entered, had the use of a large
ballroom to handle the SRO
crowds, lights, sound system, the
whole nine yards. It was obvious
that we had hit on something.
"As we went along, we've
changed weight classes, adapted to
changing technology, moved to
ever large venues, and spread out
to other conventions around the
country (including back in Denver
for several years). Currently, we
hold events in Chattanooga,
Nashville, as well as Atlanta, and
may be returning to Orlando after a
two year absence.
"But even with all the changes
and growth, we've stayed as true to
the spirit of the original rules and
vision as possible."
Aside from its long history,
Robot Battles at Dragon*Con is
unique in other ways. Unlike most
robot combat events that take
place in an enclosed arena, the
bots at Robot Battles compete in
an open air arena.
As a result, the competition is
less about "the high energy whirrrrr-bang aspects of conventional
tournaments" and more about
"strategy, driving, and at times,
straight up weirdness," competitor
Charles Guan said. This all makes
for a very good spectator sport — a
fact that the competitors happily
embrace. "People regularly come up
on stage in costume, or the robots
look ludicrous themselves. My
favorite in recent years was a very
well driven and solid wedge robot
that was coated in brown fur and
made to look like a beaver."
ADVICE AND TIPS FROM A COMBAT VETERAN
Charles Guan offers this advice to people considering competing in Robot Battles (or any robot
combat event) for the first time:
"I encourage everyone who is thinking of entering a robot or interested in getting their feet wet in
engineering hobbies to come and watch a competition.Once you experience the competition firsthand
and talk to the builders and see the robots, you are far more likely to pick up and do it.
Viewing robot competitions over the Internet or hearing about it from friends, people often get
discouraged because they think it's above their level or their ability. There is no place where this is more
untrue than at a Robot Battles event — many winners in the past have been children or teens, some with
their first and second robots. Once you finish your first contraption, I sincerely recommend driving it as
often as you can. Get to know how your machine moves, because having a cool weapon is only half of the
equation — keeping your robot moving and avoiding (or attacking) the opponent is the other.
Finally, when you get to the event, don't stress out. Relax, talk to fellow builders, introduce yourself,
and spend some time practicing on the stage before the match starts. Remember that you are being
watched by the audience just as much as the robot is. Some people get stage fright and stress out during
the match, and that leads to poor performance and often hurt prides.
And no matter what, even if you don't win — especially if you don't win — always think of how you can
learn from the experience, whether it is a new robot design, knowing what to fix for next time, or just from
picking other builder’s brains about how they accomplished something."
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