanging with this group of dudes, but we are lucky that you are one of them.
dacoto (Alabama) – Thanks for again bringing swag to give away even though it was a weird year with how busy I have been.  Next year we are turning you loose and there will be epic prizes to be had by all.  Also thanks for admitting you were framing Tandar all along.

Also a special thanks to the Terre Haute Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (David, Amy and Jeanne) and the staff at eBash who helped set-up for AF and then also helped put everything back together again (Dustin, Eric, Fred, , Lloyd, Mark, Romie).