So, if you, dear reader, have not yet figured it out by now, I’ll just come clean and lay it bare for all to see:
I’m a nerd.
Yes, it may come as a bit of a shock, but don’t worry - I’m currently taking medication. I hope to be back to normal in the near future.
Actually, if I’m completely honest, I’m probably one of the most disappointing nerds to walk this planet. Sure, I know how to noodle around with a keyboard and have just enough know-how to get in trouble with Linux on a regular basis, but when it comes to Nerd Culture, like comic-book heros and video games, I’m utterly and truly in the dark. “How far in the dark?”, I hear you ask. Well… very. Let’s just say that Pokémon wasn’t an integral part of my childhood and leave it at that.
However, this last week I was able to truly get out and stretch my nerd muscles - and boy, was it fun. You see, there is this little known game called Defense of the Ancients (otherwise known as DOTA) that a few individuals in the UROP program play on a regular basis. Now, despite my earlier stated ignorance, I actually had previously heard of such games as DOTA and LoL, but had never really paid them much attention, let alone had played them. The very style of gaming, MOBA, was completely unknown to me, with my only previous gaming experience being (you guessed it) Legend of Zelda. But after hearing that a major competition would be happening in the area (Frankfurt) and that tickets were only 40€ for both days, I really couldn’t say no. Before I knew what was happening, my money had jumped right out of my pocket and reservations for lodging were being placed.
We took a night bus down Friday night and stayed at a nice little hostel near the bus station. The first day was a whirlwind of motion as I tried to learn as much as I could on the fly. At first it was hard to tell exactly what was going on in the matches, but by end of the third match I could cheer at the appropriate times, and by the end of the day, I was already cheering for my new favorite team to win (Go NAVI!).
The competition itself was almost addicting to watch, but there were many other distractions to busy one’s self during the 20 minute intermissions. There was real-life archery (we had multiple competitions throughout the two days), air-brush tattoos (yes, we tatted-up!), on site DOTA competitions, a mechanical bull, and even sparing. Of course we splurged on the typical geek-ware (a shirt for each accompanied by many plushies) and browsed through a couple of gaming stands, but the true attraction (for me) was none other than the HTC Vive itself! Thats right folks, a Vive out in the wilderness, just waiting to be tested. Even though I’d had my Vive back in the office for the past couple of weeks, I still hadn’t seen it in action, cause Linux and all.
We signed up for a demo session and were not at all disappointed! The Vive was amazing! I had always been of the opinion that the whole VR fad was just a phase and would be passed by in no time. But after using the Vive, I’m fully convinced that this is the way of the future! It feels so natural, with the highly accurate motion tracking, that you almost forget that you’re wearing it. That, combined with the two hand-held controls to interact with the world around you makes for a truly immersive experience. The Lab’s Archery game was awesome, but I think my favorite was Tilt Brush - a 3D painting app. I can’t wait to get my Vive up and running - I think I’ll install Windows on a separate partition just for the sake of having a fully-functional VR system to noodle around with! :D
All in all, the trip was a great success, allowing me to see a whole new culture, along with getting to see the Vive at it’s best.