I had no idea — none! — that Super Smash Con was this big a deal.
It’s a second-year event and, aside from being gaming only, it’s 100%-focused on one single game. And yet thousands of Nintendo fans (eyeballing, I’d guess in the neighborhood of 3,000-4,000) from Europe and both hemispheres of the Americas lined up in 100-degree heat to get into a venue that anchors a strip mall by the airport.
My main purpose in being at the Chantilly Expo Center in the Washington suburbs wasn’t to represent BoroughCon, but rather to play cabbie to my son, who competes in the Wii U (a.k.a. Smash 4) tourney under the tag A Pocket Friend (I got no clue and he’s not telling). But since no teen wants their dad hovering over them, and because I need to learn all I can about how to run a con, I signed up as a volunteer.
Inauspiciously, they handed me a red shirt. Apparently Nintendo geeks don’t tend to moonlight as Trekkies.
So I showed up on time and did what they told me to do the first time they told me to do it, whether it was lifting ancient (and heavy) tube-screen TVs onto tables or directing attendees to the proper ticket booths. I did it without complaint or argument. I also figured a few things out by myself that turned out to be helpful: Put up a sign for guys lined up outside the main hall men’s room informing them that there’s another men’s room; making sure that the bottled water for the staff and the pizza for the staff were in the same corner rather than a football field away. For that, the core staff (blue, collared shirts; thingamajigs in their ears) started calling me “a pro”.
My age did not go unnoticed. At first, they called me “sir”.
“I work for you. You don’t have to sir me.”
Then they were a little shy about giving me tasks requiring physical exertion.
“Kid, I could bench-press you.”
Fortunately, they were a lot easier to shake from their ageism than the corporate rat-bastard who laid me off at age 49 years and 11 months. I was soon one of the #SSC16 gang.
And I actually got in the last word on this Millennial creation. I told their social media director that I was Snapping from Super Smash Con and I’d appreciate it if they followed borough_con on SnapChat.
“We’re not on SnapChat.”
As the kids text, SMH.
I started thinking about what all these conrunners, the oldest of whom is still younger than my favorite tie, made of me. It reminded me of a movie.
“Hey,” I asked more than one young adult, “Have you ever seen a movie called The Intern?”
It came out about a year ago and stars Anne Hathaway as an e-commerce entrepreneur who takes on an unconventional seasonal assistant. How unconventional? He’s played by Robert De Niro, the guy from GoodFellas and Meet the Parents. (If you’re thinking The Godfather Part 2 and Raging Bull, you’re probably too old to have seen The Intern.)
Nobody there of any age saw it. Too bad. Decent film.
Anyway, something else had been troubling me: Was I the only one at the event who didn’t have a gamer tag? If so, what could I call myself that would single me out in this new world. And it came to me.
Call me “De Niro”.
Now all I have to do is learn how to play.
Tomorrow, A Pocket Friend starts his pool competition, and his proud father will blog about it and explain why e-sports is a real thing to be embraced and not, as many of my generation mistakenly believe, an excuse to sit on a couch and stare.