There are certain things a person does in their life that they can proudly point to and say, “There, that was me. I did that thing and that thing was glorious!” Then they proceed to hog the conversation for an hour telling you about how that thing started and how it all went down.Awesomefest poster

I’m skipping steps here today, as Tyler Johnson’s Ultimate Iron Man of Gaming Decathlon+Awesomefest™ isn’t quite in the annals of Spectacular Video Game Greatness (yet), but you’re getting the very humblest of humble origin story anyways. Well, it’s not the ORIGIN story, as we’re a year past that, but it’s close enough. I want to give you a taste of the flavor and convey some of the excitement had during these occasions.

Awesomefest, as we will now be calling it, was an idea I had a few years back. I love throwing parties for my friends but I wanted to bring an element of gaming competition to them. The problem was trying to figure out what game to compete in, how to get many different people playing it, and how to make sure the playing field was level.

It didn’t take me very long to figure out that the best way to go about doing this would be to have MANY different games. So, because decathlons are just more epic than biathlons or triathlons, I settled on creating ten events. Choosing ten games from a variety of different genres would test a wide variety of skills. A smattering of gaming delights that would weed out the weak and prove who possesses the greatest amount of electronic athleticism.

The first time I hosted Awesomefest, I ended up embarrassing all of the competitors. Turns out, that not only am I better than all of my friends at video games, but in the process of play testing the games and events, I lost sight of what “difficult” really was. I’m pretty sure people wept into boxes of tissues in the bathroom when nobody was around.

MC Tyler "Silky" Johnson addresses a modest-sized basement full of drunk nerds. With a microphone.

MC Tyler “Silky” Johnson addresses a modest-sized basement full of drunk nerds. With a microphone.

So, I made this year easier… kind of. OK, it wasn’t really THAT much easier, but points were awarded for hitting certain milestones, instead of just completing the task I had assigned. Things like getting to a boss would give points this year, even if you didn’t beat it. Last year was all or nothing but this year was more balanced.

Just because you have the most points doesn’t mean you’re going to win. Also, having the least amount of points doesn’t mean you’re going to lose. The top two face each others in a winner’s final for glory, pride, and a cheaply made trophy. The bottom two, in what actually might be more entertaining, fight to stave off shame, humiliation, and the awful “prize” I throw at your face as you’re being booed out of the house.

Okay, there is no booing, but there is in my mind and it’s hilarious! Ha ha, you got drunk and lost!

Yes, this is a debaucherous nerd bacchanalia of games, booze, and delicious food, all orchestrated and prepared by me.

Yeah, I make the food! Don’t sound surprised. I’m quite a good cook. I do it all of the time. Don’t judge me!

The Bruce Wayne portion of my life (that means my real job. You guys get me as Batman) allows me to borrow a near limitless amount of stuff for the event. I’m able to turn a basement into a weird euro-styled arcade with quaint furnishings and deadly farm tools adorning the walls. A room full of slim monitors, bright projectors, and pulsing speakers.

It’s a weekend full of a lot of work too and there was a lot of time spent preparing the events earlier in the year. I also spend a lot of money, but, for me, it’s all worth it. I enjoy having fun with my friends and I enjoy pitting them against each other.

Of course, what may be the most fun part of the entire thing, is that all of the events are kept secret. No one knows what they’re going to be up against until they show up. They can’t prepare and they can’t practice. Maybe they have some prior experience and maybe they don’t. Adapt and survive, friends.

It’s a night of watered-down Darwinism. Will someone overstuff their gullet with too many bacon wrapped hot dogs? Will someone underestimate my Fire Burgers and give themselves a spicy handicap? Will someone imbibe too much alcohol and throw away reason for the off chance they MAY play better drunk? No one knows but Awesomefest’s special brand of natural selection will work out the details.

To satiate the curiosity you no doubt have, I’ll run through some of the events we had at this year’s competition.

The biggest mistake I made this year was including “Super Hexagon”. It’s a lovely game, as you’ll know if you read my review, but it was too difficult for people to come to grips with in a short period of time. When you’ve gotten to the point where you can beat the hardest stage, you forget just HOW hard starting out can be. I had to give pity points out for this event to make sure no one fell too far behind the one person that had experience.

I didn’t even give pity points for “Spelunker” last year, and NO ONE scored anything on that game. “Spelunker” was hilarious, though.

“Dashin’ Desperadoes”, for the Genesis, was the sleeper hit of the event. It’s a little known competitive platformer that is a lot of fun.

Ah, good old 'Dashin' Desperados'! Many newfound friendships were destroyed because of it that night...

Ah, good old ‘Dashin’ Desperados’! Many newfound friendships were destroyed because of it that night…

I like to include a fighting game but it’s difficult to choose ones that are accessible. The decision was easy this year because “Divekick” was just released. All the mind games and depth of a fighting game without the complex mechanics. Perfect for this style of competition.

To fill out the quirky quota, I had “ We ❤ Katamari”. Oddballs like this help to lighten the competitive mood and keep people on their toes with very unique gameplay mechanics.

NES classics, “Castlevania 3”, “Life Force”, and “Mega Man 2” made appearances. The best taxi cab simulator of all-time was present, “Crazy Taxi”. I also had “Marble Madness”, which everyone cooed about nostalgically until they actually played it, then cursed about how difficult it was.

Then, the game that was played during last year’s final, “Windjammers”, was a standard event. Hell, I might keep this in the competition every year. I mean, it is one of the best competitive games of all time and it’s stupid easy to pick up in a matter of minutes.

For the loser’s final, which our own Brian was a part of, I wanted to choose something incredibly random that no one would expect and no one had played. That game was “Quiz & Dragons”.

If you’ve never heard of the game, I’m not surprised. While quiz games are fairly common in Japanese arcades, we didn’t see many in ours. “Quiz & Dragons” is a quiz game made by Capcom that features a fantasy setting. Players compete against each other in a medieval fantasy battle of trivia.

Brian, congrats on your ability to beat the drunk guy and force that copy of “PBR: Out of the Chute” on him. I heard he got sick later, but not from the alcohol. It was from the fact that he now owned that game.

Now, the winner’s final this year was a decision that could only be described as epic. Is epic fair? Perhaps, but it was “Nintendo World Championships”.

That’s right, what was once something that was used for a NATIONAL competition was only a part of Awesomefest. That’s how intense this is. I don’t mess around.

When the dust settled from all of the excitement, a winner was crowned. Congrats, Nick. You now have that trophy to cherish forever.

Fabulous prizes! Beer wasn't a prize, more like a participation ribbon.

Fabulous prizes! Beer wasn’t a prize, more like a participation ribbon.

Our own web-ninja, Kevin, did pretty well. He won himself a  Star Trek Pez set. You enjoy those little sugar pellets thrust from the neck of Jean-Luc Picard.

Everyone got a sweet poster, designed by almost-loser Brian, a belly full of protein and tasty treats, and everyone got an amazing evening.

I hope to continue doing this for as long as people are willing to come out and participate. Maybe someday you will be able to say you played in Awesomefest? Maybe, just maybe…