This post is part write-up, part hub thing as there are quite a few pieces to talk about and sticking them all into one post will just make it long and the transitions clunky. So here is the full list of bits for the “Legends of Gaming Live 2015” event.
With that, on to my thoughts about the event.
The point where I am now, at least where I can call myself a press monkey that covers events, I can consider myself ‘experienced’. Been to a few of these sorts of things by this point. “The Legends of Gaming Live” was a much different affair then say MCM (Comic Con London). That’s not to say it was bad. I played more games there then I ever have at any MCM event although that could be because it was a specific gaming event. Complaining that an event called Movies Comic Media under the name London Comic Con doesn’t have games is on par with complaining that cars don’t have jets. Yes it can happen but it’s not even in the title so what else would you expect when it doesn’t.
To start, I’m gonna have a big old whine and bitch about stuff. I didn’t even know about the event till about 2/3 weeks before the event. That’s not me complaining. Just me saying that this was yet another event that I didn’t know about well in advance, like “Summer in the City” at ExCel. This just means that I applied to get a press pass just about 10 days before the actual event. After not hearing from them for a while, except an automated email saying that my pass was being processed with no confirmation, I thought that I wasn’t going to be on the list.12 hours before the event I got an email saying I was on the press list and they sent me all the press materials. 12 hours before the event! I had resigned myself to not going because they hadn’t sent me anything except an automated reply and it was the day before the event! This led me to rushedly get everything charged, clear the camera, sort out the travel money and get ready for a 6am wake up to get across London. That is not how you prepare for an event! I like to have a little research under my belt before I start taking pictures, videos and randomly surprising dev’s and stall owners with the fact that I wouldn’t mind a business card. It’s so I can at least call myself a professional press monkey but still only a press monkey. To bring up MCM again, as soon as I get accepted for a press pass I get an email saying so. It gives me time to prepare and plan. I thought this was just because I had signed up late but, turns out, after having a chat with some other press people there, it happened to them as well.
When I got to the event (which on an unrelated note was later then I wanted because it turned out London Underground closed most of the Central Line out of spite,) I went on the quest for my pass. It was a full quest to get my pass as when I arrived I asked where I needed to go. “Over there” they said. Vague but manageable as they gestured toward the box office. Asked the box office for a pass to which the reply was we don’t do those, you needed to go to the press room inside to get it. So inside I went, skimming through the short queue waving a letter about that some how showed I had press status. Rather than going to the press room I was shown to a person who was dealing with the VIP tickets. Their response to my asking for my pass was “we don’t do them here, go to the box office” to which I replied “I just came from the box office, they told me to come here.” “Ohh” the man said. “Follow me.” So he led me through the side entrance, back to the box office were he went inside the box office to have a look for the passes. “There not in here, talk to the man outside the box office round the side,” came the voice of the man from inside. After spending a moment working out who the hell he was talking about, I went to the man outside the box office and got my pass. Having me loop round the entrance, talking to half a dozen people just to get my pass, just so I can get in does not endear you to me. Just makes me concerned that I’m not on the list and that I got up a 6am for nothing. Again, I thought it was just me because I was a late sign up and got there about 10am instead of the opening 9am. Also again, turns out I was not the only one. While sitting in the press room sorting out what to film next I heard talk that there was a general cock-up with the list at the box office and many people getting their pass’ had similar palavers.
After I got into the event, all was ok. It was by far the smallest event I’ve covered. A fraction of the size of MCM London and about a half to a third the size of MCM Midlands. I’ve been to Alexandria Palace for events before (been to the Model Engineers Expo with the Dad for 2 years) so knew how big the innards were. Even so, it was very spaced out with large walkways and not as many booths as I had expected. It was good as there were no squashed crowds like you get on the busy days of other cons but it has its problems.
A huge chunk of the area was taken up by the live stage and an even larger chunk at the front was taken up for a VIP area. Most of the time, the VIP area was mostly empty. Only one event would of packed out the VIP area at the was the first Call of Duty stage show with Syndicate and Ali-A. Otherwise, it felt like the VIP area was more in the way as no one was in it. As the day went on, it would have been nice if they shrunk the VIP area down or just closed it because after that first CoD event hundreds of people left. That was all they came for. Or to be more specific, they came for Syndicate. There is a reason why he is the first face on the social media links and why the official press (Endemol UK for Channel 4 and IGN) plastered him everywhere.
One thing that always annoys me with some companies and booths on the show floor is being told not to take pictures or videos of a game. Even though it’s on the show floor and a few thousand people would of played it by the end of the day. This time I was only told of by Nintendo and EA for pictures of “Super Mario Maker” and “FIFA 16” respectively. After this happened, and after I played a bit of “Metal Gear Sold V” which was in a boxed off area as it was an 18 only area, I asked expecting a no if there was any chance of getting pictures or videos of the game. The reply I got was an unexpected “I really don’t know” which confused the hell out of me. That’s when I went back to the Nintendo booth, stood next to the Super Mario Maker stand, in the middle of the booth, and recorded it with no one bothering me. Other Nintendo staff looked at me and they didn’t care. Even talked to them later and played Super Mario Maker, Splatoon and Starfox Zero. One even offered to take a picture of me, with my camera, next to a Splatoon roller when I was milling about taking pictures of the stand. This inconstancy makes me think that no one at the booths knew what the hell they were doing.
To conclude, and continue the comparison with MCM, this was not like MCM. It was far more corporate affair. Less commercialized that MCM but definitely more corporate. You could feel the fingers of the corporate bods where ever you looked. Mattessons were a big sponsor, plastering their F.R.H.A.N.K robot everywhere. Although, as I was very unprepared (seriously, only 12 hours notice!) I skipped breakfast and had no lunch so I was sustained by Mattessons Fridge Raiders. This was because they had a vending machine that would vend packets when you tweeted something near it with a hashtag. It was a very temperamental machine and turned out they over stocked so by the end they were just handing them out to get rid of them. They were very tasty though and nicely chilled. The corporate nature of the event was most shown I think by the final CoD show. All of the CoD shows where played in ‘Paintball Mode’ to make it 12 year old friendly. All it did was change the sound effect of the guns to sound more pneumatic, changed the blood effects to mustard yellow and make the bullet-holes to paintball splats. My first thought when I saw that was that a bunch of parents will today find out that CoD it actually PEGI 18. The rest just wouldn’t of cared if it was regular or not. Anyway, for the final round Syndicate came up with the idea of making the end more fun buy using what I’d call mini-guns that you can deploy to make yourself a turret. This was definitely off script as one of the presenters tried hushing all the ‘legends’ down (all who had basically agreed to the challenge) just to say “make sure you don’t dodge the paintball mode. Please think of the children.” The children, and the parents who’s making sure they don’t get lost, who are here are the ones who don’t care. The kids who managed to stick about for 8 hours are the ones who watch their streams and their videos which are totally uncensored and involve much more swearing. If you where so paranoid about the ‘legends’ going of script why did you pick an 18 game for them to play in the first place? Oh yeah, the kids wouldn’t be interested in watching then because the main game they and the legends play is CoD and Minecraft which had 2 events already and its own booth. No one plays CoD in paintball mode. Not even the kids. I bet some didn’t even know there was a paintball mode on the disk. You really should know your audience better. Even if they are mostly 12 year olds.
So in the end, next year or the next time you do this event, please manage it better because everything else was good. The stage show was good overall, (even though the presenters were acting to ‘TV’ if you know what I mean) the booths were spread out meaning there were no clashes and people had space to play the games and while it was corporate up the butt the commercial side of it wasn’t overbearing like MCM can tend to be sometimes. So please, have a few stage rehearsals before going live and act like outside press like me are are wanted. Really don’t cock up the getting of the press passes because that just tweaks us before we even get in. Everything is there for it to be a good live event. You just have to fine tune what you have and be more about the show instead of just Syndicate and Ali-A playing Call of Duty. Or do just that, go to Wembley and bugger everything else.