Stockholm, 0:30AM, Iím lying in my bed. The headache is getting better, yet Iím unable to get asleep. The room is dark, the only lights coming from the laptop Iím typing on, and Noctisí laptop where he watches a movie. We are at the very nice apartment of Tybalt, friend and co-manager of the Reason Team. This is where they boot-camped before the event, as proven by the left-over pizza boxes and empty cans that welcomed us when we arrived. I cannot stop my mind from shuffling a mass of memories, emotions, faces and sounds. But, since this happened before, I know what to do: canalize everything into a unique stream - a goal, a solution, a key to get some sleep, finally.
For those who havenít been in Sweden at this time of the year, the sun goes down around 10 PM, just to get up again around 2:30 AM. There is a brief moment where the sky seems dark, but if you look to the North, you will see that, in fact, the light is there, just below the horizon. An intense blue aura that can Ė if you donít look away Ė fill your eyes with the breath of the summer, the will to stay up, the joy of being alive.
The Dreamhack is sleepless; the sleep hacked into a daydream. Thousands of gamers, many of which teenagers, wander in groups, haircuts and clothes appropriate to todayís costumes. Halls, the size of hangars, populated with flashing monitors, electronic music, the silhouettes of thousands living their own shared realities, focusing, laughing, screaming joy to a world that is outside and inside at the same time. A mixture of languages and expressions, for which the true common denominator is a simple one: Gaming.
Gaming is beautiful. Gaming is a passion. Passions work best when shared. So, a question arises. Possibly, ďtheĒ question, at least today, in this reality 2.0. Have you spoiled us, almighty internet? Have you tricked us, making us forget completely the experience of physical presence? Has your fabulous jewelry turn into golden chains, chains that we proudly wear even when they become heavier than our fat bottoms? And do these chains speak for us? Sometimes one thinks he can hear them. Dead you are Quake, as sentenced by the fear of many. Dead you are, after every tournament, every year, every day from the golden era until today. Every tournament is the last one, and there is no point in beating a dead horse. So sad, so bitter, but above all, so stupid of us to be blind to the truth.
Truth? Which truth?
These last three days the truth were thousands of gamers showing that no matter how comfortable their home setups may be, meeting for real ďis the shitĒ. These last three days the truth was a combo of duel and TDM tournaments, with the best players in the world showing Quake at its best. These last three days the truth was the definite passion we all share, the joy of playing Quake and being together.
The internet is the nemesis of faith. Online, having faith is too silly and weak; the perfect juicy quarry for swarms of hunting trolls, skeptics, and all sorts of disciples of sorrow and regret. They are strong in their habits, so cool when they rule the web with their sarcasm. But then, if you read beyond the text, reaching the glaring screens inside their silent rooms, you can feel a cloud of muted sadness, carefully masked by a fragile display of pretended indifference. Are you alone dear troll? Have you forgotten the excitement of being together with your genuine kind?
Today I saw Foxís son, a little creature, two priceless sapphires open to a world they just started to see. Iíve seen a busy 2GD, organizing the last steps of the trip of all those who he managed to bring to the event. He would drive people back and forth, covering for hotel and trip. Mad props to him. Iíve seen the light of excitement shining on Tonyís face at the idea of conquering Quakecon with an FFA tournament. I don't know if it will work, but it would be awesome. Iíve seen a smiling Cooller, finally having the chance to talk with him, seeing the nice guy he is, his latest quote being "...because I'm Cooller" as reply to why the FFA should be postponed to 3PM. Iíve seen a crazy man. Most appropriate nick ever, Dr. Czm, I'm very happy you are coming to Europe. Iíve seen quakers hanging out as friends, and a band of desperados led by Clock go to a gas station to get the last booze after dawn, just to come back with only four empty cans and no beer for those who waited. I heard many stories about the past, and lived moments that will be stories at the next events. And yet, behind every single thing I have seen, there was the same undeniable truth that our community is simply amazing, our game fantastic, and these truly are good times for anyone willing to step out of his or her basement, forget about the fear for the future, and enjoy what is there, now, from us, for us all.
Thank you everybody for being awesome.