Writer: Jose”Poch” Mendoza, Esq.

What do you call six-thousand geeks and gamers stuffed in two huge airplane hangers in Playa Del Rey just below the Loyola Marymount University sign?  You call them the fortunate attendees of the first ever Call of Duty XP Event convention devoted to the game’s past, present and future.

It was inevitable that Call of Duty, one of the world’s most popular gaming franchises would host its own convention. Call of Duty‘s strength in multiplayer makes a public gathering a natural fit, but Call of Duty XP offered more than just a place for strangers and friends alike to meet and compete in game; it was the debut venue for Modern Warfare 3‘s multiplayer reveal, host to a $1 million tournament. numerous military-themed activities and two concerts.   The event was held on September 2 and 3.  Tickets to the Call of Duty blowout went for $150 each, with all proceeds going to benefit the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit organization founded by Activision to help soldiers transition to civilian life with job placement and training programs.  The $150 price tag gave attendees access to two fun-filled days of action and a goodie back filled with a code to redeem the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition when it releases in November 2011.

In one of the giant hangers there were hundreds of Xbox 360 consoles featuring early Modern Warfare 3 access, tournaments big and small and even a chance to play older titles Call of Duty: World at War and the original Modern Warfare.   Each night was topped off with performances from Dropkick Murphys and Kanye West.

One of the highlights of Call of Duty XP was a Modern Warfare 3 tournament featuring the world’s best teams competing for cash prizes amounting to $1 million, with the winning team taking home a staggering $400,000 between them.  After two days of heated competition, the finals saw UK team Til Infinity square off against US side Optic Gaming.  In a hard fought match, the Optic Gaming team was the victor.

Up for grabs throughout the weekend were uniform patches, earned for completing every activity at Call of Duty XP, whether it was braving the zip-line or simply browsing through the Armory. Much like the series itself, it meant that the expo had its own little meta-game that rewarded attendees for trying out different activities.  Nilo and I were part of a four-man Elite Team on a mission to kill the other four-man team in a death match based on the map from the current Call of Duty:  Black Ops.  We successfully eliminated the other players and moved on to succeeding rounds until we were ultimately out-gunned by a group of hardcore Zombies!

One the biggest draws at Call of Duty XP was the recreation of the Scrapyard map, an arena from Modern Warfare 2 that was packed with warehouses and plane parts. Attendees played paintball with the Domination match type, which was won by raising the most amount of flags littered throughout the map. Due to its popularity matches were short but sweet, and as paintball matches usually are, rather bruise-inducing.

As well as a real-life version of the Scrapyard map, attendees could personally run The Pit, the training and marksman area from the opening area of Modern Warfare 2. While it was also not a complete match for the in-game version it was a closer approximation than the Scrapyard reaction was. Players had to sprint around the circuit and shoot targets with a paintball gun, with speed and accuracy taken into account for the final score.

Call of Duty XP hosted a bunch of other military-themed activities outside the hangers including hands-on sessions and real-world recreations. A zip-wire had attendees glide just outside The Pit area of the complex, buddies could don fan suits for a spot of ‘Juggernaut Sumo’, and when you needed a breather, the Armory opposite was fleshed out with real versions of the weapons featured across the Call of Duty franchise.

The most adrenaline-filled of the bunch was a Jeep experience that had people taken outside of the complex and take part in a loud, explosion-filled extraction, where soldiers pull you out of the jeep and through a enemy-filled complex to safety. And when you needed some grub, the Burger Town restaurant that played a part in Modern Warfare 2‘s infamous invasion scenes was available.

After everyone was treated to see the final $400,000 tournament, the attendees were astounded  by a live concert by Kanye West to close the Call of Duty XP event.  Kanye’s nearly 2 hour performance was filled with all of his popular hits including Gold Digger, All The Lights, The One, Good Life, and Stronger.  Kanye killed it capping off the very successful weekend!

The diverse array of activities gave the feeling that the expo was, at times, more of a Call of Duty theme park than a traditional gaming expo, and helped to provide a welcome balance with the more serious, competitive activities situated inside the main halls. Whether you were there for early access to Modern Warfare 3, there to witness some of the best players compete or to simply celebrate the franchise, Call of Duty XP offered something for everyone.  There is no doubt in this author’s heart that when MW3 is released in November it will instantly out sell the other previous versions.  The real question is not, but when will

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