Going to any event especially gaming events will always give you some things to think back on afterwards. What could the event organizers have done to make the event better, which developers should have turned up and what games should have been on show. These conversations can last right up until the following years event. There are some things however that you can personally do to make your whole experience a more enjoyable event. I’ve been going to different events including EGX for a few years now and have thought about what can make my experiences better. With this in mind I decided to write down a few helpful tips and advice that maybe you can use to make any event you go to that much better.
- Taking photos of all the games, cosplayers, promotional stands etc will drain your battery fast and with limited chance to recharge its best to bring along a portable charger such as a powerbank. My powerbank charger is pretty good at warming up the table, my legs or anything else you might rest it on but it does a pretty poor job at recharging my phone or tablet. Time for an upgrade I think before my next event.
- Travel early but relax in the bar next to the NEC and avoid the deluge of thousands of over eager teenagers hyped up on skipping school and far too much redbull until the ticket queue has settled somewhat. You don’t have to have a beer while you wait but there is something rather satisfying about relaxing with a cold frosty pint while watching thousands of event goers race past all panicked because they might miss out on that extra 5 minutes. The bar also sells tea and coffee so if you want to be a good and wait before your first naughty beverage then this can still apply to you. If there are a few of you in a group why not play a quick game of something like Cards Against Humanity to get your juices flowing and your days enjoyment off to a great start.
- No matter how early you get into the event, you will be queuing for games for hours so don’t rush and wear comfy trainers. Fashion is all well and good but trust me, find a compromise for more comfy footwear. If nothing else, add a set of soft inners into your shoes. Your feet will thank you for it.
- If you are a game blogger, a journalist, a YouTube or twitch streamer then please listen closely. Do not arrive thinking you are gods gift or that you are a gaming legend and that you can push, shove, insult or generally act like a complete pr*$k, I can guarantee that no matter how good your ‘numbers’ are, there is someone far higher than you there and more to the point, its a gaming event for the overall community, enjoy the event and make it enjoyable for everyone else.
- No matter how fast you run or how many queues you try and jump, you will never get to see all the games on show in one day or come to think of it, all 4 days so don’t even try. If you are going for 1 day then pick 3-4 games you want to make your priority and head to 2 of them before lunch and 2 after. Don’t get caught up in queue after queue as you will miss out on so much of the event.
- If you are there for more than one day then take it from personal experience from both myself and Gareth, don’t party too hard the first night and end up a wasted mess with the hangover from hell the next. There’s nothing worse than trying to focus on a screen or act sensible and coordinated with a huge hangover. Party hard on the last night and take the following day off work! Oh and a word of advice, Vodka Tornadoes sound like a great idea at the time but the day after having a mix of hangover from the vodka and bodily vibrations from the Tornado makes for a strange and uncomfortable trip home……….if you are going to have to endure this then make sure the night before was worth it (over 18s only).
- If there is a particular game you want to go and see and especially if it is a major release from the likes of Sony or Microsoft then go straight to their booth and find out if you need to book an appointment or face being disappointed. It seems that these bigger developers and companies sometimes forget that us mere mortals might need that kind of information. Events like EGX do have an event app that can be downloaded on your iPhone or android device so maybe worth checking on there to see if the particular game or show needs to be booked in advance so as not to end up missing out.
- Don’t fill up on the energy drinks that get handed out during the event. It’s all well and good downing half a dozen in the first couple of hours but then you have to endure the torture of waiting in a 2 hour queue while needing to use the rest room or worse yet, having to dance back and forth to the rest room every half an hour and so not getting to see what you want and all because you couldn’t resist that 6th can of tornado.
- Take food with you. I know it means carrying stuff around which can be a pain but think of it this way, once it’s eaten there’s more room for swag and goodies. Plus the food at the NEC is insanely priced. It would be cheaper to buy a train ticket back into Birmingham, grab some food and then get the train back. The waiting time probably wouldn’t be much different either! I saw prices for basic foods at EGX that i could find 3-4x cheaper at other events. Don’t think you are paying for a better quality either because from experience I can say thats not really the case. If someone had the idea to put a reasonably priced burger van or rather a fleet of them outside the NEC then they would probably become very rich overnight!
- Take a day off work. EGX is a 4 day event running from Thursday to Sunday but it seems that far more people turn up on the Saturday and Sunday than the event can really handle. The queues become even longer, the games become crowded, the merchandise stalls run out of ‘normal’ sizes too quickly and you have far more chance of contracting that most dreaded of post event plagues, the conflu. If you are able to take a day off work or college (stay in school kids) then I would strongly advise heading down on the Thursday or Friday. That way you can maximize your time with the games, have less crowds to fight through and far less kids charging around thinking that just because they can double jump in a game then they can jump all around the event.
Finally, I think its important to remember to take in the whole atmosphere of the event. Its very easy to get caught up in rushing around and then heading back without actually taking in the whole events atmosphere. Step back for a second and look around. The organizers and developers both big and small go to great lengths to put together interesting and diverse stands, games, activities etc for you to enjoy if you give yourself the time to see them. Don’t forget to talk to people. If you are stuck in a line for a game for 2 hours or more then why not chat to the people around you, find out what they think of different games. Maybe they have seen something you haven’t, maybe they know where the best swag is (everyone likes a little swag). The same goes with the people running the event. Ask them about their games. Don’t just ask how much it will be when it comes out or how long until its released, ask about the character, the environment, the HUD, you might just find out something about a game that will draw you in even more.
Basically what I’m trying to say it enjoy yourself and get the most out of the event you can. EGX is a once a year event and each year is vastly different to take in as much of the experience as you can.
Photos in this article were taken from different EGX events over the past few years