by Jason Whong
This is Mac Gamer's Ledge's second event of this type (the first one was a while back, in Virginia Beach), and it was about as fun as exhibiting in MacWorld NY, but without as much of a "thank you, come again" feeling that you can get from big shows.
My trek started on Friday afternoon. I took off from the Ambrosia offices, and drove...and drove...and drove. At approximately 2 AM I noticed statues of Confederate heroes like Robert E. Lee, and realized that I was indeed in Richmond. I quickly found a Holiday Inn and settled into bed.
The next morning was spent looking at more statues and attempting to find street signs, although I eventually showed up at this quaint little Mac shop, CapitolMac. It was then that I recalled that Richmond was, at one point in history, Capitol of the Confederate states of America. So that's where the name "CapitolMac" comes from.
CapitolMac was a nice shop, with a huge tech lab, and a small sales area. I walked in with my beta-loaded CD-ROM, and quickly found Mike Dixon, the head honcho at MGL. Within minutes, I was installing betas on one of the new iMac DV machines.
Shortly afterward, the door was opened, and people began to trickle in, poco a poco. The audience was a friendly bunch - they came with their families, their friends, and with their quick reflexes and gaming skills. Within hours, it seemed like I had seen a few hundred people at the show, and they were having fun looking at Ares and Cythera, and at previews of Pop-Pop and Ferazel's Wand.
Of course, it's a good thing that the guests didn't know that CapitolMac had ordered some large pizzas, because all of that exhibiting made me very hungry. I retired to the back and ate some pizza, chatted Ambrosia and Mac games in general with Scott Grenz, the Manager of CapitolMac, and chummed with the guys from Absolute Quality, a tech support and beta testing house in Maryland.
In the break room, Scott had a list of the top 25 independent Mac resellers in the US (CompUSA and the rest excluded), and wouldn't you know it, Capitol Mac was on the list! Not bad for a shop that looked so tiny at first glance. I couldn't even find a Washington, DC area shop on the list! (Or a Rochester area one, for that matter). I was impressed.
The afternoon was much like the morning, except that the number of new people there wasn't very high at all - instead, it was mostly people who had arrived in the morning, but were having tons of fun playing all of the games. So, while I didn't give as many demos as I did in the morning, I still had fun talking to people about Ambrosia, without revealing too many surprises about the future.
But another story begins after the show ended - sure, there were scads of prizes given away, and a good time was had by all (especially those who had played Ferazel's Wand and Pop-Pop). But once people had cleared out, the CapitolMac and Absolute Quality people started playing the betas, and let me tell you, it was embarrassing.
I was playing Humongous Entertainment's forthcoming "Backyard Football", which is a game I would have liked to play when I was younger. Simulating a neighborhood game of football, it's got kiddie announcers and backyard scenery. It even has team members of every race, and one with a wheelchair! It was a great premise, but I kept getting stomped and skunked by the opposing team, and after a humiliating 14-0 defeat, I called it a day.
After tearing down all of the machines, replacing the desks, and restoring Capitol Mac to its pre-event state, we went to Denny's to talk even more about Mac stuff. That's when Scott told me about his Mac OS X server vs. Windows NT shootout that he had in a glitzy hotel in Richmond. He had challenged a large company in Richmond to send its best IS guys to configure an NT server for a bunch of Windows clients, and he countered that he could do it faster on a G3 running Mac OS X and a bunch of iMacs.
To make a long story short, after running circles around the MCSE people, he proceeded to tell them that he had set up a zero administration network, since the iMacs had no hard drives. To prove it, he removed the shells, and showed them that there were no hard drives inside. The crowd gasped in amazement.
Scott sold 100 iMacs that day. Of course, the margin on iMacs is so slim that he probably didn't make too much on the deal after the cost of renting the hotel and catering were taken into account. But once RAM upgrades and site install fees are figured, I'd say Capitol Mac made a hefty sum.
Of course, the rest of us were stoked at the news, and we quaffed our iced teas with excitement before retiring to Scott's house for an evening of DVDs and even more gaming, plus a look at his rare MacTV (a black TV that had a Mac built into it... or was it the other way around?), and sukiyaki all around, if we were still hungry.
The next morning, Scott took me to a local diner for breakfast, where we watched another DVD on his PowerBook, and the crowds gathered 'round. People asked him about the PowerBook G3, its ability to play DVDs, its long battery life, and about the Mac in general.
As I departed northward that afternoon, I couldn't help but think that a rebellion was still alive in Richmond. Only this time, it was a Mac rebellion, fought by the agents and officers of one tiny Mac shop - Capitol Mac. Are you watching them, Apple? I'm sure that Chairman Bill is.
To close, I leave you with some pictures stolen from MacLedge's page.