My hat’s off to the organizers and programmers for the 2014 GameStop Expo convention. After toiling through WonderCon, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and San Diego Comic-Con for the past several months, the GameStop Expo provided a welcome change. The convention was very well organized and was not filled beyond capacity. So, I had more time to do what I went there to do–play video games. Many gaming conventions could take a few cues from the GameStop Expo.
E3 is a big event, but even the Los Angeles Convention Center is having trouble containing it these days. The same goes for the San Diego Convention Center, the venue for the San Diego Comic-Con. Comic-Con International has allowed SDCC to grow out of control. The San Diego Convention Center can no longer hold Comic-Con. There is absolutely no more room. Lines are out of control. You spend more time waiting in line and stressing out over getting into events at Comic-Con than using that time to actually have fun attending panels. Comic-Con International’s attempt at helping the line mess this year was through pointless wristbands. A new system that was an absolute joke.
GameStop Expo had a good amount of attendees; yet there was actually breathing room on the convention floor. The show floor was spread out very well, so no worries about getting smooshed and trampled. So, instead of spending hours and hours waiting in line, attendees could actually go up to a publisher’s booth and *gasp*…play video games!
Similarly, E3 is now out of control with attendees and scheduling. After making early appointments with a major publisher this year, I was told by representatives there were not enough stickers for me to use to attend behind-closed-door previews, despite my making appointments ahead of time. Thankfully, the representatives allowed me to see the previews, where there was still space and additional seats even after I entered the rooms. However, I was only allowed into some of those events after a great deal of persistence and negotiating.
The GameStop Expo was free of such issues and nonsense. I was not forced to assertively persist to PR reps to check out a demo. While E3 and Comic-Con teased a lot of new and exciting games, they were teases I was unable to actually play. At the GameStop Expo, I finally had the chance to play Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, WWE 2K15 and Mortal Kombat X. It is one thing to see some fancy behind-closed-doors preview; but the ultimate goal is actually try out the game to see how well it plays. The GameStop Expo definitely catered to that sensibility, which I clearly prefer.
Initially, I was skeptical about whether major publishers and developers would be represented and involved with the convention. I knew that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Halo 2 from The Master Chief Collection would be on the show floor, but I was not sure about others. I was quite pleasantly surprised about the availability of games to play.
Major conventions could learn a thing or two from the GameStop Expo regarding how to run a convention that is actually fun that does not make you feel like Cary Elwes in Saw. The convention was a welcome change from the general insanity and chaos for E3 and San Diego Comic-Con. I only wish it was more than one day, so I could have spent more time playing games in Anaheim.