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MANILA, Philippines - Stepping past the door and into a fan convention is much like playing an online game itself.
There was this sense of knowing that you were in a realm with people of shared interests, whether they sought competition or community.
For those who participated in Level Up! Live 2012 held on November 3 and 4 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, that was the unspoken bond shared by many in the convention hall.
Now on its 8th year, Level Up! Live is a gaming event for players under the Playweb Games banner. Under this banner, the Level Up! and E-Games titles reside.
This year's iteration of the event featured a stage with a tournament setup. Giant overhead screens were put in place for the streaming of the Ragnarok World Championship in Korea and tournament battles between the top Philippine teams in a number of online games.
A free play area was also available for convention-goers to play their game of choice at the event itself. A community area for various side events and a market area for showcasing sponsors' products and sellers' goods was also available. A wide variety of parlor games given a Level Up! Games theme and LU City, an assortment of booths put up by participating gaming guilds, were also popular at Level Up! Live 2012.
The two days featured a number of competitions that aimed to bring people cheering for their favorite teams.
Top players from various guilds took part in finals competitions to crown a national champion for each of the various games, namely Cabal Online, Grand Chase, KOS ProTour, Point Black, Perfect World, RF Online, RAN Online, Rohan Blood Wars, and Ragnarok Online. According to Jake San Diego, General Manager of Playweb Games, “It's every gamer's dream to win a tournament, especially a national championship title.” He adds, “Level Up! Live makes that dream possible for them every year.”
Part of the strong draw for the first day of Level Up! Live 2012 was a stream of the Ragnarok World Championship being held in Korea. While the Philippines was defeated by Japan in the semifinal rounds, the Philippine team did manage to secure a third place finish.
A search for Miss Level Up also occurred during the first day. Fans cheered for the muses of their favorite game as they posed for the public on the main stage.
The second day featured two events that brought a flurry of people to the main stage.
First, a cosplay competition was held in the early afternoon. It drew teams of people away from other attractions to cheer cheered for their favorite costumed adventurer.
There was also a great sense of pride on the afternoon of the second day, as the Philippine team returned from their battles in Korea the day before. With a respectable third place finish in the Ragnarok World Championship, you couldn't help but feel a tinge of pride at the Philippine fighting ability, even in a virtual world.
A sense of community was also present, in part due to gaming pride but also as a result of prominent guilds from various games hosting booths at one quarter of the convention hall. The result of this was a sort of organized chaos as guild members and interested onlookers went through the booths looking for their comrades-in-arms or for good deals on game-themed merchandise.
When asked about the best part of being in Level Up! Live, people readily brought up the strength of community as an answer. Ishi of the Team Manila booth showcased the banners of 4 different guilds that had managed to win trophies at online gaming events. Erin, who had been participating in LU City booths for 3 years, mentioned meeting new friends as a big draw for her. For Diane of the Flyff guild Idioglossia, the best part of joining the event was in meeting new friends, either from the same game or from different games.
This bond born of shared interest, either from competition or from community, was a big draw for longtime gamers. As some managed to bring their smiling children to the event, it seems the future of online gaming in the Philippines will stay alive and well. - Rappler.com
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