Yesterday, Microsoft hosted an event to celebrate the launch of both the new Kinect motion controller for Xbox 360 as well as the official arrival of Xbox Live in South Africa.
Being the fine, upstanding and not to mention completely professional chaps that we are (they promised free food), we were there to cover the whole event and stayed until well after dark to make sure that we experienced everything (they had ice-cream too).
That heading isn’t a lie, and that header image isn’t photoshopped. Yes, that is in fact myself and Mr. Geoffrey Tim dressed as princesses attacking each other in a photo booth and yes, we really did get rescued by the Call of Duty: Black Ops Jeep.
Full story after the jump. Pics or it didn’t happen? No problemo.
Sunsets and Beanbags
So we got to the event, which kicked off with some popcorn. Wait what? Yeah, don’t ask me why, but they were handing out free popcorn while they were still setting up, and we were early. We aren’t picky though, so we demolished those packets in mere moments.
The event took place at the Urban Tree venue near Sandton, and while the place wasn’t much to look at from the outside, had a great setup that also allowed us to watch the beautiful South African sunset over the Sandton skyline… while sitting in beanbags, on astroturf, under a strange roof tent thing. Where was I? Oh yes, the venue.
The indoor areas of Urban Tree was kitted out with Kinect stations for people to play on and were manned by official staff-folk so that demonstrations were running at all times. They also had an open bar (very popular) that sat right next to a main area with seating and a main stage for the presentations.
Live Demos, Gooeys and a guy named Robin
After getting through as many free drinks as possible, the announcements began on the main stage with Microsoft’s MD Mteto Nyati. He was happy to not only announce the launch of Xbox Live in South Africa but also speak a bit about the Windows 7 phones that would be launching in South Africa very soon.
He also spoke of the death of the GUI (Graphic User Interface, pronounced as Gooey) and spoke about how devices like Kinect and touch-screen phones are ushering in a new era of interaction, which he called NUI (Natural User Interface).
We were then greeted by Microsoft’s SA’s Product and Marketing Manager Yvette van Rooyen, who introduced the Kinect device and spoke a little about it before handing the stage over to Xbox Ambassador Werner Joubert who gave a live demonstration of the Kinect.
We were then introduced to Robin Burrowes, the head of Xbox Live for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), who came on stage to give us all a run through of Xbox Live, what it does and how it works. We also got to see a live Kinect video chat (unlike the horribly scripted one at E3) with a MSN user on a PC, although there were a few hiccups with the Live connection beforehand. You know what they say, never work with children and animals (and internet connections… and just ask Steve jobs what he thinks about Wi-Fi.
The video chat runs very similar to what you would expect from something like Skype and was clear and smooth for the most part… and the fact that the Kinect followed Robin around as he spoke and walked around on stage earned it a lot of style points too.
What didn’t earn them any style points however, was the part of the presentation where they had some text up on screen, next to the character from Buzz!, which if you didn’t know, just happens to be a Playstation 3 exclusive title. It got a few giggles and ooohs from the folks in the know, but luckily for them, no one pointed it out.
Fun with Photos, all in the name of Movember
I was really happy to see that many attendees of the event were supporting Movember and rocking some seriously hardcore ‘staches of note.
Microsoft was also showing support, and had set up a photobooth with awesome accessories near the entrance of the event for people to take some awesome shots, which they would then use as a reason to donate money to the cause.
So after the point where we stuffed our faces with as much food as possible and the point where we left, we decided to go and show the photobooth people how its done. Terrible things ensued involving myself, my wife Adri, Geoff and Ricky Ferreira from EvoPoints. Here’s what it looked like:
Click the image to see it much, much bigger.
The Call of Duty: Black Ops Jeep Arrives Like A Hero In The Night
So after all the fun, we decided that it was time to get the hell home before security started taking shots at us.
When we got to our car, we realised that some complete n00b *ahem* had left the car lights on, and the car was completely dead. That was fine, we thought, as we were parked on an insanely large downhill, so a rolling start would be easy.
Fifteen minutes ater we were panting heavily and sweating from effort in a very dark, dodgy area aboult a block away wondering how in the hell the car didn’t start after making it so very, very far. Almost completely out of options I whipped out my phone and called upon the great knight Devon Stanton-ness, of Megarom, who I knew was still at the event – asking if anyone had jumper cables.
Shortly after that, the supremely awesome Call of Duty: Black Ops branded Jeep arrived looking like the Batmobile, carrying Devon, Werner (which many of you will know as MiNeM) and a set of jumper cables.
Using the pure power of Call of Duty: Black Ops (mandatory product plug for saving my ass) the Jeep managed to get our car going after a revving some juice into it.
Just as we thought the night couldn’t get more interesting, out of the dark walks none other than James Francis, who you may remember as Priest from NAG magazine, who just so happened to leave his car lights on as well… about 5 meters away from where we had gotten stuck in the dark.
Either it was fate that brought our car to its final stop right next to someone else who would need help, or it was that suspicious looking EMP button that we saw in the Jeep. EMPing other peoples cars just so that you can look awesome when you save them is a dirty, dirty trick Megarom.
Roll the credits:
We went home after that.
Thanks to Microsoft for a successful event and for letting us eat your awesome food (and launching XBL in South Africa). A big thanks then also to Devon Stanton and Werner Joubert for saving our butts with the super-duper, amazing, incredible, infinitely cool [ OK that should cover it Megarom, we are even ] Call of Duty: Black Ops Jeep.
Last Updated: November 10, 2010