This was my first ever EGX, following up from my first ever Rezzed. Over the past few days I’ve given you some short recaps of how it all went down: who did I meet, what games I tried and what kind of stuff blew me away. But I haven’t gone into what I thought about the event itself. Let’s get to that.
I never expected such a large crowd. I knew it would be a bigger show, but nothing prepared me for the sheer number of gamers around. From the moment I queued up for my pass, I couldn’t believe how many people were around me and that was before I even saw the queue to go in, the “early access” queue. Because no one told me there was a queue specifically for press. A great and Legendary friend had to fill me in.
The one problem with such big crowds around you is you can easily tell how good their personal hygiene is. While I made sure, almost neurotically so, to smell nice in every way possible, it’s amazing how many people didn’t have that same consideration. And with such tightly packed crowds, let’s say the smells wafted to you very often.
But the crowds at EGX also showed me how we’re becoming a very inclusive community. Sure, the crowd was still predominantly male, but it was a joy to see so many female and trans gamers and developers. With how often they’re maligned by both society an our community, it was uplifting to see that at least at EGX that wouldn’t be the case. It made me proud of gamers (and British people).
That isn’t to say there weren’t bad moments at EGX. I have what many would call keen hearing and so I often picked up some very rude and almost offensive conversations carried out between groups of people, particularly towards female cosplayers and male crossplayers. These annoyed me to no end, but were in the minority. There was also that moment when someone swiped TinyPixxels‘ gear and personal belongings. I’m still amazed at how well she and Steve handled things.
After attending Rezzed I hoped to see a large indie section, but the reality was disappointing. The Indie Megabooth, Rezzed and Leftfield Collection areas together didn’t even cover 1/3rd of the hall. There was very little room between stands so people so overcrowding was a constant reality. Though that didn’t stop the developers and publishers from giving it their all and show you how passionate they were about their products.
The careers section where the National Film & Television School’s Video Game program, aka NFTS Games, had their booth had a similar problem. While speaking to them, they commented how the regret their odd positioning, somewhere around the middle of the EGX hall and surrounded by so many big names. These drew the crowds away and there wasn’t proper signing to direct people to them. And it’s a shame because the games the students had for show were outstanding!
Between the live events at the Nintendo booth, the manic frenzy on the Sony and Microsoft ones and the overly loud YouTube gaming section, you sometimes had to shout to talk to someone right next to you. There were so many games with amazing music and it was so hard to hear them sometimes, even with headsets cranked up to the max. On Saturday the volume reached cacophonous levels. But while I hated the noise, I can’t deny they affected me as much as they did the other gamers. They filled me with energy and made me excited to be there. In comparison, the e-sports areas were kind of dull. Sure there were crowds playing and watching but they failed to capture me.
The EGX press area was a sea of calm. The moment you entered all the noise faded into the distance. It’s no surprise we made this our regrouping area, to charge up our phones, talk about things and just rest.
The NEC is enormous, and with so much walking to do, by the end of the day I could barely shuffle around. If there was ever a moment when I wished we all had spare feet we could screw on, it was at the end of each EGX day.
AAA gaming at EGX didn’t have much to offer me. I wanted to play Hitman and Deus EX, but they only had press events—that according to various sources is the same one they showed at E3. The queues for the other tiles made it impossible to see them. I just wasn’t willing to waste 2 to 3 hours for an experience lasting just a few short minutes. I like Star Wars and Tomb Raider, but not that much. I left the Nintendo booth wanting more and more of Xenoblade Chronicles X, same with the little bit I played of Street Fighter V.
For the most part I lived in the Indie section, where I saw fabulous games, met amazing developers and publishers, and where I kept running into my friends and colleagues. I swear Ben was following me!
As this was the first EGX at the NEC, it felt as though they were still getting used to the space, at least in layout and spreading the booths around. In many ways, with how Sony and Microsoft took the centre of the hall, it felt as though they built the hall as an arena for them.
Did I enjoy EGX? Oh yes, it was great meeting new people, see so many games coming in the future and just taking in the joy and energy from the crowd. I did make the mistake of over-booking interviews, leaving me with little time for myself, but I enjoyed every interview I had, as I managed to connect with the developers and publishers as gamers. They weren’t faceless PR people with a script to me and I wasn’t a faceless journalist to them. I liked that.
But you know what? I prefer Rezzed over EGX. Wes Platt from Prologue Games, when I asked him which event he preferred said he liked the exposure at EGX, the numbers. But at Rezzed he felt they had more intimacy to talk to people and they were more open-minded about trying out Knee Deep.
I share his feeling on this, I preferred the intimacy to talk to developers and play fun games at the other event. Can’t wait until next year’s Rezzed.