dinsdag 7 december 2010
WZZRD of Enschede
What happens when a group of students of computer-games are set loose in a gamecafé called WZZRD? Do they magically turn into the characters they play; ferocious zombie killers or cartoony reflections of themselves? Is there a moment of collective hyperfocus? Or will everyone turn into a selfish, aggressive being, whom when home will stand on a scale and notice a pound or two has been gained by an afternoon of guilty gaming pleasure.
I do believe I have seen some figures that, from their exaggerated movements, resembled cartoons, and I even met a zombie killer here and there. I did see some students experiencing what seemed to be hyperfocus, eyes flashing, while on a killing streak. But all I can really elaborate on are my own experiences from this cold winter day in a forlorn corner of Enschede. There, in the midst of office buildings, a carting track and some sad looking kiddie play centre, one can find the WZZRD. The café is situated in a movie theatre complex and while making your way towards the WZZRD, one is taken on a trip down memory lane, past pinball machines and arcade games.
The WZZRD does have all attributes that you would think a café for gaming should have. There is a bar in the middle of the space, which is surrounded by little isles of four PC’s each. Besides the PC-isles you can sit yourself down on a couch and play Wii games, Guitar Hero and some other console games. A lot of attention went to the Xbox Kinect gaming spot, where my fellow students were waving there arms up and down or frantically jumping in order to move a virtual raft downstream. The general design of the place was a functional one, colors were dark grey, black or blue and lights were dimmed.
My experiences in Enschede have been tainted by my familiarity with the WZZRD in Utrecht. Since its opening in Utrecht some years back, it has been a hangout for me. Mostly I played Guitar Hero or WoW before clubbing. Though it was a nice enough place, I always thought it fell short of its potential. The atmosphere didn’t invite people to come together and play. Mostly it was a good place for teams to train their shooter skills or for those lost souls that didn’t have the luxury of the internet at home. I had hoped that Enschede, being bigger, would also have been better. More colorful maybe, more inviting for the shy gamer or the self proclaimed non-gamer to come out of the house and visit a world of possibility and new experiences together with others.
Sadly, the WZZRD in Enschede, though offering us students a fun experience, didn’t live up to my expectations. It offered the same functional atmosphere and even the same games as its twin in Utrecht did. My suspicions were confirmed when the “bartender” told me that he mostly hosts children’s parties. He hadn’t served beer in the afternoon for a while and I would have to forgive him if the foamy top wasn’t at its best. Forgive him I did, and the beer tasted fine. But I keep wondering, how can I do this better? What is the success formula of collective play? Most importantly, was Rock Band too much to ask for?