It was near the city in Footscray, and only about a ten minute walk from the Footscray train station. The hall was big and open, with a really high ceiling. With the bare concrete floor and walls and the looming roof, it really did feel like the Batcave! On each side of the walls were long rows of tables sheathed with black cloth, and upon the tables rested BenQ monitor after BenQ monitor- flashing light and fire, and Xbox after Xbox grinning with that familiar green glow.
At the back of the hall were two arcade cabinets, hooked up to a big projector screen. And behind that was the stream setup where Team Bugs captain Justin Creed was already sitting at, hard at work. I walked around for a while, letting all the space (and icy air) seep in.
And then I sat down and played all day.
It was really nice to talk to a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while. And it was especially nice to patch things up with a good friend. Afterwards, when the SBO qualifiers were done, and Antman had emerged victorious, with Fish playing out of his mind to eliminate Toxy to reach the grand final (good shit <><!), I started thinking to myself.
“This is great,” I told myself. “Hm… there isn’t really a point to running CCH anymore is there?”
When I had found out about the new Shadowlogic venue months before and the financial ramifications of the venue, I had already started thinking about the possibility of having to shut CCH down. Back then it was unclear if they were going to open every day, but after doing some calculations of my own, I concluded to myself that they would almost have to- just to stay in business.
I decided to give it some time. See what the schedule of Shadowlogic would be, and how the community reacts to the new venue. Perhaps CCH and Shadowlogic could co-exist.
What followed after the SBO qualifiers was the announcement that Shadowlogic would be open every day to the general public.
So I started thinking to myself again. Shadowlogic is a bigger venue. It’s close to the city as well. It’s not limited by the library in opening and closing hours. And most importantly, while CCH depends on its attendees to bring setups- there are already twenty setups ready to go at Shadowlogic. Would our small community have enough bodies to split between two venues open on the same day? Why keep two venues open if the other is plainly superior?
So I started talking to people, I wanted to get their opinions before I made a decision. I got a lot of good feedback, and contrasting opinions. Some people told me that they didn’t want to see CCH being closed down, because they believed it was important to have a diversity of events in Melbourne. Firstly, having a diversity of events means that you have a bunch of different cultures which attracts different types and level of players, and also, having a diversity of events means that there will be events on different days of the week, so people would be able to make another event if they missed one. Obviously, the main downside of having such a diversity of events means that the player-base is then split.
Another thing people brought up to me was they felt that it was important to have community run events in Melbourne. Now, CCH has always to me, been a community event run by the community, for the community. That’s not to say Shadowloo events aren’t run for the community, but they’re run by Shadowloo, which is essentially a closed business operating within the community. If Shadowlogic events grow and prosper, their business prospers, but that also means they can do more things with the venue, which in turn provides an even greater platform for the community to grow. And that’s a good thing.
But essentially community events like CCH are agenda-less events. The venue costs nine bucks a night to rent. So there’s not much of a venue fee to have to make up. People bring gear, so there’s no equipment costs. The event is basically self-sustaining. That’s why I have tried to make the event essentially free- bring a stick, console or any sort of gear and you avoid paying the $2 venue fee (which is pretty much only there to encourage people to bring gear). People just come and play games and hang out. There is no agenda or rent or objective to meet with CCH. The only thing that CCH needs to sustain itself- is people. If people don’t come, there is no gear to play on, and nobody to play.
So before the next CCH I posted on the Melb FGC Facebook thread and on Ozhadou asking for feedback.
And boy was I swamped by feedback. I got a lot of personal messages, and the FB thread blew up with back and forth zingers. I even got one or two long phone calls. Quite a few people told me how much they loved CCH, and explained why they didn’t want to see it go. But overall, I think the majority opinion was; I love CCH, but I can’t see it surviving long-term. And I basically agreed. I decided to wait and see after the next CCH to see how attendance goes, and see if things got too badly split between the two venues.
So I showed up to the next CCH, and we got 10-15 people which was actually way more than I expected. We got some regulars like Spoony, Syntax, Kris and Andrew. H and Naruga showed up. Igor was there with his Dreamcast setup. He had like 200 Dreamcast games in a crate, which was crazy.
So we still had a decent sized amount of people and setups, which was very heartening. I talked to everyone, and Pyro even came by and I had a long chat with him as well. Gabneto came by and had my ear a bit. The amount of people and support was quite heart-warming, and I was considering whether I could extend the “trial period” for a few more weeks and then close it down if everything truly petered out.
But I went home and slept over it. And I went to SNL on Sunday to talk to more people. Eventually, as I tallied up opinion and point after point, the practical side of things starting winning out. I asked Ali how many people they got on Friday night, and it was like ten people. Fifteen at CCH, ten at Shadowlogic. 25 people is not a big number to split between two places, and that became the deciding factor. I decided then and there that the next CCH would be the last, and I started telling everybody that the next one would be the farewell CCH.
I posted this in the Ozhadou thread and on Facebook, and it was pretty much what I felt at the time:
“Hi guys, this will be the last CCH. After much deliberation and talking to people, I think this is the best thing to do in the long-term for the community. As I’ve mentioned before, Shadowlogic is a another city-central venue with setups already there, and more importantly it needs everybody’s support to keep running, whereas CCH was pretty much self-sustaining. Basically, it makes no sense to divide our already small player base between two venues.
I’m really, really sad to have to shut CCH down. Thanks to everybody who supported the event, came and brought gear, and hung out together at the Collingwood library. I was quite surprised when I posted on FB and on Ozhadou asking for feedback; a lot of people told me how much they loved CCH and that they didn’t want to see it go. So thank you guys for your support, and your words affected me a lot. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do, and in the end I think the practical reasons for shutting it down won out.
I will always have great memories of CCH. So much great shit went down there. Pre-SS moneymatches, exhibition matches, east vs. west wars, trailer reveals and so much more. I remember all the people I met for the first time at CCH who became community regulars; guys like Burnout and Shadowfox. I still remember the first time I went to CCH and it was still in this portable building next to the library! A big thank you to the Motherfucking Founder and Namesake of CCH: Chris Dang, whom without all this would not have happened. He put a lot of his free time and effort into CCH, and I will always be grateful that he chose me to carry on his legacy.
And now I must kill it.
So! Because this is the last CCH, there is no venue fee. It is Free for the night. (What is the point of accumulating more money.)
So I will use the remaining cash in the Doraemon, (I think it’s like twenty or thirty bucks, I haven’t counted), top it up with some of my own cash and we’ll have pizza for everyone. (As much as the budget allows.)
Also Igor will be bringing two cheesecakes, half and half each.
I need volunteers. All ye who loved CCH, bring forth food! And Alcohol! And drinks! Bring something and we’ll all share in the food and talk and reminisce about this great venue and the times we’ve had here.
This is the last CCH; let’s make it a good one.”
So as the days went on, more and more people started pledging food and cash. My pizza budget ballooned from $80 to more than $250.
Another good thing that happened was me bumping into the Founder aka Chris Dang randomly at Bluehouse.
Having a nice long talk with him about CCH was just the peace of mind I needed. I had actually hoped that Chris would voice his opinion in the threads eventually, because it still felt weird to me to close down something that he had started. The funny thing was that Chris told me he had kept silent for a reason- he didn’t want to butt into a decision he felt was mine to make, and he felt that he didn’t have a say in CCH anymore. Which was pretty much the opposite of how I felt and wanted him to act!
So it was good to talk to him about it, and he really reassured me about my course of action. Not only that, when I told him about the farewell CCH plans, Chris, being the absolute nice guy that he is, gave me an additional $100 out of his own pocket to contribute to food and drinks!
I think Carnage said it best, on a night when we should be buttering Chris, he buttered us instead. I take my hat off to the Founder.
So the night came, and I think we did CCH proud.
Chris Ho was a champion again and provided SIX setups of his own. We easily had enough setups to fill the room, I think 10 setups or more? Syntax even came by, drove home to get his setup and came back the same night! I think everyone was definitely able to get their fill of games in that night.
I showed up pretty early (or so I thought), at around 530pm. I thought I would have plenty of time to setup and maybe practice a Spencer combo or two. I was amazed when I walked through the door and everything was already set up brilliantly by Chris Ho and Burnout. They had all the setups on the tables on the side, they had made a little dining table area with tables put together and chairs all around, they had set up the projector with Kevin feeding it video from his laptop….Man you guys are the best. I was gaping at the room and they were already sitting down nonchalantly playing casuals already with Street Pussy.
Not to mention Chris Ho had just a wisdom tooth extraction and was dealing with pain and swelling…despite all that he still brought the setups there, and even drove me to Safeway to buy cutlery and plates…frickin’ selfless Chris Ho.
What was also awesome was the generosity of the community. So many people chipped in with cash for the food, guys like Naruga, Toxy, Nick, Sharkowski, Kevin, Alex, Kenji… too many people for me to remember off the top of my head., but thanks to everybody!
We had a real spread. Street Pussy brought tons soft drinks and beer with part of the Founder’s money and Cactus even brought a whole Esky with ice and tequila! Igor brought two delicious cheesecakes, and Rob was kind enough to expertly slice them up for us. Pyro, knowing how gamers are all too well, personally hand delivered many a slice from table straight to lap. We had so many people bring food; we had Tim Tams, bags of chips, Jim Beams, imported Dr Peppers…Huge thanks to everybody for their incredible generosity.
Even dudes like THK even rocked up to the table, and instead of hocking food, he actually reached into his bag and grumpily deposited two crumpled bags of potato chips on the table! I thought I’d never see the day…
Thanks to everyone chipping in, I was able to order eleven New York sized pizzas (18 inch) from Panned Pizzas in the city. I actually was able to get a discount from the manager because I ordered so much pizza! My logic for getting those pizzas was that instead of getting regular large pizzas which would have like eight puny-sized slices, getting those New Yorkers would mean instead of having to go back and eat like five or six slices, the regular SF player would only have to eat like two or three slices to be sated.
People were a little shy to grab food at the start of the night, but man, even though there were eleven pizzas, within like twenty minutes there were only two pizzas’ worth of slices left!
So many faces rocked up, it was really good to see everybody. I hadn’t seen dudes like Heavy and Rice Cooker in ages. All the regulars like Syntax, Andrew, Spoony, Carbuncle, Pimp aka Cyrus, Fish, Kris, Gabneto, Ross, Bugs and ZG were there. Top players like Toxy, Somniac and Phero were already going hard at it. Naruga and Carnage also came by slightly later in the night. We got a few new faces like Shark, Zhen Wei, and the “ah, the innocence of youth” couple Kenji and Tuyet…
The Shadowloo dudes all came down to CCH as well, they shut down Shadowlogic for a night to come down to CCH and I was really thankful for that gesture. I hadn’t seen Rob and Exis in a while, and it was real good to see them.
We did old CCH traditions like CPU moneymatches. Heavy did his best to hype up the crowd, and people were calling out stridently for someone to match their sidebets. It was so hype and comedy at the same time.
Everyone was hanging out just like in the CCH days of yore. You got Fox, Ali and Sol yakking in the doorway. You got the “old mens’ corner” at the dining table with Rice Cooker, Bugs and Igor. You had the smokers outside shit-talking and shooting the breeze with Genki and Rossco. You had the Asian gambling corner with Cyrus and me.
Heavy wanted to do another Marvel exhibition set with me, but then somehow it turned out that he had to play Rob first, and the winner would then play me. Rob beat him- but I never played anybody that day! I might’ve whipped out my fimble vanilla She-Hulk team for some comedy if it did happen.
Another funny thing that happened was the portable building next to CCH making a reappearance. I’m sure the people who went to the very first CCHs remember that it wasn’t in the library, it was in this portable room set up in the car park. The room had a couple of CRTs in it, and we just clambered into this big ass room and played Street Fighter all night. This must’ve been late 2009 or early 2010. Actually, it must’ve been after the release of Super, because Chris ran it to basically meet the needs of the community split between the console version of Super SFIV and the arcade version of SFIV. I remember the people that were there that have since “retired” like Andy and Khan…man it’s been a long time. Eventually the room got taken down, and we started using the community room that was actually inside the library.
So how funny is it that on the very last CCH, that room suddenly reappears out of nowhere. It was like things coming full circle, the beginning meeting the end.
So the night went on, and people smacked buttons, hung out and drank booze. Cactus got so drunk…he definitely won the “drunkest dude at CCH” award. He could barely stand at the end of it, and kind of kept tottering around, half-falling over and giggling at like 4-5am. (He never stopped drinking.) He couldn’t even drive home! He ended sleeping in his car that night, waiting for his girlfriend to come drive him home. Now that is a man who knows how to have a good time.
We eventually closed shop at 530 AM. David aka DNA was so patient- he waited and waited for us to finish so that he could take the setups to Rivalry the next morning. I believe he had to set up at 9am the next day? And he started driving back to Werribee from CCH at 530am. A superhuman effort, and much thanks to David. Much thanks to everyone who helped with clean-up actually, especially Spoony, Kevin and Chris.
So as I shut the library doors for the last time, and I threw those old keys into the chute, I paused to look at the building that had provided so many moments and memories. Despite the night being the end of an era, it felt good to me. It felt like we had celebrated the years past properly and that we would be moving on to new and better things.
But the spirit stays the same. So long as people love to play fighting games with each other, grassroots events like CCH will always be there.
Who’s to say that CCH won’t rise again if the community ever needs it just like when Chris created it back in 09/10 to have a place for the community to have console sessions?
But for now, thanks all you guys who came to CCH. You guys made the event what it was.