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The PLAY Expo Experience

So, I went to PLAY Expo last weekend. It was meant to be my next big vlogging thing after the Disney World trip. Suffice to say it didn’t work out as expected and I learned some things from it in terms of vlogging in the future and the types of event I might eye up to visit in the future.

It was a success but probably for different reasons than I expected.

The PLAY Expo Experience

It seems that these ‘Expo’ and ‘Con’ experiences follow a similar format if my Newcastle Comic Con and PLAY Expo experiences are in anyway representative. You have a large hall and poured into that hall are various content areas (various retro games in PLAY Expo, guest signings at Comic Cons, etc), merchant stalls, guest talk areas, Cosplay areas and so on.

I guess the weird thing is they are in one hall. It makes it all very chaotic.

If I was to be honest, even though I read everything about the event, I didn’t expect it to be that much about retro games. It was ALL about retro games with a few throw ins for the current and future scene. One of the biggest areas was the pinball games, it was that retro. It was also funny saying the poor chubby guy with his jeans around his ass sweating around trying to keep the coin ups running.

The strange thing is I only played one game, a brief go on After Burner, and that was it. It was the Cosplay and talks that kept me interested, though in the case of the talks it was potentially what would have kept me interested.

I was interested in two talks. Ian Livingstone’s talk because he was involved in the original Tomb Raider, co-founder of the Fighting Fantasy books and one of the co-founders of Games Workshop. Regrettably he had to cancel because he was ill so that was talk number one down. The second talk I was interested in was the Tomb Raider panel as it was the games 20th Anniversary, but alas that conflicted with the Cosplay stuff, so I ditched that talk.

It was worth watching the Cosplay competition though, it was a mixture of cool, surreal, painfully emberrassing and interesting all at the same time. Enjoyed it, but it was certainly worth only going for one day. I’m not sure what would have kept me interested on the second day.

The Cosplay Fantastic

The cosplay was both fascinating and slightly disapointing at the same time. It was disapointing because I was wanting something a bit bigger scale, when in truth it was quite small scale. Interesting, but it was no Dragon Con for example.

It was interesting to compare it to the whole fancy dress thing we used to do back in the day. It was essentially Cosplay but it wasn’t called that and it wasn’t as big a pop culture thing. In fact it was a geek and nerdy thing to be slightly emberrassed about. How times change.

The way I sum it up is as follows.

There are still the emberrassing costumes that are just cringeworthy. These are a mixture of little effort being put in or the choice of costume just being very strange to the point it feels very uncomfortable.

There is still the very professional top end, but these have got much more numerous. Back in the day, every so often, there might be a someone who turned up in an awesome, elaborate and large scale costume that obviously cost thousands. Not you get a few of these or a handful of them.

What has changed significantly is how professional the middle tier has got, the equivalent of us back in the day, doing our best in our spare time. The costumes of these people are now absolutely fantastic. The effort, professionalism and artistery in their costumes is astounding. They are imaginative in what materials they use, skilled in how they cut, shape and ‘paint’ them so they look realistic. The best example was a Mercy costume which looked like it was made of leather, but it was a yoga mat. It looked fantastic.

The costumes we’d had were pretty good and well out of the emberrassing category but I really wish we had some of the costumes the amateurs do now, it would be amazing.

Total Vlogging Fail

Disappointingly, I had my first vlogging fail with PLAY Expo. I took the G7X and planned to vlog it exactly like I’d done while in Florida. It just didn’t work. The ambient noise in the Expo hall was just too much and the microphones on the G7X just couldn’t cope with it. You can hear my voice on the footage, but it’s competing just enough that I don’t believe I can upload it, which is unfortunate.

I’m was ambushed by this because the G7X happily met any challenge during my time in Florida, so I didn’t expect it to have a problem at PLAY Expo.

The other problem was the actual footage. It just didn’t seem that exciting. I think that is the risk I currently have with my vlogs, especially the ones were I visit places. I’m not sure I’ve mastered the way to make them feel…dynamic and exciting. It just all felt a bit lucklustre so when you combine that with the vlog bits being challenged by the background noice I was disapointed.

It’s all a learning experience, or that’s the way I’m trying to see it the moment.

Future Convention Experiences…

Coming out of PLAY Expo the big decision is whether I’d do anything like it again? Yes and no.

I wouldn’t do PLAY Expo again, not because I didn’t enoy it, but because I’ve done it. I’m not sure there would be enough experiences there that are repeatable. If there was a community of friends I was meeting up with I’d get it, but there isn’t so it relies on the Expo itself.

What it did tell us is the core of what these events contain is fun, I just probably want it on a bigger scale. PLAY Expo was in one large hall, I want to go to an event were that size of hall just fits in Blizzards and EA’s stands and then there are others halls exhibit halls, a specific hall for merchants and multiple rooms for talks, etc. I’d also like the event to be more based on current and new games rather than retro games.

I suspect these events are not in the UK and it would involve going to something in Europe and the US. There was brief talk of Gamescom as a potential event that might be an option while avoiding the ridiculous costs of travelling to the US.

That’s about as far as we got though, though it might happen.

About Ian O'Rourke

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