Dreamhack: A Convention for the Strongest Fighters under the Heavens


Viggo Kovas, Staff Writer

Blaring J-pop music, crowds eagerly awaiting a climactic showdown, and a tournament for a game older than many people reading this: these were a few aspects of my DreamHack San Diego 2023 experience. I’m not the biggest fan of conventions because of the humongous price tag that follows them, but after receiving a free ticket, I had no reason not to go. I’m a fan of fighting games and many aspects of nerd culture, so a convention revolving around those two things sounded like a splendid time.

Out of all the things at the convention, I didn’t expect to play what many consider the pioneer of first-person shooter games. GoldenEye 007 was released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64 and is well known for being one of the first console shooting games, as well as having horrendous controls. And on the first day of the convention I had the “pleasure” of trying it. I arrived late because of classes that day, so I wasn’t sure what to do. My first instinct was to purchase posters due to my lack of fighting game merchandise, leaving me with a lack of money from all the amazing artwork I couldn’t refuse to buy. After that is when I heard about the 007 tournament. “There are 10 people allowed to enter.” Ok. “No one playing has experience.” Ok? “The prize for the winner is $1000.” OK! I knew this was no task to be taken lightly and wanted to be slightly familiar with the game before playing. Thirty minutes before the tournament began, I hopped on a set-up with people I’d never met before to learn the game. Since none of us had played the game, we all bonded over our realization of the outdated controls and, as we called it, “defining the meta” of the game. Proximity mines were easily top tier because no one knew how to move and would foolishly walk into them. Unfortunately, I didn’t win; perhaps I should have trained harder. But, that was made up for when we went out to eat afterward.

Now for the main reason I was there: the fighting games. There was a set up for people to challenge the competitive player Justin Wong in a game of your choosing. Naturally I would have beaten him (I would have gotten majorly stomped) but the line was too long, so I chose to spare him. Instead I went to watch a top-eight tournament for Guilty Gear Strive but didn’t know anyone else there. At first, I was getting bored; the dark lighting, lack of social interaction, and just watching games made for a sleepy atmosphere. All was saved though after an amazing match, where the guy sitting next to me said, “Man that was a crazy game, right?” I responded with, “I KNOW RIGHT?!,” and from there we started chatting. Talking about our experience with the game and saying how we thought different matches would go was a real reminder of the importance of social interactions in the fighting game community and how it’s a great way to meet people. Afterward, I met up with some people from the Triton Fighters Club to eat. Being out in the nighttime, the downtown atmosphere, eating a delicious burger, and talking about fighting games was a great way to end the night. And of course, a shoutout to the homie Battler Ushiromiya, truly one of the best guys ever.