Garnering a loyal fanbase can be a vital component for success in this industry, and while some struggle to develop and maintain such relationships with the consumer, there are those who really grasp what the community wants and really go the extra mile to show appreciation for those who helped them thrive. Gearbox Community Day 2012 illustrated to me that the heads of the studio have not lost the sheer enthusiasm for the medium and the gaming community at large, and props must be given regardless of how you might feel about the quality/content of their software. As a lone gamer in Texas, this gathering was like a tiny little nerd oasis that helped rekindle my enthusiasm for being an active part of the gaming world.
The event started off with an extremely long line that lasted about two hours, scored by the sounds of fellow nerds clamoring about the event, other fall games and so on. Once entering the venue (a local concert venue called The Palladium), we were greeted by tons of posters for Gearbox titles, and a giant ClapTrap statue (which is usually stored in the lobby of their HQ). After more and more lines, it opened up into a hallway leading to various auditoriums, one featuring demo kiosks for Aliens: Colonial Marines, one set aside for Panels and Q&As, and the main arena (with open bar) for the headlining Borderlands 2.
On top of the main events, there were merchandise tables filled with shirts, bags and the like, and a cool little set-up by the Video Game History Museum. This little area displayed tons of rare promo merchandise for games of old, and a gaming set-up for Atari and Colecovision games, each with their own little info cards giving historical context.
Outside of being able to check out their games before release (Aliens: Colonial Marines shows a lot of promise based on my time with it), there were several panels with Gearbox staff, moderated by Adam Sessler. Most of the topics of conversation involved humble-bragging and Randy Pitchford spouting anecdotes, but the tone was playful and fun, and some insight into the design process could be gleaned.
Attendance was pretty impressive for such a modest event, and there were enough cosplayers to hold a contest for best of show. The vibe of the whole thing was extremely enthusiastic, and any apprehensiveness I felt about attending what was ultimately a PR event washed away the longer I was there. With all the big time publishers and development studios out there with a drastic lack of any real identity or personality, it’s easy to see why people are so fond of Gearbox. It really feels like the result of a bunch of genuinely enthusiastic gamers living the dream and paying it forward.