Chris has already posted his thoughts on Dublin GamerCon, make sure to read that here. Now that it’s been nearly a week, I feel it’s time to offer a second, more considered opinion. Written away from the emotion of the time, from a balanced, fair perspective, I present to you my account of events; Chris was right, it was shit.
Ireland has never had a large gaming convention before, and after the events of this past weekend, it’s going to take a lot of convincing before it has one again
GamerCon was held in the National Convention Centre, Dublin, over St Patrick’s day weekend, a bank holiday weekend. It had a sellout crowd coming, gaming enthusiasts, cosplayers and YouTubers alike. And it wasn’t prepared. At all.
You expect a queue for these things, that’s fair enough. For me personally the 45 minute wait to get into the Convention Centre wasn’t too tedious. For the two full bladdered man-children with me who had to pee, the wait was a little more arduous.
We did eventually get in (which wasn’t the case for everyone, but I’ll get to that), and once the toilets had been located, and the man-children relieved, we began to explore the event.
The main floor of the event was pretty cool, there were gaming zones where you could play the latest console and PC games. I had hoped these would be LAN multiplayer games but it was mainly people playing solo. There was even a retro gaming zone which in retrospect(see what I did there?) was probably my favourite part of the entire event. Chris managed to find a neglected Lara Croft among the crowds.
There were some expos from Xbox and PlayStation which were cool, but busy. PSVR was there, but after the queue getting in we weren’t bothered with queuing again for it. We did get a good look of Horizon Zero Dawn in all its HDR glory. Surprisingly there was no sign of the recently released Nintendo Switch. Like, at all.
There were some cosplayers walking around taking pictures too, including a Marcus Fenix after some nasty plastic surgery. The main floor was pretty cool, but nothing mind blowing, so we were interested to see what else the convention had on offer. And then we started to notice the problems.
There was a maul of people waiting at the escalator to go upstairs, staff were only allowing people up in groups. We waited maybe 5 minutes in this mess of bodies before being told that there was a stairwell we could use instead. Then we waited another 15 minutes at the stairwell. The staffer there want letting people up yet, so we ditched that line and went for the elevator, which the staff must have forgotten about.
As we waited for the elevator (a lot of fucking waiting so far, eh?) I spotted one of the people who had been a little behind us in the queue to get into the building. At this point we had been in for over an hour, yet this person was still waiting at the door to get it. Something wasn’t right.
Upstairs there were more queues, massive queues, for the VIP ticket holders to meet YouTubers. We went up another level, to see the e-sports, no queues here, but people were sitting on the floor to watch due to a lack of seats.
Another floor up and we found an auditorium, we just took a seat because we were tired of walking around at this point. Some YouTubers were about to come on, so we figured we’d stay for that. Well they were late out, and really the whole thing was lackluster. There was no real show, the host just asked them questions, and then the audience asked them questions. Then finally they played a game on the massive screen, but even then the video was out of sync with the audio. We left the auditorium.
I was hungry and wanted some food, but there were queues for days. For days! We used one cosplayer as a reference for how fast the queue was moving. After ten minutes, it hadn’t moved at all, so we went back to the main floor, the only redeeming factor about the convention so far.
It’s about now that we realised just how bad the situation was. I got a notification on the official GamerCon app, informing all the people still in the queue to get into the building that they could leave now and receive a refund. We checked the queues outside, they were just as long as they had been when we entered that morning. People were waiting at the door to be let in. What the hell was going on?
Turns out when you sell 12,000 tickets for a venue with a capacity of 9,400, you end up with hundreds of people lined up outside in the rain, a lot of then families with children.
The rest of our time at GamerCon was spent in around the main floor and waiting for food. Oh yeah, the food. The event organizers couldn’t even cater the 9,400 people they actually let into the building. We spent 40 minutes queueing for the ‘hot food’ that was advertised, because they ran out of hot food!
If you fancied natchos, you were set, because they took that stuff out by the fucking truckload, while a line of 50 stood waiting for burgers. When the burgers did come, after 40 minutes, we spent another 10 minutes waiting on baps. It was a hot mess, and you got pleasure of paying ten euro to wait in line for 50 minutes for a burger and a drink. Oh, and our cosplayer reference was lined up for over an hour and a half before getting served.
Had we realised the extent of the queues outside,we would have forgot about the food and just left, because people were asking others to leave the venue just so they could get inside.
We did leave shortly after the food, rather underwhelmed with the whole occasion. I felt bad for the people still waiting to get it. The event really isn’t worth that kind of wait. It’s worse still for the children who had their hearts set on attending and couldn’t.
I only hope that the second day was better handled than the first, for the benefit of the ticket holders. If GamerCon is serious about coming back to Dublin, it has some big issues to sort out, and people deserve a lot more than an apology from the event organizers.
3/10, would not bang