Opinion – Trading & Saving: My EB Expo Experience

I have a problem with conventions. Not so much the general concept, but pop-culture expos don’t interest or excite me, even in the slightest. Most of it has to do with the fact that they focus on TV shows or comic books that I either haven’t quite gotten in to or care to get in to. Granted, I do enjoy the social elements of it all, as well as the cosplay side, but generally it takes a lot for me to go to a convention.

It was like this last year when EB Games had announced it was taking its yearly trade show public and branding it “EB Expo”. It was quite easy to mock it all, what with the whole “trade and save” thing that they are known for, not to mention some overly expensive ticketing prices and just a real shady kind of feel to it all. So I sat it out, mostly because I didn’t think it was going to go well.

But after hearing that it actually went legitimately well, I immediately promised myself I wouldn’t sit out the next one.

Even before the expo started, the city was already full of life and the nerd spirit that was sure to take over the weekend. Aside from seeing quite a few bus ads for games like Playstation All-Stars and Assassins Creed III, I happened to run into a person giving me an advert for an upcoming circus. I wouldn’t have written about this if the person hadn’t been wearing a home-made Clone Trooper outfit.

But as for the Expo itself, it was exactly what had been told to me last year: It was a legitimately well run gaming expo.

What really took me was the overall level of participation. Literally every part of the Expo was packed with people wanting to check it out — some quite surprising, some not so. Among the high-queuing games were Halo 4, Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III — all of which chalked up queues of around two hours each on all three days. Even the EB Games Megastore had surprisingly long lines; lining up to get into a store is an insanely baffling concept to me.

Not everyone was as taken with waiting though. Waltzing past the ZombiU area at the Ubisoft booth, someone had taken their frustrations out on the sign informing of the wait time by letting others know that they weren’t happy with paying $40 for a four hour wait on the game. I never saw a four hour sign for any other game, and I wish I could’ve grabbed a photo of this defaced sign, but it was something.

As was the “Ladies in Gaming” panel, which was being held in the “Community Hub”; not exactly the biggest area, but big enough to fill out its 150-200 person capacity. Though it was also quite an interesting panel, bringing together a number of different perspectives from various aspects of the gaming community – not so much focusing on gender, but more on what they actually do. Though I will say, the panel had one of the best Q&A questions I’ve heard asked in a while: “What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?” Sadly, this wasn’t recorded, but damn what a question.

Where it picked up a bit more for me was the socialising angle. Most nights we were accompanied by the fine folks from Player Attack, but there was a constant rotation of interesting characters. At one of the post-expo drinks, we were greeted by one of the contestants from last year’s Beauty & The Geek, who’s name I didn’t catch, sadly; legitimately cool guy to speak to.

After he left, we were joined by three people who had purchased Ultimate Gamer Passes, a limited pass which got you into super exclusive areas where there was food and arcade machines, as well as invites to bunch of talks and an exclusive after-party. They also allowed you to jump to the front of any of the queues. The catch? They set you back a cool $500.

Again, I didn’t catch the names of these gents, but I wish I did. We had some great conversations about gamer stereotypes and whether or not it was worth travelling so far and paying so much for such an expo. One in particular had flown from Perth and had a day life as a personal trainer. That had to come to a close early thanks to my sickness and one beer kinda not mixing very well. Stupid ConFlu.

Where it got bizarre was when the New Game Plus crew or myself would be recognized. Throughout the weekend, people would come up to us and say how much they dug our work before asking for photos with us. This really weirded me out for some reason, mostly because I often feel quite unknown and unworthy of recognition. It never ceases to surprise me whenever someone asks to take a picture with me.

To kinda go with that, meeting and introducing myself to people was shockingly easy, mostly because I’d done a lot of the ‘hard’ work on introducing myself via Twitter. It never ceases to weird me out whenever I introduce myself to someone because I’ve not actually met the person outside of the internet, and be met with the response like that of a good friend. Curse this newfangled technology.

So when it was all said and done, EB Expo 2012 was exactly what I had heard from last year: A surprisingly well-run expo about video games. There was plenty on offer for just about everyone, and while it certainly could’ve been improved in a number of areas, I felt it was worth the trip and the money spent. Will it convert me to the convention going crowd? Maybe. But hey, gotta walk before you can run.


For more coverage of EB Expo, check out the most recent episode of New Game Plus.
Come back Thursdays for more thoughts and opinions from the NG+ cast and crew.