Your first time at an expo can be daunting – what do you do, what do you say, what do you play? But Kim is on hand to give advice and make sure you get the most of out of Rezzed.
This year was my third time attending Rezzed but I was lucky enough to experience it with some friends who have never been before. This gave me the opportunity to see it through their eyes; and while each of them had a fantastic experience, a few rookie mistakes were made. So to make sure everyone gets the best out of future Rezzed events – or indeed any other expo – here’s a guide we’ve put together that includes the best tips we can think of.
1. Do your research
Firstly, don’t just rush out and get your ticket as soon as they’re released; it’s worth taking some time to look at the different types available and what time the expo starts. It wasn’t the case for this year’s Rezzed but previous events have offered the opportunity to get into the venue an hour early. Are you happy to turn up on time and wait in line, soaking up the atmosphere and chatting to fellow attendees; or would you rather pay a little extra and be one of the first ones through the doors?
Secondly, research the video games that are going to be on show and figure out which you’re most interested in seeing. It’s not a good idea to plan your every move right down to the last minute because it’ll never work out that way, but it is a good idea to give yourself a few priorities. Even if you book a ticket for the entire duration of the event you’ll struggle to fit everything in! An EGX app was made available to attendees this year and it was pretty useful, as it gave an overview on all titles and their locations along with the scheduled developer sessions.
Top tip from Kim: “Regardless of how many games you think you’ll fit in, it never happens! Make sure you cover the things you definitely want to see and anything else is a bonus.”
2. Come prepared
It still surprises me the number of people who turn up at Rezzed wearing things that could potentially be seen as ‘inappropriate’. There’ll always be the guy who looks as if he’s more suited to going out for a night on the town or the girl who’s regretting slipping on those five-inch heels (and I’m not including cosplayers in that statement). It’s far better to enjoy yourself and not have to worry about how you look all day, so make sure you turn up comfortable. Expos are notorious for never having enough seating so trust me: you’ll be thankful you’ve worn your trainers.
If you’re going to an expo in a journalistic capacity, it’s always a good idea to schedule a few interviews with developers beforehand rather than leaving it until the day. Whilst the majority are extremely friendly and happy to talk to you if you just rock up to their stand, it does show an amount of professionalism when you’re prepared. Read up about their work before the event, have an idea of the questions you’d like to ask them, and get those business cards printed up.
Top tip from Ben: “Breath mints and water, people. You’re going to be talking a lot and first impressions most definitely count.”
3. Make an effort
While I’ve said above that you should definitely turn up at an expo feeling comfortable, there’s something to be said for making a little effort. It’s not nice being in a queue, waiting to try out that video game you’ve been itching to get your hands on for ages, only to be stuck next to someone who looks – and worse, smells – as if they need a really good scrub. It should go without saying but you’d be surprised at the number of people who seem to arrive at Rezzed having not heeded the following advice: shower before leaving your home or hotel.
If you’ve scheduled an interview with a developer, be polite and personable when meeting them. It’s easy to get nervous in front of someone you’ve been a fan of for ages (it happened to me when meeting Ragnar Tørnquist and Martin Bruusgaard at my first Rezzed) but if you’ve taken the advice in the point above and prepared, you’ll be absolutely fine. Most importantly, arrive on time and don’t keep them waiting. I know of a writer from another website who once missed his slot with a BAFTA-winning developer… it won’t do anything positive for your reputation.
4. Don’t be a gimmick
I have to applaud developer Bossa Studios for their excellent stand at Rezzed this year. They kitted out a space to promote I am Bread so it looked like an open-plan living room and kitchen area; baked goods were placed on a dining table whilst gamers sat on a sofa in front of a television and played the title. Representatives were on hand to distribute hats to those in the queue. Just take a look at this photograph we took.
Everyone loves a freebie and it’s possible to get merchandise and discount codes at expos, but for your own dignity don’t allow yourself to become part of a gimmick. You’re there to enjoy the video games after all, and you won’t be able to do that if you’re spending your time fighting with the crowd over the last free t-shirt that’s three sizes too big. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get involved but if you end up wearing a ridiculous I am Bread hat we are going to take photographs of you. Lots of them.
Top tip from Pete: “Expos should be about what you get out of them, not what you get from them. And don’t wear stupid hats.”
5. Get involved
See, I told you I wasn’t saying to not get involved. Don’t stand on the side-lines – jump right in and play those video games! The majority of developers I’ve met when attending Rezzed events are more than happy to talk to you and they’ll be very keen to hear your feedback after trying out their latest project. You’re likely to make new friends at expos whether they’re gamers, writers, YouTubers or streamers; I met Tim from GeekOut South-West and Joel from Quotes from the Tabletop at the event in 2014 and haven’t been able to get rid of them since.
Expos are also a great opportunity to expand your horizons. You may end up finding a title you love in a genre you weren’t previously keen on; hearing some inside details during a developer session; or finding some fellow streamers who are happy to share a game. Rezzed included a large area on education and careers this year so if you’ve always wanted to work in the industry, it’s worth talking to the training providers as they could have a course that’s perfect for you.
So there you have it: you should now be well equipped to tackle any expo. Tickets for EGX on 24-27 September 2015 are already on sale on the official website, so why not bag yourself a couple of put the advice above into practice? If you have any advice of your own why not let us know in comments below.