Recently one of the gamers here in the BVI went out to this beautiful country called Aruba. Now I had no idea that he took this vacation not just for sight seeing but to perfect his gaming skills. Talk about dedication. Who am I talking about but none other than the Rogue himself Cardiff.
So after he got back and finally collected his thoughts he took the time out with me to give his account for this trip. Now I must warn you he had alot to say…
You know as gamers, we put a lot of time into training and preparing ourselves for improving our skills. You have to be ready at any given time; a challenge is always if not almost just around the corner. Whether it’s an invite or a call from friends, we’re ready to go. But every now and then, we need a break and just relax from all that gaming. Like exercise, we need to catch our breath and go again for the next rep. So it was with me, when I was invited to come to Aruba for vacation.
I got the invite at Video X Games in July from Egbert Levenstone and he got the idea of getting gamers that he met there or friends from last year to come and experience their way of gaming. So I jumped at the chance and decided to accept his invitation. The dates were being discussed and decided (October 11-21, 2013), the tickets were purchased and printed and the suitcase/gaming gear was prepped and packed. On the day of departure, everything was in order, but not as you expect. I was called for a random search (1st time) going through Customs and got through with no problems and I didn’t get in on time to Aruba. I arrived 3 hours late due to failing runway lights while circling the island of Aruba for about 5-10 minutes and their flight control had to shut down temporarily, returning to Curacao and disembarking off the plane to refuel and finally getting to Aruba only to wait a few more minutes for getting my luggage from baggage claim.
Once all the fun was over (right), I was greeted by my Aruban friends Jeremy Leyba and Sean Maria at nearly midnight, tired just like me and about to crash. I had received a message from Jeremy saying ‘There’s an army of gamers waiting for me, so be ready!’ That message alone meant I had my work cut out me, although I came here on vacation. We’ve discussed where I was going to stay at a particular hotel, but due to miscommunications, I had to change my plans (will the fun ever end?). We found a small, private hotel for me to stay at which was good, but there was a glitch. I didn’t have enough money on my card at the time (good ol’ fun still here), so I improvised and used my cash to stay for a couple of nights until I sorted myself out. So Saturday morning came, sun rose and I’m here in Aruba. What a way to start a vacation. I did get my business sorted out so I was good staying there for the time being.
Here’s how my time was spent during my vacation:
Saturday is UTH game night at Sigbert’s house. The guys come and bring their consoles, controllers, games and TVs while Sigbert has the chairs, tables and food/refreshments. There’s PS3, PS2, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 systems to play all sorts of games (mostly fighting games). One thing I know that the majority of Aruban gamers are known for is Super Smash Brothers Brawl or Melee. If you’re there, you got to play; it’s fun and something I’ll be learning at some point. Also on the list was Street Fighter, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Injustice and Dragon Ball Z just to name a few. So as the day progressed, more gamers came and I understood Jeremy’s message by ‘The army’. I played almost all of them in all the games (except Smash and DBZ) and I enjoyed all my matches. Whether win or lose, I came to show them what I was made of and I didn’t disappoint. I got rematches all around; they wanted to see me in action. Especially those matches from Richi, Sean, Egbert, Jeremy, Godfried, Jose, Jonathan were the most intense in my opinion. After game night is done they packed up their equipment, get something to eat and went back to their respective homes. One thing I like about Sigbert when I spoke to him about game night is that they decided to have it once a week from last year and kept it going. It builds their gaming morale and more gamers come to practice or casually play games. If you stick to it, the results will show and it definitely did by the number of gamers I met there.
Sunday is Sean’s Sunday sessions at his house. This time he had the consoles, controllers, games and TVs, so just bring your controllers/arcade sticks and games if necessary. He has a plethora of systems like the more recent ones, along with classics like the Nintendo 64 (Goldeneye) and such. So you can play the same games just like those at Sigbert’s house at UTH game night. You can play to your hearts content and watch pay-per-view wrestling (if it’s on TV that particular day). That day, I challenged Jeremy/Sean to team up against me in TTT2 FT10 (first to ten). After some great matches, it was 10-7 in my favor. These guys bring the heat just as they do individually. Just a relaxing Sunday afternoon, what more can one asks for?
Wednesday is Level Up Arcade session in at Chong’s store. This place is like any electronics store you meet, except at night it becomes a game room. I should mention there are two FGC (fighting game communities) in Aruba; there’s HTM (Hidden Technical Machines) and Level Up Arcade. HTM is known for Smash, while Level Up Arcade is known for Injustice/Mortal Kombat 9. These are the other gamers I met. Here you’ll find Louis, Jonathan, Jose and Godfried; I’m sure there are more gamers, but I didn’t see them. We mostly played Injustice that night, along with some Street Fighter. I was rusty at Injustice because I didn’t play the game in months, so I practiced at Jeremy’s house before we went there. I showed them my skills and they were once again impressed, the matches were always down to the wire. Because of them, I’ll be playing Injustice a bit more. They didn’t want me to leave, but I had no choice. They’re anxiously waiting for my return, to get better at Injustice and challenge them again, which I’ll do in the meantime.
Thursday is gaming at Tito’s house. With his house, he has an open room which in my opinion can host a tourney similar to that at Versus/iKonnect. The guys bring their gaming equipment to set up and run games like Smash and Street Fighter. This was more of a chill night, just relaxing and enjoying the company. I was even teaching one of the girls Maria about Rose in Street Fighter; special moves, supers and ultras. She can be a contender if she keeps up the training. When I go back to Aruba, I’ll see how far she’s progressed.
Friday is gaming at Sander’s house. This time the main game was Smash Bros. along with Street Fighter. These guys train/play hard in this game. They would have singles battles and team battles of 2 on 2. The matches were never disappointing as a spectator; they get respect for that game. I may get into it for the Nintendo 3DS for now when the new one releases. I did play some Street Fighter matches which were good. During breaks, they go to Wendy’s to fuel up. They play until 3-4 in the morning, shows how serious they are about their gaming.
Monday and Tuesday are just regular days. Unless something is happening that day, the guys just decide on something to do and go with it. For this time, I did some sightseeing around Oranjestad with Jeremy, Egbert, Sean and Joel Coll. I saw some of the different hotels, beaches, malls, movies, stores etc. There’s a lot more to see, but I’ll do that for another time. I did get to see Gravity 3D at the movies which was good. I also went to the Palm Beach Plaza where you can do lots of things. The stores, movies, live bands and the arcades are there at your disposal. I have to remember my challenge at the Dreamland Arcade. I have a rematch to do against the owner of the arcade in King of Fighters 13. I don’t know what I did, but he just jumped in and started to play. They were close matches, but he won. I’ll be back for him, don’t worry. In there are many games to choose from, you can never go wrong. Even a game for getting candy to eat, you need a sugar rush.
To summarize my vacation, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Although I went by myself, there’s something about the discovery and trying new things with friends by your side. Their gaming scene is very active and almost something is always going on every night. If nothing was planned, then just go chill with your friends whether at the movies, walk/drive around and see the sights and just enjoy all that it has. They treated me like one of their own and I’m thankful for that. The competition (army) I’ve met is very reputable and respectable, they didn’t hold back on me and we shared some tips as we played. It was like I brought them something they didn’t had before. Heck, I even an invitation to join the HTM crew. They see something that I don’t, I have to ask them. I met new friends who I keep in contact with and they’re all good people. I’m already looking forward to my return.
So there’s one question left to ask, will I be there in Aruba for ‘Clash of The Condemned’ tournament on December 21-22, 2013? Something is brewing up in the air and I’m getting hints to come, but only time will tell 😉