So this blog has now gone international! *Kermit flail* YAAAAY! I am studying abroad for 5 months in the Netherlands which means my neighbor is Germany. Hi Germans! *waves* On Thursday, the 22nd, I had the opportunity to go down to Germany and see some of my EU friends. Of course, I took this chance and quite the adventure ensued. What follows is the good, the bad, the ugly, and the absolutely fantastic! Read on, dear reader!
So on my way down to Germany, I sat next to a woman who reminded me of my grandmother. Made me sad I cannot speak German and she did not speak English well but we communicated well enough. She was very sweet and gave me candy. She also thought it was very funny I was a communications student and I could barely communicate with her. I actually find that very funny too. German is the language of my mother’s side of the family but my grandmother did not teach it to my mother for various reasons. This never made me more sad than on this trip. Although the one phrase I know in German, how to ask someone if they speak English, got a lot of use this trip haha.
I unfortunately did not make the meet up since my train ended up getting rerouted. I had to backtrack from Eindhoven where I took my train, then I had to wait an hour for a direct train and by then it was much too late. I could have still gone to the meetup, but it was between that and not having a place to sleep that night. I tend to like having a place to sleep haha. I ended up spending the night at Andreas’ flat. He was such a gentleman and very funny. I found him through my friend Angerina which was an amazing connection. It was either that or spend 89-100€ on a hotel room. It turned out quite well.
The next morning, I woke up at 5am when his alarms went off. He took longer to wake up haha. We talked while he got ready and then we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
I went to Burger King to try to mooçh free WiFi but that plan failed. Finally found some and got in touch with Sam aka Tasha_darke and her husband. We went and did some touristy things like go to the cathedral near the train station and this really cool underground Roman excavation site. We ended up meeting their friend Andy for lunch and then we hung out until about 4pm when they had to catch a train to go home back to the UK. It was sad we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, but they are all fantastic people and I hope to see them again sometime.
That’s when my trip got interesting. I was supposed to leave shortly after they did but Sam gave me her Gamescom pass and I had been in touch with Tilion about getting together with Aidan, the CM in England for GW2. I decided to miss the train to go meet him because I’m clearly crazy. So I snuck into GC with a pass that wasn’t mine. Luckily, they didn’t check my ID hehehe.
GC is HUGE! My only other experience with a gaming convention was PAX East earlier this year so this was quite a bit different from that. Also, everything is in German which I don’t speak. One thing that struck me is the energy of the convention. It was exactly the same as PAX East. It really proved that gaming is an international language. We might not all speak the same language, but we all understand and love gaming. I could definitely see the passion that transcends spoken language. I could feel the energy and got excited with the crowds even though I didn’t understand what they were saying. I understood the love of the games and that was the best thing I took away from my Gamescom experience.
While going toward my goal, I got lost a few times and finally found the NCSoft booth. I asked around and finally found someone to contact Aidan. So we met and hung out for a bit, talked a bit about the game and just general stuff. It was quite fun and he’s quite charming. Little did I know how wonderful a person he really is. More on that later.
I then got this crazy idea to stay later to go to the Wildstar party and meet Elizabeth Cardy aka Elixabethclaire and Martin Kerstein. We met and I hung out with Liz the entire night. Holy crap, she’s awesome! We are very alike and got along great. If you ever get a chance to hang out with her, DO IT! You will not regret it. She’s just as amazing in person as she is online. Martin as well. Martin is one of the CM’s at ArenaNet that actually inspired me to get into Community Management. I had my little fangirl moment meeting him, but I feel like I handled myself well. He was quite flattered and happy to hear that I appreciated his style of community management. We all had a bit of a conversation about community management and one thing Martin said really stuck out. He said that there are just some things that cannot be taught with community management and one of them is empathy for people. I found that this was so true with what happened to me next.
By that time, I had missed all the trains and the next one didn’t come til 3am. I hung out with Aidan after Liz and Martin went to bed. Then about 2am, I started to fade. I didn’t think I could make it to 3am let alone navigate my way back to den Haag through two foreign countries on 3 hours of sleep. It was not going to happen.
This is where Aidan came to my rescue. He truly lived up to the title Community Manager and he truly exemplified what Martin was saying about empathy. He tried to find me a place to stay, going as far to look for hotels. He finally found a guy, Kevin, who had a spare bed in his room that I could sleep in. I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing. I had never have someone bend over backwards like that in such an extreme manner, especially not someone who worked for a super popular gaming company. I often say that Guild Wars 2 has the best community, I can now say they have the best Community Managers as well. Not enough words to describe how wonderful it was and how grateful I am.
I got a really good night’s sleep and woke up at 11:30am. Best sleep I’ve gotten since I’ve been here.
I went downstairs intending to leave and saw Kevin who introduced me to a bunch of gamers. I hung out with them for quite a while and finally got a hold of Aidan to say goodbye. I got into a discussion of politics which I actually enjoyed for once. It was very enlightening and I came out feeling better than I ever have discussing politics in my own country.
Then it started raining and we all parted ways. It was an amazing time and an awesome experience. It had it’s ups and downs, but overall, I feel like the experience came out on a high note.
I am so grateful for the gaming community and all of the people I met who helped this bumbling Californian find her way through two foreign countries, even though she put herself in those situations to begin with. Sometimes we do stupid things, but there are always people out there who won’t judge us for our stupidity and help us regardless of it. Those people are wonderful and some of them even work at one of my favorite gaming companies ever.