Lines of reproach for jam-packed gathering

by Shane Dillon

shane dillon

LAST weekend’s GamerCon at the National Convention Centre (NCC) certainly made lots of headlines in Ireland and internationally – just not for the reasons organisers would have wanted, with widespread negative press and some damning social media criticisms almost completely overshadowing the two-day event itself.

As a disclaimer, I was there for a few hours on Saturday, so I just saw how things worked that day – but the day was followed by pretty furious posts from people and parents slamming the event, while I also overheard several frazzled arguments.

Expected to be a great showcase for all things gaming and gaming culture-related, one can only ask: where did GamerCon go so wrong?

Widespread reports have subsequently focused on the amount of tickets sold for the two-day event, versus the actual capacity of the NCC.

It appears that organisers greatly underestimated the ‘flow’ of punters.

If people were expected to come in for a while, look around and then leave the NCC, that’s not at all what happened – they were obviously intent on staying for hours, if not the day.

The end result was that the NCC was soon full with a capacity crowd of people who were reluctant to leave, perhaps because they wanted to see timetabled events at different times during the day, while more and more people kept joining the snaking queues outside.

This long, long line of men, women and children was blasted by the gusting winds and driving drizzle in the wide exposed space all around the NCC, with some punters and NCC staff confirming to me that, at that stage, it was taking people about 2.5 hours to get in.

Inside, more queues could be found for some events, with scattered seating and pretty basic food services for the thousands milling about inside compounding matters.

That’s not to say the event was a disaster – for example, a number of YouTubers and gamers were a hit in the main auditorium, which I popped in and out of repeatedly.

It was clear that they were enjoying the banter, gameplay, audience interaction and so on – this was certainly a nicely organised and well-received aspect of GamerCon.

Downstairs, and the eSports and networked gaming hubs were also a hit, but here capacity was also an issue. With eSports enjoying great audience support, there wasn’t enough seating for the numbers watching.

As for the area with new game previews, VR pods, shopping, and other such related gaming matters, the crowd was a crushing throng to rival Grafton Street on Christmas Eve, with – you guessed it – more queues also a feature.

On the plus side, the huge numbers heading to GamerCon prove that there’s a still largely untapped hunger for and interest in gaming across Ireland.

If thousands of all ages will queue for ages in truly terrible weather, that tells you how much of a foothold gaming has in modern life.

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