Eoin Livingston reports from the inaugural GamerCon event at the Convention Centre, Dublin.
GamerCon is a new event whose first convention has been marred by a variety of controversies. The largest of these was the unmanaged, extraordinarily long and even dangerous queues that many ticket holders got caught up in – only for many of them to be turned away at the door. For those who were able to get in, the event turned out to be a very fun day for people of all ages. However, this does not diminish the scale of the mismanagement that left many of the 26,000 ticket holders (according to exhibitioners Trust Gaming) unable to enter the event, which had a much lower real maximum capacity of between 5000-7000.
Inside, the majority of the focus was on the ground floor. On this floor there was four sections: the main hall with exhibition booths, and three gaming set-ups where anyone could sit down and play. The first consisted of retro consoles charmingly set up with old CRT’s that were available at the time, capturing the true retro experience. The second section consisted of PC’s set up exclusively to play Minecraft, and the third was made up of Xbox Ones and Ps4s set up to play a variety of games, from FIFA and Uncharted to Gears of War and Call of Duty.
The gaming sections were packed with players enjoying the chance to take a break from the hectic event. The Minecraft section in particular was filled with children explaining the mechanics and basics of the popular game to their parents. The retro section, on the other hand, was full of parents explaining the games of their youth to their kids.
Many of the exhibitioners had elaborate computer set-ups, with everything from Rocket League played in the back seat of a car, to Overwatch games in a little cube. Most of these served as tech demos and advertisements. The two highlights were the unusual gaming vehicles provided by Trust Gaming and Razer. Trust Gaming had a truck with four way Rocket League in the back seats and two FIFA screens in the back. The novelty of the truck was only heightened by the fact that the event team drove it all the way to the convention from the Netherlands. The Razer bus was a similar affair, but with even more screens and a much longer line.
The rest of the event took place upstairs, with one floor dedicated to competitive gaming, and the rest dedicated to niche events. In the competitive section, players had the chance to play League of Legends or CS:GO, and to watch the commentated games in the competition. The competition was fierce, with sponsors Trust Gaming hinting that they were considering picking up some of the teams. Like most of the event, this section had significant management issues, with massive understaffing leading to several controllers being stolen when I was there.
The main draw of the convention was the cosplay competition and the famous Youtubers present. AR12, Minevengers, Little Kelly, Little Carly, Ali-A, Clare Siobhan, Jeromeasf and Uberdanger hosted lengthy signing sessions along with discussion panels and meet and greets. Many of the Youtubers decided to try and make it up to their disgruntled fans with extended signing sessions, going out to the people in line or holding extra sessions outside the convention centre. The Youtubers pretty unanimously valued the event as an opportunity to meet and interact with their fans, and the fans had ample opportunity to talk to them.
The cosplay competition was judged by famous Irish cosplayers Pixie Styxx and Tendai Muzwidzwa, both of whom were in stunning costumes throughout the two days. Between them, they offered fans and media excellent insight into the culture of cosplay, as well as the process through which they judged the competition. Split into four categories to allow a wide variety of talent and work, contestants were judged on the originality of their costume, their stage presence and the quality of the costume itself. The competition brought some amazing cosplays to the event, with the overall winner overall being an impressive gigantic dragon costume, from Obsidian Dragon. The show floor would have been dull and lifeless were it not for the cosplay competition. The throngs of people laughing with, gaping in awe of or taking pictures of the cosplayers really brought the event to life.
While the controversy surrounding the mismanagement of GamerCon has been widely reported, the event did a lot of things very well. Uberdanger described it as a typical first year con: lots of mistakes, but plenty of promise on which to build for better events in future. It is a shame that the convention left many fans disappointed, but those that managed to make it into the event got a great experience that they are unlikely to forget. Hopefully more people can benefit from it next year.