Hey Game fans, we’re back with our first article post Gen Con. I wish this was the fantastic article about how much of an institution Gamer’s Live is (and it is), or the wonderful internet friends that became face to face friends. However, this isn’t going to be those articles. Today i’m going to talk about my personal experiences and those of the family that went on the trip. I usually spend a lot of time in the exhibitor’s hall, because it’s where you can see new companies and new game ideas. This year’s experience was the worst i’ve ever had in 8 years of attending Gen Con, and i will seriously have to rethink this approach for the future.
So what’s wrong with the Exhibitor’s Hall? A lot of structural things. First, aside from a few specific booths, they rarely have enough actual space to bring visitors into the booth which means they are clogging aisles. The booths that i visited that did this very well were Helvetiq, Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, Warcradle Studios among others. I am not including Paizo, or Fantasy Flight games because those booths were so jam packed with people that getting through them to even see the products felt like a fool’s errand. Overall, this means that people visiting booths are being pushed out into the traffic flow and create obstructions to the steady flow of traffic.
The traffic itself is another disaster waiting to happen. The pathways between booths are almost large enough for people to walk single file in both directions (unless someone is in a wheelchair or other transportation device). However, the first time someone in the flow of traffic stops to look at a booth, then the traffic plan turns into a 12 car pile up for a few minutes while everyone adjusts to the change in circumstance.
Third, the layout is a trainwreck, and unless you’ve either navigated the hall before or have pictures of exactly where the booth you are looking for is, you are going to have a hell of a time finding any given booth. I spent three days looking for the Magpies Booth so i could pick up Masks. I had the map, but the map doesn’t translate well into three dimensional space, and it’s almost impossible to see anything at a distance. You are literally going to end up walking in circles trying to find the booth you are looking for.
The Hall is also poorly climate controlled. When you can step outside the hall and immediately notice at least a 5 degree difference in temperature, there’s a problem. I overheat quickly and stay that way for quite a while. At two different points in the convention the event staff asked if i needed medical assistance because of how bad i looked. On a similar note, would it kill you to actually put chairs and benches in the concourses so that people who are having problems can sit down on a chair instead of sitting on the floor and then trying to find a way to stand up later? There are massive spaces along both walls of the concourses where rows of chairs could be setup to make life easier on people.
My last irritation of the Hall was something that i wish were not the case. The other attendees were a contributing factor to my hesitation to do one of these again. To the attendee who hit my brother and my niece almost hard enough to knock them off their feet to push into the exhibitor’s hall, Fuck you and everyone you know. To the attendees who decided that personal space was a suggestion and decided that crowding into the space a person was already clearly occupying, thanks for contributing to the heat stroke i’ve been recovering from since Sunday night. You have the choice to be civil humans since we’re all there to share the same experiences and most of you behaved like spectacularly shitty human being for the con.
I will seriously have to reconsider if i spend an extended stretch of time in the exhibitor’s hall as it sits again. The stress and the combination of other factors make it a nightmarish task for me, and i went to have fun, do some shopping, and see some friends. Gen Con can do better and so can the attendees. I like to think my community is generally a good one, but this convention experience shook that a little. I’ll have more updates on some things i picked up and other things down the line, but this is my first blush feeling about the Con. It’s ugly.