After months of anticipation my kid brothers’ dreams finally came true on July 17, as the three of us walked into the Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco/Hotel for the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention.
Mikhail and Luka had a pocket full of cash each for the dealer room, a 24-hour arcade with dozens of old-school games including Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2, and of course their older brother — me — playing chaperone.
That meant I’d have forgo the wild con-parties, non-casual drinking and nerd-based debauchery of every flavor. Barely a minute into our three-day quest, and I was already “chaper-groaning.”
But just as I was preparing myself for the worst, my youngest brother told me his plan for the weekend. He wanted to get as many of his favorite YouTube personalities as he could to sign his copy of the 1987 Nintendo Entertainment System game Rad Racer, thereby creating the raddest copy of Rad Racer known to man.
Within the first 10 minutes of arriving we spotted our first two minor celebrities, SpaceHamster and Jirard "Dragonrider" Khalil. We quickly procured their John Hancocks and headed into the main hall.
Described as a 72-hour gaming slumber party, the irregularly scheduled con is thrown by Flower Mound-based production company ScrewAttack. They produce YouTube videos, video games and live events like SGC, all geared toward the greater gaming community. More than 5000 gamers were in attendance for the opening ceremony.
And despite the commotion and excitement, the con began in silence — a tribute to the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who passed away July 11.
Soon after, ScrewAttack “Director of Awesome” and US Air Force Sergeant Angel Rodriguez transmuted the somber silence into screams of inspirational giddiness.
“No matter where you are, who you are, where you’re from, you are never alone,” Rodriguez said with the cadence and looks of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The frenzy whipped up by SGC’s sermon-like opening ceremony was so great that the hall was left practically barren by the time the Q and A started. No one had questions, they all knew what they were here for.
For me and my brothers, it was the raddest video game ever. Arguably the biggest guests at the con were the English voice cast of uber popular anime series Dragonball Z, the perfect group to sign our copy of Rad Racer.
I concocted the plan of attack while my brothers dug through dusty boxes of vintage video games. As we searched for hidden gems at reasonable prices, North Texas locals Jay Hunter and Billy Chaser dug alongside us. Most people wouldn’t know these two, but Luka recognized them instantly from their YouTube show The Game Chasers, adding two more signatures to our prize.
We skipped the Dragonball panel and headed straight to the signing room, only to find that an unofficial crowd had already formed. Not one to stand on ceremony, Luka immediately sat down in front of the door to the signing room, usurping the role of first in line from some guy in a red shirt.
We were in perfect position, and an hour and a half early. But things turned dark pretty quickly from here.
Hundreds of freaks and geeks joined the crowd by the minute, waiting for their chance to meet the guys and gals who voice their favorite cartoon. Soon hotel staff and con volunteers demanded we disband. They threatened to take away our badges, and suddenly I was alone in a sea of unsanctioned fanboys.
When I caught up to my brothers, I demanded an explanation for their mutiny. “They were going to take our badges,” Mikhail said. “Plus the cast of Dragonball Z aren’t really video game people.”
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That's when I realized this weekend wasn’t about autographs, it was about my brothers’ love for all things pixelated and interactive. There were video games to play, and that seemed far more important than waiting in line.
All-in-all, Luka got his copy of Rad Racer signed by 10 YouTube personalities and Jon St. John, the voice of the iconic stripper-saving-badass Duke Nukem.
We gushed over what is indeed the raddest copy of the 28-year-old racing game while Mikhail destroyed a table of 20-somethings with his prized YuGiOh deck.
Not everyone who signed my brother’s game understood his goal, but the ones who did loved the idea. I suppose when thousands of people show up to a hotel in Frisco to celebrate people who earn a living by playing video games and making funny voices, you either get it, or you don’t.