I have been spending a lot of time setting up the website and various social media for Gonzo Gamers and have not had a lot of time to do any performances. I feel like I have just been talking to people about the idea behind the moment and I was itching to get out and do some field work.
For my first experiment, I wanted to try out a performance that my partner, Alex Dahm, came up with. Her idea for this performance was to go out and play games as the announcer of the game, like a sports commentator. The performer would then just follow players around as this character and announce over the voice chat everything that is happening. They might interview players, make up stories about rivalries and previous seasons, or just keep everyone updated on how the game was going. Helvetica came up with this idea after remembering how she used to play games with her younger sister growing up. In order to convince her younger sister to sit and watch her play video games for hours, she told her sister that her role was to announce what was happening in the game. After remembering how much fun she had playing this game when she was young, Helvetica thought other gamers would enjoy it now. I could not help but test it out.
At first it was hard to find the right server. I kept running into a lot of servers where either no one responded, did not speak English, or though I was strange. After a few failures, I found a group of people who started to warm up to the idea of me following them around commentating on what they were doing. Players began interacting with me. We discussed current game meta mechanics and theory. I even interview players and asked them to comment on why they are choosing different characters or strategies.
As new players joined the server, they were confused at first. Maybe even put off by what I was doing. However as soon as they saw everyone participating it became normal for them. I almost felt a sense of popularity on the server as players talked to me and tried to get me to comment on their play.
I feel like my experience was similar to JustJorge’s when he played through War of the Roses as a bard. The team that I was commentating on almost always won the match. I am not sure if it was because I was helping give them a wider view of the game or just making them relax more, but it was working incredibly well. Players wanted to be on my team. Some even went as far as change teams to be on mine.
On player, Levitika, added me as a friend after a few matched. He was really enjoying himself. He told me that “Anyone who can do absolutely nothing and still contribute to the game, is alright in my book. I mean this in the best possible way.” Levitika became kind of my Gonzo wing man. He made sure what I was doing was accepted by the other players. After we were done playing, we made plans to meetup another time and have me announce some more.
My new found friend is, to me, what Gonzo Gamers is all about. I joined a server full of strangers who just wanted to shoot at me and had this great experience that ended up making me some real connections with other players.