[Quintin Smith is Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s roving reporter. He’s famously easy to talk into fun stuff. Once I talked him into hitting on girls at a hyper-elitist indie-rock festival in the style of Oblivion’s conversation sequences, heavily cribbing from Consolevania‘s review of Bethesda’s game. And he got worryingly far. He’s easy to talk into fun stuff because he believes in fun stuff. Hence he’s the ideal man to send to investigate the enormous house of gaming fun that is Birmingham’s Omega Sektor. Or so it says here, anyway. Take it away, Mr Smith…]
And now for a bit of investigative journalism. Come with me as I take you on a journey through the world of the truth. Be warned, for the path we’ll walk is paved with jagged, cutting interviews and broken hearts. If at any point you find yourself overwhelmed with emotion, I think it was Machiavelli who once said that ‘you can cry, ain’t no shame in it.’ But you should always remember that I never cried during the making of this piece. Not once. Because I am a grizzled journalist.
Here in the UK there’s been some chatter about the recently opened Omega Sektor in Birmingham, or to use it’s full, nauseating name, Omega Sektor: The Play Place. The Omega Sektor in Birmingham is planned to be the first of many and is advertised as a kind of gamer’s Mecca. The website offers hundreds of super-advanced PCs as well as games consoles, sponsorship from major game publishers, special events and tournaments, ‘guest appearances’, a chillout lounge, a VIP room, and above all- acceptance.
Everything I read about Omega Sektor made it seem an electronic milk and honey wonderland, where young and old gamers of all walks of life can come together and hold hands before blowing each other’s virtual kneecaps off. To quote from the site, “When gran challenges the twins to a game, you know you’re having a good day out.” But it all sounded bogus to me. I’m pretty sure when gran challenges anybody to anything all you know is that it’s time to help look for her medication.
All this chatter made me curious and the whole project clearly had massive financial backing, so I decided to travel up to Birmingham in the name of providing a thorough report on Omega Sektor for Rock Paper Shotgun. I also decided to pack a lunch and make a day of it, but then I remembered how horrible it is when companies try and make gaming cool and I got hit by a wave of apathy that led to my packed lunch being a bagel and a bottle of Famous Grouse.