“When you kill someone, you say they got ‘pwn3d,'” second-year electrical engineering major Matthew Honea said, speaking in his native Leet Speak.
To the layman, getting “pwn3d” in a video game means getting beaten badly, or “owned.” Honea said he takes the humiliation one step further.
“Then you can do some crouching on their face, but everyone has their own thing.”
It’s quarter to six, and over 100 people are outside Corwin Pavilion waiting for their shot at the glory, bragging rights and Xbox 360 they will claim should they win Microsoft’s Halo 2 tournament. Some of these players have already competed in several professional tournaments, while others keep their gaming strictly among friends. Many have brought their egos to the competition and don’t mind rubbing their victories in.
“I’m a Halo fiend,” said Josh Simmons, an environmental science and management graduate student. “I let my gun do the talking.”
Five projectors and several televisions displayed video games yesterday in the auditorium, which was divided into a competition room with space for eight players and a waiting room with pizza and games where a KCSB DJ spun bass-heavy electronica music.
Two brackets, composed of 64 players each, vied for dominance. In each round of play, two sets of four players faced off, with the winner of each match moving on to the next level of play.
Players stalked their virtual opponents through crosshairs in the darkened competition room, their transfixed faces illuminated by the glow of the projectors. The room was quiet save for the roar of rifles and such lamentations as “I just jumped off the cliff!”
As the first round came to an end, one player on each machine simultaneously shouted “yes!” The others groaned and shuffled out.
Some of the competition was exceptionally stiff. First-year business economics major Sean Jordan said he had been to two Major League Gaming tournaments, and has a sponsorship from Fry’s Electronics to play. He said he’s also been chosen to beta test the game’s highly anticipated sequel, Halo 3.
“If you hear a ‘Killtacular’ in the distance, that’s me,” Jordan bragged to a buddy. A Killtacular is when a player slays four opponents within four seconds of each other. An in-game announcer yells out the achievement, which is generally agreed to constitute “pwnage,” – a more extreme form of getting owned.
Eventually, after an intense semi-final round, the virtual smoke cleared and only two players remained – senior business economics major Leonel Solis and first-year chemical engineering major Edison Ticken.
The mood was jovial, and about 30 students gathered around the projectors to see which Halo titan could reach 10 kills first. Prior to the game, fourth-year computer engineering major Mike Boensel advised Ticken about the game’s psychological aspect.
“You should be screaming every time you win,” Boensel said. “You should be like ‘That could be my penis instead of a rocket in your face!'”
The game began, and within the first minute, Solis, perhaps out of nervousness, made a gaffe worthy of a “n00b,” or beginner. He fell off a cliff, provoking a chorus of moans from the crowd, and a quip – “I’ll need that,” from Ticken.
He was right.
The remainder of the match was one-sided, and Solis followed Ticken around the map like a specter, often delivering his fatal blows before his opponent even knew he was there. Finally, the match ended with a score of 10 to 3.
In the end, though Solis claimed the Xbox 360 and the glory, Ticken walked away with a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, however it was clear that the defeat had come as a blow to him.
“He was just better than me,” Ticken said. “[A copy of Vista] for four hours of work? I dunno… but it’s something.”
UCSB alumna and Microsoft recruiter Jaime Dodds said her company hosted yesterday’s video game competition in hopes of promoting new games for its Xbox 360 console, and to recruit computer science and electrical engineering majors for internships and careers. While resumes were being accepted at the event, Dodds emphasized its laid-back nature.
“This event is more about fun,” Dodds said. “It’s an opportunity for us to showcase some of our game technology and for students to take a break from their studies.”