As the sun set on the evening of September 24th, 2008, over 75 gamers descended on the Microsoft office in Bloomington, MN to wage a virtual battle of epic proportions. At stake, eternal glory and songs of legend – along with a huge stockpile of wicked prizes including an XBOX 360, Guitar Hero, Best Buy gift cards, custom airbrushed XBOX controllers, custom airbrushed Rock Band guitars, and of course, the obligatory Zunes. The competition was shaping up to be fierce in the early parts of registration as community influentials, MVPs, user group members and customers paid their $10 entry fee and found their place in the battle brackets. But as the gaming hour approached, the potential level of death and mayhem raised to an entirely new level as a new group of combatants started to arrive and register – the teen-agers. Decked out in baggy shorts, rumpled t-shirts and just enough peach fuzz to distinguish them from possible escapees of the bottom floor day care center, it was clear these new opponents had come for not only free food and near illegal amounts of caffeine, but also victory.
Attendees were whipped into a berserker-like frenzy before the tournament began with an energy drink chugging contest and the pounding rhythms of Rock Band. As the room reached capacity, the twitch-reflex gladiators took their places in front of four networked XBOXs and were put to the ultimate test as mayhem ensued. Battle rifles chattered, rocket launchers thumped, and Spartan Lasers shrieked with unrelenting malice as the tournament reached a fevered pitch. Yells of victory, panic or both filled the air as players’ dealt virtual death to each other. The heat in the room rose as hearts accelerated from the unrelenting rush of adrenaline and the Microsoft office air conditioning shutting down since it was after hours. The smell of fear (well, it was some kind of smell) grew as the battle waged on.
Over the course of three hours, combatants fell, winners advanced, and would be Halo heroes traded in their joysticks for drum sticks, microphones and guitars as the Rock Band room filled with vanquished warriors. As the ranks of the fallen swelled, demonstrations of XNA gaming ran in the corner to show the virtually slain a possible new path to becoming good at gaming – program games instead of play them and possibly build in cheat codes to make their chance of victory go up. As the bits settled, one lone polygonal and textured shaded warrior emerged. Fatigued but happy, Jesse Larson was named the Charity Fragathon Champion!
Chris Williams, VB MVP and XNA User Group leader was the Master Chief Organizer of the Charity Fragathon. With help from the community, Chris was able to solicit and gain the support of over 15 companies to donate money, food, beverages and prizes to the event. All told, Chris was able to raise over $12,000 dollars worth of cash, food/drink, and prize donations to help make the Fragathon a fantastic event for everyone that attended. Sponsors included:
The event was held at the Microsoft office in Bloomington on the evening of September 24th. There were a grand total of 78 attendees that each paid $10 as an entry fee, with many paying more than the minimum to help support a good cause.
At the end of the event, with participant donations and corporate sponsorships, along with a dollar for dollar match from Magenic, Chris and the Charity Fragathon were able to collect over $6,000 dollars for the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Every single attendee that I interacted with on the evening said they had a fantastic time and thanked Chris for putting on the event and Microsoft for supporting it wtih our facility and hardware.