Taking Online Gamers Offline To Meet in Real Life

I’ve been a gamer my entire life. It started with Super Mario Bros, then Dungeons and Dragons through primary school, Magic cards in high school, and Starcraft during college. The best part of a game community is the social interactions with other gamers. Sometimes online, and sometimes in real life.

At the time we wondered if people could take an online community offline for a day — as it turns out, they do.

The event was held in Brooklyn, NY in collaboration with Destructoid.com. They’re an indie community of passionate online gamers, with vibrant personalities and an arsenal of memes. Community is something that Destructoid holds dear. It’s what makes them unique in comparison to other game sites out there. It keeps their threads fresh, funny, and entertaining (sometimes creating a discussion thread that’s more entertaining than the actual post).

We had over 125 button mashers show up to the event! Most of our guests were from New York, but we did have visitors magically appear from as far away as Philadelphia and Boston. And once people started to arrive, it was on like Donkey Kong.

As members of the community know, A DTOID party ain’t no party without Jonathan Holmes & Conrad Zimmerman, the hosts of “Sup Holmes?”. Jaws dropped when they arrived (sadly, this was not caught on camera.)

We invited eight talented, local New York game developers to share their shiny new games for the first time with the public:

Everyone that attended received a special DTOID themed gift bag that included a Destructoid Game Night USB drive (pre-loaded with demos of the games debuted that night), game art, backgrounds, and music from This Week In Chiptunes. We also tossed in some Disqus stickers, Destructoid-green jelly beans, and a bottle opener.

As the day progressed we chowed down on delicious tacos, enjoyed several tasty beers, and play-tested a bunch of brand new local games from the 8 developers we invited. We ended the night with a 30-player Street Fighter 2 tournament, on a 400 inch wall, narrated by a sports announcer. (Which by the way, Jonathan Holmes won after proclaiming he was terrible at the game.)

The winner of the tournament received a custom 3D-printed arcade cabinet (that you can load pictures on), along with a couple Kid Robot Street Fighter 2 figurines and other swag from Gamechops and Zen Monkey Studios.

As the night came to an end everyone was having fun, getting to know one another, smiling, high-fiving, with an occasional thumbs up thrown in. There was definitely a deeper bond created amongst active commenters, and new friends meeting for the first time. It was exciting as a long-time DTOID member to see conversations come to life that I normally would only see online. Community is important no matter where it lives. It builds a loyal audience that keeps people coming back both online and off.

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