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Head shaving and the Bass-O-Matic
At QuakeCon, there's little folks won't do for a video card or laptop.
August 15, 2005: 11:14 AM EDT
Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris
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Computer gamers compete for prizes at the 10th annual QuakeCon.
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DALLAS (CNN/Money) - It started out with two women shaving their heads. By the time the afternoon was over, people had consumed whole sticks of butter, danced the Macarena for over an hour and consumed one of the nastiest milkshakes ever conceived.

You have to give nVidia credit. When it wants to make an impression with a new product launch, it doesn't go about it half-cocked. To celebrate the launch of its new GeForce 7800 GT video card, the company held a "Fear Factor"-like competition at this year's QuakeCon, an annual gathering of enthusiast action gamers.

There were no power point presentations. There were no corporate executives droning on about the advantages of their product over the competition. The afternoon started with a call for women in the audience who were willing to have their head shaved for an older video card, which carries a retail price of $170. Two women leapt at the opportunity.

"It's hair; it grows back," said newly shorn, 21-year old contestant Teresa Holt.

As the stakes went higher, so did the dares. For a $300 GeForce 6800 GT card (released last year), four competitors agreed to eat popsicles made of butter. Only one won the card – and he quickly agreed to gobble down another stick for a second card.

That guy might have gotten off easy compared to the fellow who snarfed down the majority of a grapefruit-sized onion in a short amount of time, earning him a $550 video card.

For a similar card, one male fan agreed to shave his legs. Not a fun task to begin with, but in his excitement to claim another of those $550 cards, he neglected to pour any water on his legs, simply lathering them up quickly (and poorly) and then running the razor against the grain. It hurt to watch, folks. A lot.

"We were trying to come up with something unique," said nVidia spokesperson Derek Perez. "We've launched so many products that we were starting to do the same thing over and over. The 'corporate' way of launching a card, albeit effective, wouldn't work again."

Among the discarded ideas were having contestants drink a 16 ounce glass of mayonnaise or seeing how many cow eyeballs they could hold in their mouth.

"We backed off of those for obvious reasons," said Perez, who added he believed this might become an annual event for the company. Ah, but participants hardly got off easy. There were contests to see how many marshmallows people could stuff in their mouths (21 was the max), people eating live worms (which they went out and bought themselves, then asked to be allowed on stage to participate) and a battle for the best nerd pickup line (winner: "Excuse me, does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"). But the truly gross stuff came at the end.

The prize was a Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop – retail value $1700. The competitor hopped on stage and was told in order to walk away with it under his arm, he would have to a) pluck one of his eyebrows out with a pair of tweezers, then b) get a reverse Mohawk shaved into his head. He never hesitated and the eyebrow was history in under two minutes as the crowd cheered and cringed simultaneously. (An nVidia spokesperson later told me the contestant later confessed to working at a bank. Should be an interesting Monday at that branch.)

Then there was the milkshake... For another Inspiron, nVidia and Dell pulled out the Bass-O-Matic, a blender which was filled with fish, Redi-Whip, milk and Louisiana hot sauce. Once blended into a chunky, pinkish paste, it was topped with more whipped cream and (natch) a cherry.

The first contestant, arguably the wisest of the evening, decided he didn't want the laptop that bad. A second leapt on stage and began drinking, though. It took him a little while, but he finished the drink, won the laptop and quickly became one of the heroes of this crowd, if only for a day.

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Don't know about QuakeCon? Click here.

Morris is Director of Content Development for CNN/Money. Click here to send him an e-mail.  Top of page

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