For those who haven’t heard, I was recently invited by Microsoft to take part in a tour across Asia to help promote the newly released Halo: Anniversary game. To sum it up, over the course of nine days, Halo players from all over the continent got to play me 1v1 in Halo: Reach to win $10,000.
My first stop was South Korea, where I arrived at about 5:30 PM. The flight overseas was around 10 or 12 hours, so I was able to get in a decent amount of Dungeon Defenders on my Xperia™ PLAY. Microsoft took great care of me while I was there. I always had a translator by my side, and as soon as I arrived, we immediately took a car and went out to a place that was similar to a hibachi grill you might find in the States. The place actually reminded me of visiting MSU back in the day with Psycho Soldiers. During the Halo 1 era, we always used to go to this place called Korea House, and I would order a dish called ‘bulgogi’ along with dumplings. It was funny that while I was out in Korea promoting Halo anniversary, I ended up eating the same dish I used to enjoy during my time playing Halo 1. It’s cool how far things have come since then.
The following day, I ended up going out to the venue, which was a pretty massive mall. The event itself took place on the top of an ice rink, and the mall even had a mini amusement park on the top floor. The event was a part of a large tour Microsoft was conducting, and they were showing off a bunch of Xbox games alongside Halo: Anniversary. When I sat down to start playing against some of the competitors, I actually lost my very first match in MLG Zealot 1v1 to an overseas American. He played very well and ended up winning $10,000.00. As soon as the game was over, I immediately looked over at the people who worked at Microsoft to see their jaws had dropped. I think they were a bit worried they were going to have to write a few more checks than they were originally expecting, but I ended up going undefeated during the rest of the tour.
I also had the chance to meet up with my sister, who is out there teaching English. We had some beers, talked, and celebrated Halloween outside the country. We also spent some time at the local aquarium, but I was kind of disappointed with the fish on display. They were all so common. There were way too many bass and salmon.
Next up on the list was Taiwan. The first thing I remember about this country was going through customs, where I saw a guy wearing a hat of Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants. I just thought it was funny, because Taiwan was viewed as being one of the more serious countries on the tour. Taiwan was really similar to Korea, although after leaving Korea, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much sightseeing. I was only overseas for nine days, but a lot of that was traveling and playing Halo against people at the event. It’s cool traveling the world doing video game stuff, but you’re not going to get the full experience of the locations you visit if you’re there for work.
Sony Ericsson has provided me with the opportunity to meet a lot of fans at MLG events through the autograph signings Bravo, TLO and I have been doing. I love meeting fans and it’s always encouraging to hear from so many gamers at events. But going into this trip, I had no idea I had so many fans overseas. Everywhere I went there were fans that said they had been watching me since they were 12 years old. At times it made me feel old, but it was also inspiring knowing that these kids grew up watching me play Halo. It was a bit surreal. I guess I didn’t expect that in some ways. I didn’t realize MLG had such a worldwide fan base. I had a translator the whole time, and even though there was a language barrier, I could still relate through halo with the fans.
When I was in Taiwan, I did a bunch of interviews. The event was held in a local LAN center. I ended up winning all my matches. Everything went well. I also ran into Curtis Granderson, former Detroit Tiger and current New York Yankee. He was participating in an all-star game. He used to play a bit of Halo 1 and Halo 2. It was great having the chance to meet him.
After Taiwan I flew over to Hong Kong, which took me by surprise. The landscape is amazing. They preserve a lot of the land, and it was a really beautiful area. The event was held in a bar and the set up was really cool. Xbox had me do a demo of Halo: Anniversary for some press outlets.
For dinner that night, we went to the top of the Ritz Carlton hotel, which is one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong. We had a great view of the city. I also went out to a bunch of street markets to get some souvenirs and I got to do some haggling. I actually got ripped off by a street vendor pretty hardcore. I was trying to purchase a beer bottle opener and my translator was on the phone, so he was having a hard time paying attention. We ended up developing a routine to bargain with the vendors. I would approach a stand, say something was interesting, and look as if I was about to walk away. Then when the merchant tried to sell me the item, I’d say something to my translator, and keep shaking my head until the price was low enough.
After Hong Kong I hopped over to Singapore. It was a lot easier to communicate with people and get around since one of their official languages is English. Singapore is also known for being really strict, but it’s a very clean place and that had some great food. I tried to make a point of tasting the local food wherever I went, whether it was good or bad. In Singapore I got to eat hairy crab and sting ray.
The whole trip went so fast. I tried to make the most of everything, and it was great to have the chance to hook up with Microsoft and celebrate a game that’s changed my life over the last 9 years, and having the chance to meet a lot of international fans I didn’t know I had.
I’ll be throwing up another blog with my thoughts on the 2011 Season soon. In the meantime, if any of you guys are in the market for a new phone this holiday, Sony Ericsson is offering a free Xperia™ PLAY to new Verizon contract signees. It’s definitely worth a look if you enjoy mobile gaming. Check out the promotion they’ve got going on!