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An ignorant non-gamer takes on the Intel Game Chamber and falls in love

The Intel Game Chamber was held in Sydney on Wednesday to showcase gaming and VR all run by Intel’s latest processors. Madeleine Chapman, a bad, almost-non-existent gamer, went along and tried not to get pwned.

Grasping my brush tightly, I eased into a stroke, watching as bright orange paint was left in its wake, a beautiful exhaust suspended in front of me. The paint stayed there, frozen in the open space, so I added another stroke, and another. I switched colours, textures, materials. I built a highway from the ground up, taking extra care to craft all sides equally. At one point I showered my surroundings with shooting stars. But then it looked a bit tacky so I took them back. I created fallen leaves and an ocean, and then I-

“I’m sorry you’ll have to stop there.”

The man in charge of the booth took my glasses off and there I was, back in what used to be a prison cell block but was now hosting the Intel Game Chamber. 

“How was it?” He asked obligingly. “What did you draw?”

image

I assumed he had been watching me craft my masterpiece on the TV monitor behind me, but maybe he had been distracted. Then I turned around to the monitor and saw what he was seeing: a child-like paint creation that kind of looked like a fence. What I had painted in those glasses was so much cooler, I wanted to say, but then remembered that I had once recorded myself singing, thinking it would sound okay, and had the same disappointing experience, so maybe it was just me.

However, once I told him what it was (a long-exposure image of a motorway), he nodded and said, “That’s actually one of the better ones we’ve had tonight.”

Losing badly and loving it (source: Intel)

Losing badly and loving it (source: Intel)

I tell this story first because Tiltbrush, a virtual reality design programme, was the only thing I was ‘pretty good at’ in the Intel Game Chamber, a Sydney showcase of the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition and the Intel Skull Canyon NUC. A mostly invite-only event, the Game Chamber had stations set up to show off what these new processors could do with different games. And I was bad at all of them, yet somehow they were still great.

I played Doom on a large monitor and everything was moving around so fast that I somehow died even though there was no one attacking me.

I played a car racing game across three screens and came second to last only because another car flipped over and burst into flames.

I played an open-world adventure game and couldn’t figure out the objective so just bought a new outfit for my character.

I watched as a pair of pro overclockers pushed the new Intel processor to its limits. Everyone was looking at the screen to see the latest updates but I just watched the dry ice show instead.

Overclockers cool down a processor with liquid nitrogen

Overclockers cool down a processor with liquid nitrogen

The big draw of the event was the CSO: Go ten computer LAN set up. Open to all gamers, teams of five would face off until a champion team could be crowned, with all computers running off an Intel NUC. If there’s one thing I know about gaming it’s this: if you suck, never accept a polite offer of a turn, especially when there are limited lives or teams involved. I have lived by this rule my entire life and it’s never let me down.

So I got in early before official play started and there were only five people at the computers ‘warming up’. Any time someone was killed by another player, there would be a reaction: a groan from the recently deceased, and some sort of triumphant sound from the killer. Meanwhile, I was quietly playing in the same game and getting killed every ten seconds, yet nobody was making any noise about it. Then I realised I was probably so useless they just thought I was a computer bot that they had to get rid of on their way to their real opponents.

In short, I sucked at everything. But of all the things to suck at, the virtual reality games were the most fun. I could have painted away in mid-air for hours. Everything was so bright, crisp, and in your face. It actually made me a little anxious the first time I put the goggles on with the headphones because it just seemed like the perfect setting for a prank video. Instead I got transported to another dimension where spheric aliens exist and I could paint with neon light.

Gamers who got game

Gamers who got game

As far as attendees went, I was by far the most ignorant. So I spoke to an Intel man and asked him to explain the gaming industry and its products in a short, simple manner. And he did. He talked about the rise of gaming as a profession and how much some gamers are paid to stream their playing (a lot). He told me what a processor did and why serious gamers might want a ten core i7 Extreme one (super powerful) or why enthusiastic but budget-conscious gamers might prefer the Skull Canyon NUC (small and versatile).

He spoke of the advancements being made in the health sector, particularly to do with the elderly living alone. How the sensors used in virtual reality gaming will one day be able to sense when something’s amiss in a vulnerable person’s home – shower on too long, fridge not opened in days – and call for help. As I looked around at people flying simulated planes and drawing 3D designs in a virtual reality, I realised I was getting a glimpse into the future, and it looked pretty damn exciting.

Then I tried to take a photo on my iPhone 4 and realised I need to catch up to the present first.

Disclosure: Madeleine’s travel and accommodation in Sydney was provided by Intel 


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