I’m done. It’s over. Three days of EB Expo. If you have told me Friday morning that I’d still be at the Expo on Sunday, I wouldn’t have believed you. Between you and I’d had enough by 11:00 on Friday morning.
The combination of a lot less coffee than usual, an early start, the whole “Gamethirst” nametag thing and the, sadly, lacklustre Master Chief unveiling at the crack of dawn was enough for me to prematurely label the entire expo a bit shit.
And then the bloody cosplay folks rolled in.
I’ve spent my entire life defending my interests in sci-fi, comic books and video game. I’ve tried to convince folks with raised eyebrows that it is OK to continue to read comic books beyond your teens, that sci-fi is a legitimate form of storytelling and that video games do not turn you insane. The western adoption of the Japanese cosplay fad flies in the face of all that. Some of those cosplayers over the weekend were, without a doubt, in need of medication (some of them were most probably self-medicated anyway). Some folks can get away with dressing up as their favourite character, unfortunately, most cosplayers cannot.
Thankfully, as Friday wore on, my mood mellowed and I was able to take in some of the great stuff on show. I also got to meet up with a few cool PR guys that I only knew via email, which was nice. Time for a grinning shout out to EA, Ubi, 2K, Mindscape and Namco Bandai for listening to me screaming gibberish at them over the ambient sound of the show.
Saturday, whilst busier, seemed to have a bit more atmosphere. I got the change to check out some pretty cool EB Live sessions in the main arena.
Sunday morning found me nursing a nasty sore throat (from all that shouting), but that didn’t stop me from getting in the car for the half-hour drive to Sydney Olympic park. The show floor was most definitely quieter that the Saturday session. But still there were horrendous queues for everything.
I’d already pretty-much gotten around most of what I wanted to see; some of which I’d already had a go on in exclusive press sessions in the weeks running up to the expo. What did piss me was that press access to take a look at some games very much depended on the relationship with the publishers. Whilst some publishers were fine with me sneaking in for a few photos or to take notes, others (mainly those guarded by EB Games store clerks) wanted me to queue up for hours. That wasn’t going to happen I’m promoting your products here, guys. Regardless of that gripe (it is a consumer show, after all), from an organisational point of view, I think EB Games did bloody well. At no point did I feel like the event was oversubscribed. I’ve been to conventions were the attendees has been packed in so tight, it’s obscene (Armageddon, The Edge, Auckland). The EB Expo was always well within capacity. The arena sometimes got a bit packed, though. I was annoyed that the media seating in the arena wasn’t policed, but I still got to sit down, so no harm, no foul.
There are still some issues that need to be sorted out for next itme. The queues for the hands-on sessions were ridiculous. Nobody should have to queue up for two hours for ten minutes with a game that’ll be out in a month or two (nobody should actually want to queue up for two hours to play a game for ten minutes, either). Also, too many of those hands-on sessions were obscured for the public gaze. Why? Let passers-by take a look at the game, they may want to check it out; it wouldn’t hurt.
A quick look at the programme reveals that the EB Expo isn’t really a three day show. It’s a half day show that is repeated three times on Friday and Saturday, and once on Sunday. Whilst the quality of the EB Live presentations was top, there weren’t many of them. I can see this improving in the future as publishers see the value in the expo. Personally I’d sooner watch an exciting live demo of up to date work-in-progress code than stumble through old code left over from the last big show.
Also, what about panels? Get more guests and put them on panels. It would be great to see things like ABC’s “Good Game” live. This is only EB Expo’s second time out and on the whole it was very good, but the expo needs more things for folks to do. The posted arena session were too long and lumped together different subject matter. For instance, on Sunday from 11:30 to 1:20 EB Live Session two featured Navy Big Game, Medal of Honor, Xbox Live and Farcry 3; what time is the Xbox Live session if I don’t want to sit through the rest? They need more than one presentation venue to get folks off the show floor; like other conventions.
There were times when I felt “too old for this shit”; like when all the grinning spotting dorks and middle-aged child molesters were declaring “I am a gamer” on the video screens at the expo opening. Fuck that. I player video games, but I’m most certainly not a gamer if I am going to lumped in with them.
So what did I see? I saw Farcry 3, Assassin’s Creed III, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Crysis 3, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution, Aliens: Colonial Marines, XCOM and a load of other stuff. My next job is to translate my hastily written notes into something meaningful so I can come back and tell you about it.