Category Archives: Sports&Games

GamesCom

The Heart of Gaming

Muslims have Mecca. Metalheads have Wacken. Gamers have GamesCom. Yes, it was this time of year again. Gamers from all around the world have flooded the exhibition halls of the Koelnmesse in Cologne for the 11th time now. But not only them but also developers, publishers, cosplayers and so many more that hold gaming dear to their hearts. On an area of 218,000 m² – roughly 30 football fields in size – 373,000 nerds have come together. Me being one of them…

Anime, Cosplay1 and Gaming

This year has been my third year in a row to attend GamesCom and seeing how my favourite games publisher, Activsion Blizzard, did not have a stage or booth I decided to go there rather unprepared. I had no list of things I desperately wanted to see. (I’ll admit, I would have sold my soul in a heartbeat to get to play Cyberpunk but alas, the queue was so quickly filled up every day that I decided it wouldn’t be worth the wait.) So my first day pretty much consisted only of strolling through the exhibition area, admiring some of the work developers have put into their stage presence and was blown away by some of the amazing cosplays – albeit a lot of it from League of Legends. The sheer time energy and dedication people must have put into some of these outfits is stunning. So I sat there in front of the ‘Cosplay stage’ until the cosplay dance off started which was hilarious to watch. But in a good way. Major props to everyone who took part in this event and so gladly embarrassed themselves!

Statue of Sylvana. Character in World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment.

But this was only a really small part of what has been shown. There have been entire halls filled just with merchandise for all sorts of games, mangas, comics and even gaming soundtracks. Another hall was dedicated entirely to indie games where smaller studios or sometimes even one-man-projects showcased their games on a single computer. Ironically enough, I got stuck on Nanotale, the successor to Epistory. A game that is entirely about typing words which will then appear in the game world so you can continue onward on your journey. I guess writing is following me even into my video games. But there has been one thing I low-key had been excited for: the advancement on VR. Seeing how Valve released their latest headset just a few weeks ago with some major improvements on tracking, I was curious about its competition. At the GamesCom in 2017, there was an entire hall dedicated to VR, headsets, games and programs to be showcased to the masses. Queues so long you had to sign up a day before for a mere 5 minutes of playtime. Fast forward to 2019 and you would only find a few indie developers or universities that specialize in game development with some neat little VR features. Walking on a plank with a simulated abyss beneath you, for example. Back then I already got into some heated debates with my fellow gaming friends about whether VR is the future of gaming and I always saw it just as a gimmick but nothing more. I’m a bit sad now that I might have been right but who knows. Maybe it’s just the calm before the storm.

But that’s not what most of the people have been there for. Apart from Cyberpunk by CD Projekt Red, the other major titles represented there have been Monster Hunter: Iceborne – the upcoming expansion to Monster Hunter World – as well as Borderlands 3. Impossible for a regular mortal to get into any of these exhibition booths unless you’d want to wait for 10 hours straight.

Statue of the Elder Dragon “Teostra”. Monster in Monster Hunter by Bandai Namco.

eSports

I had some time to kill on my second day to see some presentations by ‘THQ Nordic’ which I mostly watched because they have fantastic stage presence and really showed their games and interacted with the crowd. So in the meantime, I had dropped by a Super Smash² eSports-tournament by Nintendo. Damn, these people are good. For all the uninitiated: eSports is the term given to tournaments and the scene surrounding sporting events that take place entirely on virtual playgrounds. While still being chuckled about by most people, there are reports within the industry that by 2022 eSports will have grown to the size of the NFL in terms of people following it and money spent on the events by sponsors. The comparison is quite apt in my opinion. There are already tournaments like ‘The International‘ that can be compared to something like the Super Bowl. Back in 2011, the first ‘International’ was being held by Valve for the game DotA 2³ with – for that time – an astounding amount of 1 million dollars in price money. This was groundbreaking news for the scene as for the first time ever such an amount of money was thrown at a tournament and from there on it only continued to grow. In 2019, the price money reached a staggering 34 million dollars. And within the fanbase, it already has reached the status of something like the Super Bowl. A lot of viewers and supporters don’t actually play the game anymore themselves but still are excited as ever for that one week every year to cheer for their team. Yes, I’m talking from experience here.

Statue of Solaire, praising the sun. Character from Dark Souls 1 by From Software.

Gaming and politics

As we are already on the note of America here, I want to tackle a more serious topic. Video games are constantly under fire by mass media after killing sprees. Usually criticized by politicians, Donald Trump has been the most infamous recently to do so after the attacks in El Paso in which 22 innocent people have been killed; several more injured. In a response, Trump gave a speech in which he blamed video games as a reason for domestic terrorism.“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this.”, so Trump in his speech 5th August. I am sick of this nonsensical rhetoric that has been proven wrong so many times now and neither will I let a talking orange with a wig destroy part of my gaming culture. In a country where video games are as easily obtained as real weapons of war, you can not go around spouting these idiotic paroles just to defend the biggest lobby in your country. Lobby-ism is all that Trumps politic has been about for the past years and he shows no different face in this matter.

But let me tell you: It’s not the pixel-guns on a screen that kill people. It’s the actual guns sold in American stores that do. So start policing that shit maybe?

Should I give you an example on how ludicrous this has gotten? After the aforementioned shooting that happened in a Walmart, the chain decided to remove “all signs, displays or videos that depict violence in an internal memo.” This decision led to all video games, consoles and movies above a certain age rating to be removed from the stores while happily continuing to sell guns. (Source: https://www.npr.org/)
This whole discussion that is being stirred up by politicians so eagerly has only one purpose: To move attention away from the actual problem. The guns.

Fuck redneck rhetoric! Fuck white supremacy!
All hail to my fellow nerds!

Annotations

1: Cosplay = a showcase of an anime, manga or video game character in costume and behaviour.
2: Super Smash = A popular fighting game by Nintendo with playable characters from many different games. Very popular as a casual party game with a massive professional scene behind it for years now.
3: DotA 2 = short for Defence of the Ancients 2. A videogame by Valve Entertainment that belongs to the genre of Mobas in which you take on the role of a character together with your team and try to defeat the base structure of the enemy team.

Text and pictures by Tobias Lorenz

Summer Games Done Quick

Watch your childhood memories get destroyed

Seeing how our issue this term is nearing its final production steps, there has been a lot of discussion on stereotypes within our team. And what better stereotypes are there than the ones revolving around gaming and gamers? Well, let me destroy the misconception of sweaty and unsocial gamers in the next few minutes as they destroy your favourite games in the meantime!

Gotta go fast!

First of all, you might ask what I’m talking about. The “Games Done Quick“ event takes place twice a year in America and is livestreamed for free on a platform called „twitch.tv“. Gamers from around the world met up this past week in Bloomington, Minnesota, to showcase their skills in some of the most classic video games out there but also a bunch of new releases. I already hear you say “Pff, video games don’t take any skill. It’s just pressing a bunch of buttons.“. I’ll have to pull a Trump on this one and tell you you’re wrong. Remember that time you got stuck on that one dungeon in “The Legend of Zelda“ as a child and you just couldn’t figure out the solution? How about just entering a series of button presses in the exact right amount of time to launch yourself over the entire thing, maneuver skilfully to the desired spot on the map in the dark – because obviously the developers had not intended for you to take that route – and just slay the boss of the level without having any of the tools available you’d have access to if you took the normal way around. This is what’s called a “speedrun“ in the community: the abuse of ingame mechanics to beat a game within a fraction of the time needed, compared to playing normally. Months of preparation go into every single one of these runs that have been featured during this past week. Even more impressing that the players don’t only show off incredible tricks but also entertain the audience at the same time and try to explain what they’re doing. So if you were worried you wouldn’t understand what’s even happening on your screen, fear not!

The good cause: Médecins Sans Frontières

There’s a massive production team behind these events every year. Most of them coming straight from the community themselves. And – to my knowledge – all of them organising this on a voluntary basis, though there are known sponsors and brands to help out. During the stream, the audience can donate money which entirely goes to a good cause. The winter production forwards it to cancer research and the summer production to “Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)“; a non- profitable international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF gives emergency aid to people affected by wars, epidemics, famine, natural disasters and man-made disasters, or areas where there is no health care available. It provides this help to all people, regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs. (definition taken from wikipedia.org). Noteworthy as well that MSF have won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. They act on a set of 5 fundamental medical rules: Impartiality, Independence, Neutrality, Bearing witness, as well as being transparent and accountable. An overall great cause to donate money for, right? Something a few hundred thousand other people have thought, too, and they’ve raised a whooping $3,003,839. So not only have there been new time records set for some of these memorable games, but also a new record in the charity’s history that started in 2011.


With all that being said, I can only implore you to go check out this great exhibition if you’re interested in video games. There’s over 100 games being showcased so there should be something available for all tastes and ages. The livestream itself has ended yesterday, but all the runs have been recorded and uploaded to the „Awesome Games Done Quick“ YouTube channel. For legal reasons, I can’t link you directly. Go check it out and enjoy! Same goes for Doctors without Borders. Their homepage is incredibly informative. Go check that out, too!

Author: Tobias Lorenz

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor anyone on the eMAG team is involved in “Awesome Games Done Quick“. This is the author’s own opinion and he has not been paid to promote the event.

Push yourself …

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? Running! And it’s one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Then read on…

Laziness

One of the most interesting races of 2017 was the Berlin marathon. Motivation, strength of mind and exhaustion were only a few comments I picked up at the start line. Thousands of runners were trying to make it through the cold weather to the finish line.

Exhausted, with my feet burning, I got up from my couch after watching TV for 3 hours. I picked up popcorn from my sweater and switched off the documentary about the marathon on TV. I really needed to do something about my laziness.

Do your homework

Running a half marathon not only takes a lot of physical preparation but also mental endurance and if you’ve never taken on the challenge before, not knowing exactly what to expect can be rather depressing. The first weeks were sheer torment. I gasped for air after ten minutes of running and felt just awful. Overchallenged and glum, I was ready to give up. A few days later, while I was walking through my hometown, I found a note on the ground that read “Do your homework“. I guess a student had dropped it. That day, I literally found my motivation on the ground. I started to run almost every single day and the running improved incredibly fast. Even cold weather didn’t stop me. In some kind of way I got addicted to running, more than to watching TV. Who would have thought?

The grand finale

The final race day was incredibly nerve-wracking. I hadn’t slept a lot the night before and was up way too early. At the location, I picked up my race materials, including start number and t-shirt and went towards the start area. Lined up there, looking around at all these athletic, good-looking runners, I thought I would never be able to make it. I heard the gun and started to run. I can’t really say anything about the race itself because it felt like I was in my own world. People were supporting us, yelling and waving on the side of the road. The feeling was just amazing. The finish line came faster than I thought and it was okay. Actually, it was more than okay because I had sprinted the last two kilometers.

IMG_0708

The whys and wherefores

Answering the question of ”Why so much pain?”: it’s the feeling of running that sets our souls on fire. If we push on, running harder, further away from the world and the structures of our lives, we begin to feel connected to ourselves. We begin to get a tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. Besides the mental health issue, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a thoroughly trained, muscular body?!

Text & Picture: Linda Decker

Why ice hockey should be much more popular in Germany

icehockey 1I wasn’t too thrilled when my dad told me that we would watch the ice hockey finals of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Back then, I was eleven years old and all about soccer, American football, and basketball. Ice hockey was the game my brother used to play on our local ponds, not something to watch on TV and get excited about. Then, the game started, and I was hooked. Canada won against the USA, and the game was everything I came to love about ice hockey: fast-paced, rough, and electrifying. After that, though, there wasn’t much hockey on TV anymore. Only the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) playoffs and that was pretty much it. And then the day came on which pay TV finally began to broadcast the NHL (National Hockey League), and my love affair with hockey continued and quickly blossomed into a lifelong marriage to this wonderful sport. But soon I wondered: why is ice hockey not much more popular in Germany?

Hockey is such an easy sport to follow and the rules are really not hard to learn. There’s also little difference between the basic rules of the NHL and the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation). The biggest differences are the size of the rink and the overtime procedures. The other differences are so detailed that really only die-hard fans need to know them. The best and most fun way to learn the rules of both the NHL and the IIHF is, of course, by watching hockey games. So you should really start watching games right now, if you want to learn something really interesting for a change 😉

icehockey 2

The only thing I ever had trouble with watching both, DEL and NHL games, were the German words used for basically the same thing. For illegal plays like slashing, Germans say Stockschlag. The result of such plays is not a penalty but simply a Zeitstrafe. At the same time, Germans say penalty shooting when they actually mean shootout (three shots that determine the winner when the game is still tied after overtime), and in English, a penalty shot is something different altogether. So confusing! Yet the weirdest expression is bully. This is the German word for face-off, the dropping of the puck to continue a game. I guess I might be the only one who is bothered by this, though.

Overall, it’s really such a great sport and even though the German national team hasn’t been doing too well in international tournaments and didn’t qualify for the last Olympic Games, things sure look up when you consider the numerous Germans now playing in the NHL, e. g. Tom Kühnhackl, Leon Draisaitl, Tobias Rieder, or Dennis Seidenberg.

Additionally, ice hockey has given me the best memory of my life as a sports fan when my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 in a nerve-wracking game seven against the Detroit Red Wings, which reminded me yet again why I love this sport so much. So it’s really kind of sad that I can count the hockey fans that I’ve met in Germany on one hand, although everyone I’ve talked to seems to like at least some sports – hell I’ve even met some German baseballs fans. I thought once I’m studying in Augsburg, this is all going to change – they have the Panthers after all. But that wasn’t the case either since the only hockey fans that I’ve encountered were standing in front of the train station getting ready to leave for an away game. Go figure!

In my opinion, ice hockey is also still sorely overlooked by the media, even though it’s gotten better over the last couple of years and the DEL is now shown on free-TV. So if you’re into sports, just do me a favor: go and see a game if you haven’t yet, even if it’s just on TV and see if you like it (I’m sure you will!). Alternatively, start by watching a movie about hockey, e.g. Mircale. It’s about the surprise victory of the US national team in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. It’s one of my favorites! And maybe then, ice hockey will charm you just as much as it charmed me 14 years ago.

Author & Pictures: Alisa Lechky