Traveling to the Gathering and back: A nerd’s tale
It's day two at the Gathering 2012, I've awoken from my slumber on the concrete flooring only shielded by a thin blow-up cover and my sleeping bag. One of my earplugs had fallen out while I was sleeping, but it apparently hadn't woken me up. The music is still thundering throughout the great Vikingship, however at 10am it's a bit subdued. Yawning and stretching, I crawl out of my warm sleeping bag and sit down on one of the green fold-up seats located in the bleachers (where I was sleeping on the concrete). I take a couple of minutes and I stare out into wonderful mish-mash of rows upon rows of computers, habituated by sleeping nerds and their intricately crafted shelves. It is a unique festival.
Summarizing the event in any way is one tough cookie for me, but I would say that most mainstream media fail to properly communicate the gist of the event. Usually the focus is on portraying the mindless gamer masses, glued to the screens playing games until they finally pass out. If that's what you're looking for, you will find it. There were aerobic classes in the morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in which many participated. But did anyone consider the abundance of lectures and educational stands that were at the event ?
In fact, as the founder of the Gathering expressed the main goal of the Gathering is to shift the frame of thinking of the participants from merely being consumers of digital media to be empowered creators of that media. Personally I think it's a clever ploy to sneak education into people who usually just game with their computers. A case in point was when I was watching the Hardcore programming competition unfold on stage, in a very entertaining live event. A lot of people were gathered around cheering for the different bots, which in turn attracted other people. While rooting for one of the programs I was interrupted by a teenager asking me what was going on, I explained how it was pre-programmed bots duking it out in a real-time bumper car match, to which he replied “cool!”
I also participated in a compo, namely the Fast Intro competition (receive a theme and make an intro in eight hours). In which I teamed up with a belarusian and a swede to produce a humble intro built to run on a Gameboy advance, this is even given due notice when the presenters introduce the fast intro compo. In the end, our entry came in sixth place. :) Next year, we'll do better (and not spend two hours out of the eight hours setting up the programming environment).
On Saturday the last night of the event, Philter made a beautiful show. Around the stage is a lot of exhausted nerds caught in what I would call a glorious moment of reflection on all the experiences they've received during the event. :)
Edit: The gathering used to link to have their videos up on Vimeo.com. Originally, this post contained some footage of the actual competition I participated in. But the Gathering seem to have shifted their focus to be less about competiting and more about creating. Which is actually quite fine. :)