Ever wondered how close a group of people can get to an actual public circle-jerk without getting their actual penises out (and I do mean penises)?
Well then look no further than a videogames convention!
So, as someone who has been to many of these, it’s important to teach the next generation how to navigate these highlights of the gaming calendar.
The exhibition won’t technically start for a couple days but now that none of the publishers give a shit about doing conferences in the exhibition centres anymore, many will have coerced someone who should know better at their company that important things need to be done leading up to the pre-show press conferences, so landing 4 days early it is!
This isn’t a hard sell, most people who are in senior positions are seasoned creeps on the scene on all these trips, and those interns aren’t going to hit on themselves!
So what’s the plan? The next morning is press pass collection day so time to hit the streets and go for lunch. This is vital, without lunch you can’t justify billing your first beer on the company, this sort of tactical nous will serve you well if you stay alert to the possibilities.
Elsewhere other people will be blogging from their hotel room because it is important to publicly state how much more fun your life is than your audiences at every given moment, these people are wrong and should be avoided. If you’re having trouble spotting them you can listen for their tell tale bark of “hey guuuyyyysss”.
Press pass collection day, and for the fun people a terrible hangover as well. Unless you are a developer you’ll be staying somewhere that involves a taxi or public transport to the exhibition centre, luckily a trail of pale white cadavers tucking their boners in their belts will illuminate the path to the exhibition centre.
Following this is your first queue. In this queue will be a mix of everyone from journalists, competition winners, execs and guests all trying to get their pass sorted as quickly as possible. Of this gaggle of humanity some people will be very excited and take pictures and/or video blog about getting their pass. Again, these people are to be avoided.
Next is lunch, again remember to get that beer with your food then fill a bottle with table water. This is the perfect combo of expensing beer and not having to lop off one of your necessary limbs to pay for a bottle of water in the convention centre.
Now it’s time for conferences. These are unfathomably boring, and anyone who says otherwise is either lying to you or themselves.
Now that these don’t happen on the show floor, you’ll need to get cajoled on to a bus where 35 people will immediately get out Nintendo 3DS’s and ignore eachother. A good chance to sit near the PR people and have a conversation with a human, and possibly sort yourself out a more favourable interview slot for the next day.
Games press conferences are a confused and woefully un-volatile mix of corporate market strategy, suits and technical errors.
There will not be a single thing shown that you don’t know about, and if you don’t know about it then it will be a reveal of such tedium that it may alter your perception of space and time. That could also be marijuana, drivers found on a popular app are a good bet to help you partake in such activities in countries or states with more liberal views on the possession of narcotics.
Shit drinks and some sliders will follow the end of the conference outside while everyone networks.
These events are organised and run by people whose job it is to organise and run these sorts of events for anything.
In every other walk of life this is a chance to wonder round and talk to new people, but this is a gaming event so socialising is kept strictly to a few groups between themselves, so while they tell each other how brilliant they think they are, the nice people will be on the periphery. Talk to these people.
And don’t hit on anyone, have some decorum.
First main day of the conference. Depending on your role you are about to spend the next 10 hours trapped in a warehouse full of teenage boys, suits, coffee and a collective hubris that is hard to fathom but easy to spot.
For wielders of cameras this is a minefield of people with hot drinks and kicky feet so keep an eye out.
If you are going to interview people on your own please don’t set up a tripod and point it straight at you and the interviewee talking. You aren’t the interesting thing there, and two people in profile looks fucking awful. Just a quick tip.
Now you basically bounce around between booths waiting for presentations where they show you the same thing you’ve already seen but in a louder room.
These are dull as shit, unless something insane happens you should already know what you’re asking in your interview.
Unless it was a Witcher 3 presentation, these clocked at around 3 days but they actually played some of the game you hadn’t seen and gave you beer. Almost a shame the game is actually out now.
Now comes the first proper night out. You’ve probably bumped into some people who are doing a thing involving a PR or games company putting on a do.
On the enjoyability-spectrum, these range from “Ditch Full of Wank” to “Wolf of Wall Street”, somewhere in the middle is usually the best unless you can blag some VIP treatment, but then you will have to walk around a nightclub holding a bag. This will signify you are a bit of a twat.
See Day 3.
The final day. This usually involves picking up the last dregs of interviews but really this will simply be a steady stream of people leaving for flights. At this point you should be very hungover, with a flight to catch the best thing to do is pack your shit, go to the hotel bar and have a beer, ideally at about 10am. This will allow you to gently ramp out of your hangover and stick the landing.
When you’re at the airport get a ludicrously priced breakfast and another beer, charge it to the company because you’re in this now you might as well see it through.
Once on the plane you’ll find those two beers and greatly reduced hangover will help you get a bit of nap time on the flight. If you’re struggling then get a gin and tonic. If it’s a short flight avoid the plane food like it’s a severed head.
Always book the next day off to recover, if you power through and drop footage off etc, then your apparent willingness to finish the job will often lead to sympathy from co-workers and management, and a free afternoon off for such courageous commitment may follow.
And there it is. Use this guide and reap the rewards.