Video Game Theme Park Launch Party

Check out what happened at Game Nation's Alpha test and launch party, GN Celebration.

A month ago, I interviewed Daniel Ruke, creator of Game Nation, a video game theme park. In the interview I conducted, which you will find here, Ruke gave us some information about the November 1st launch party GN Celebration.

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GN Celebration was supposed to be a three-day event in Ft. Myers; however, the party was condensed into one enormous day on November 1st, and on November 2nd they held a VIP brunch where details about the park were shared.

GN Celebration was located in Downtown Ft. Myers, at Hotel Indigo, and lasted from 4 P.M. to 11 P.M for the public. 

Events at 4 p.m.

As soon as I entered Hotel Indigo, I had to register. During registration you are given a specific pass depending on who you are. There were different passes for the regular public, the press, the corp, and for VIP members.  I was given the regular public pass called “Concert Pass;” however, because I knew Sean Cruz, one of Game Nation’s concept artists, I was able to gain access to VIP events. 

Below: from left, Sean Cruz and Daniel Ruke. 

There were several events taking place from 4 P.M to 4:30 P.M. You were able to play The Starved, which was GN’s live first-person shooter theme ride and attraction. For this attraction, you have to sign up for a specific time and then you get in a black van and you are taken to a different location where you and your team battles against vampire/zombies. 

I signed up for this event; however, in the end I was unable to join due to a delay. I did, however, obtain some interviews for you!

“It was a great experience and something you can bring your family on. The production was great and they overcame some technical issues. I look forward to Game Nation’s opening!”

What is The Starved?

Before I reveal some of the interviews I got a hold of for you, let me further explain what The Starved is. This live first-person shooter attraction begins once you get in a van. You are taken on a 5–6 minute drive where an actor begins saying things like, “Are you guys part of the squad?” and explaining the zombie/vampire incursion that will begin once you arrive at the next location. The actor separates everyone into two teams to fight the zombie/vampires and gives everyone in the van equipment, which includes a vest, eye protection, and an automatic rifle with three low powered pellets. 

Now that you know a little bit more about The Starved, here are some interviews on the attraction. 

Interviews: “My Experience With The Starved…”

“I liked the experience and the effort that was put into it. The performers handing out the weapons were very believable and the actor or guide who was doing the brief was laughable at times. The zombies were really cool and had on full makeup. The Starved was an awesome idea because it was just like you were in a video game. For instance, if you run out of ammunition, you have to get more ammo to load the rifle. You know you are hurt if a vampire touches you; however, you are healed by a medic that is on your team.

To be saved, your teams medic has to wrap something around you, so that you are back in the game. The only problem I can see happening with the game was that there was no waiver, so if someone takes off their eyewear and gets hit with a pellet, it could be bad. I’m sure Game Nation will figure out these logistics though. The other thing that can be bad though, is that if you have two people in your team who aren’t engaged in the world of the battle, it can easily take you out of the world or fantasy that the attraction has created.” – Anonymous, 15.

“It was a great experience and something you can bring your family on. The production was great and they overcame some technical issues. I look forward to Game Nation’s opening! Also, it was really cool to see some of the art I produced as the Illustrator, interpreted into live-action.”Chris Betancourt, Game Nation Illustrator, 24. 

Below: Chris Betancourt in front of The Starved van. 

“The vampires were very realistic, in fact a bit too realistic. As I was following the resistance I, myself, was caught off guard underneath the stairwell when I was attacked by a vampire. But luckily, the cunning players dashed to my rescue.” -Denis Dominguez, Film Leader, 22. 

Overall, The Starved got great reviews and there was even talk about a proposal in the middle of the incursion! According to sources, it was a successful proposal ending in a happy engagement. 

Other Events at 4 P.M

GN Celebration had an Injustice:God Among Us Tournament, where the winner was able to walk away with $500! There was also a Minecraft tournament, a trading card game, a UFS tournament and casual gaming.

Below are images of the Minecraft contest…and yes that is a little boy in the back dressed as a Minecraft character. 



Boffer Arena

At 5:00 P.M they opened up a boffer arena at the court-yard by Hotel Indigo. This is where individuals could battle it out with a friend or stranger. The courtyard was also a place where kids could join in some carnival games and a bouncy house. 

DJ’s and Speeches

Later at 9 P.M there was a performance by Brentalfloss, YouTube star and parody/cover artist of video game songs. He performed a parody of the Duck Tales song and a Mad Lip version of the Pokémon theme song. For more on Brentalfloss check out MysticBread’s article on video game music and creativity here

Below: Brentalfloss

After Brentalfloss performed there was a keynote speech that explained what Game Nation is and what it is trying to do and how it plans to combine both the video game and theme park market. You can read more about this here.

Below: Keynote speech

Moreover, after the keynote speech, the tournament and contest winners were announced. After this finished, DJ Cutman, pioneer performer of Dubstep, Chiptune and video game music performed. 

Below: DJ Cutman performing

For the public, GN’s launch party ended at 11 P.M; however, for VIP members, it lasted until after the VIP After Party. The VIP experience continued to November 2nd, at 11 a.m, where members joined in at the Inaugural Game Nation Assembly Meeting. At this brunch meeting, we learned about the creative direction of GN, where the theme park was going, and some other logistics.

Those at the meeting were able to discuss The Starved and their experiences. Members mostly discussed how the live-action game could be improved and what the drawbacks were. Those who got to experience The Starved spoke about the ammunition and eyewear, which I thought was interesting, since one of the people I interviewed also considered the possibilities of players getting hurt by it. Ruke and other Game Nation staff, were very thorough and open to suggestions on how to fix these issues and I strongly believe that their openness to listen to gamers and the community, will be a great thing for them for the success of the park. 

Below: Daniel Ruke, creator of GN and Donna Rugh, Executive Assistant of Ruke, Inc.

Moreover, Ruke discussed that the location of the park will be in Ft. Myers, and that it will take a couple of years to build.  Overall, the meeting was a great way to end the weekend launch party, and I can see great things to come with the park! Ruke said they will be touring around the globe with some attractions to showcase the home they are trying to build for gamers, and I will keep you all posted once this starts!

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