This weekend was the Eurogamer Expo 2011 at London's Earls Court. The event ran from Thursday to Sunday and I made my visit yesterday between 2pm and 7pm. It was the first time that I have been to such an event and for the experience I am a little the wiser and more prepared for next year (to which I am definitely going to attend). So sit back, grab a beer and listen to my top tips to making the most out of one of these events.
Whilst this may seem obvious it is something not to be underestimated. On arriving at 1:20pm to Earls Court the queue for the afternoon attendees was already pretty long. Doors open dead on the hour of admittance and getting through the registration is a breeze, so the sooner you arrive to queue, the sooner you can peg it to the game of your choice. The most popular games all had queue systems in place and some of these were in excess of an hour long to wait in. Getting in line and inside as early as possible will give you the best chance to get hands on with your highest priority AAA title.
Always know what is on as best you can. All the biggest games are announced ahead of these events, and a floor plan prepared. You can guarantee that if you don't decide what is your Alpha target ahead of entry, and know where it is roughly located you will end up looking around to decide what is worthy of your time whilst that one queue you decide on continues to grow exponentially.
It also helps to see if any competitions are being run by the Expo. This year there was an option to go in cosplay in order to win a PSVita with judging done by Nathan Drake himself, Mr Nolan North. Whilst not the overall winner I had fun making my costume (YouTube link to follow in later blog) and was given an exclusive note book, personalised and signed by Nolan. He also signed my action shots from the costume creation (again - later blog to follow). Knowing what is on ahead of time will make your day so much better.
8 hours seems like a long time (and can be when it is spent in tedium at work), however with interesting developer sessions, long queues and the need to have sustenance (geeks don't get fat by not eating) those hours can fly by if you decide to do a lot of top class activities. I attended an Uncharted 3 developer session and was lucky enough to be ushered in... Because I was competing in cos-play. Had I not been ushered, the session and queue would have eaten 1.5 hours of my time. I didn't do a lot of queuing and still managed to enjoy RAGE, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and OnLive... However in 5 hours of visiting that doesn't equate to a lot of hands on time when etiquette dictates that 10 minutes is acceptable, 15 is ample, and 20 is pushing it... Be mindful of this and even if mid game be prepared to offer up your controller. Be prepared to watch a lot and not play everything unless going more than once.
Expos can be all about the swag. The best way to get this is to follow the event feed on Twitter or any Community Managers on the scene (@kleaneasy, @shade360, @EA_ActionMan & @Actonpies were my best discoveries). Anything that is Tweet worthy coming out from these feeds will be retweeted by the Expo and having mobile notifications will make things very easy. Exits are also a good place to be given parting gifts... This event provided me with 10 packets of Chili Heatwave Dorritos
As well as swag there are some useful feeds that come out from the Expo feed itself and getting questions answered is almost instant from their feed administrator. The world is becoming better connected through these services and they are incredibly useful. Also a good QR scanner is good for collecting links throughout the day to exclusive offers and trailers.
Games are about having fun. Don't go and expect to be given any special treatment, be prepared to feel like a sheep and find blank expressions if asking complex questions from those at the stands. A lot of these people with STAFF on their shirts are volunteers. As for feeling like sheep, the main idea behind these events is to get as many people to play the game as possible in order to draw in extra interest in the product - so you will be herded through areas and expected to move when the shepherds tell you. Big games will be time limited or have restrictions on options and many of the highly anticipated will be run like well oiled machines with sessions run to the second and reset after each sitting. Skyrim was the latter, whilst Modern Warfare 3 offered up Multiplayer only. Thankfully Battlefield 3 had both Single and Multiplayer on offer, even if it was limited with regard to inversion.
That finishes my tips for attending Expos, and how to enjoy it from personal experience. I was looking forward to many games on display already, and Eurogamer Expo 2011 has done nothing to change those views... games that I got hands on time with were excellent and I am anticipating my pre-orders all the more.
It was disappointing that I didn't get to play everything I would have liked, and that it was only multiplayer on offer from Modern Warfare 3. In all however I certainly got the bug and will be a repeat attendee.
sent from iPhone
2 days ago