Looking Back : Gamescom 2016, a personal view

Discussion in 'European Regiment' started by kaween, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. kaween

    kaween

    I wasn't really sure I'd do this one as a review, because the even fell a bit short of the (probably way to high) expectations, and no doubt also influenced by GC's highly debatable decision to forbid ANY kind of props for cosplayers who didn't participate in the GC Cosplay contest. But I'm getting ahead of myself, more about that later.

    Warning : wall of text. In case of having issues with that, skip to the last 3 lines. :D


    I'd like to stress this is a pure personal account, people are free -and undoubtedly will- have different opinions and won't agree with the general idea the event left me with, but for those who've never been there or had reason not to attend this years event, it might still be a useful read.


    Personally, I went for 2 main reasons : for one, my son was dying to get to the event, having heard so many things about it. Secondly, as the European 405th was planning a gathering of a substantial number of members, it was a great chance to finally speak face to face to people you'd been talking to by means of Whatsap, Facebook and what do I know. While it's great these means of communication exist, there's nothing that beats the chance of having a couple of hours of fun with the gang, and I can add that in that aspect, Gamescom was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, so did my son and his friend we had taken along with us.


    A couple of issues and warnings if you've never been to Gamescom : depending on where you come from, you WILL be redirected to parking lots that can be quite far from the event. In our case, we were rerouted to a parking lot 9km from the "Messegelände", the place of the event itself. And here's a problem : while the city organized free busses to the event, people who can't speak German will be at a loss on _how the hell you can use those busses to get back_ as the nice bus driver lady on our bus didn't speak a word of English.
    Thankfully, my German is "usable", and I was perfectly capable asking her what the name/number of the bus was that we would need to return. No problem then, you'd think ?
    Think again.
    Apparently, these are special-line busses. Not that illogical. But our bus for example didn't really have a normal bus stop when it arrived. It was more like "we stop here, good day". Before I stepped off the bus, I asked the lady driver if the bus would START from this same spot to the parking lots. Her answer was -and I kid you not- a shrugs of the shoulders. Ah, we'd cross that bridge when we get there. :D (... story isn't over yet)


    Okay, there we were. Remembered the bus number for good measure, took a pic of it -you never know- and marked the entrance gate it had dropped us of. What could possibly go wrong, eh. :)


    Queues were pretty short. In worst case, we were standing waiting at the entrance for a minute or so. And here's my first real issues with GC's policies. Well no, actually 2.


    As everybody probably knows and has been written about extensively here and in other forums, GO this years was a prop-less event. While GC called upon recent events in Germany to explain this pretty drastic decision less than 2 weeks before the event and said the prop ban was meant to help people feel "more secure"., their security didn't really do anything to help feel people "secure". Quite the opposite really.


    Bag control was a joke : my kids had a plastic bag with some clothes. The security guy was totally uninterested, and never even opened the bag. This wasn't a random issue : none of the attendees before me or after me got checked _at all_. It was a pure "next next next" thing. If THIS was meant to help get a sense of security, GC failed miserably. In fact, at the end of the event, this led to a noteworthy conversation when a beautiful Fairy Cosplayer stepped right up to me and opened the conversation with "Don't you feel naked without your gun" ? :D
    Just a couple of minutes ago, her boyfriend/hubby had seen us taking a break at one of the numerous little resting places and had approached me with a "You .... you are Halo no ?" -with a heavy I guess Italian accent-.


    Anyway, Miss Fairy was slightly peeved with the situation, as the prop ban had forbidden her to bring her -undoubtedly equally beautiful- larp sword. "You know", she said, "I can't bring my sword so-called due to security, but my bags, they didn't even check". She continues saying "You know if I had really bad intentions, I could have walked in here with a bomb or a gun in my bags, and they would have passed the security check no problem". She continued saying "it felt so wrong", and "in terms of cosplay, it broke a lot of the illusion". She also ensured me that in terms of number of cosplayers, GC2016 showed a lot less cosplayers than previous years. I can't vouch for that as I wasn't there last year, but it's something I've heard from several other people too who are regulars at Gamescom.


    Pure on a personal note, this fuels my opinion Gamescoms' management deliberately had waited until the very last moment before announcing the prop ban, knowing it would hurt ticket sales. And indeed it would seem that quite a lot of cosplayers stayed home, or attended Gamescom in casual clothing. It's VERY odd to see after-event official videos' on the German SCiFi channel describing the event as a "feast for cosplayers", "seeing cosplayers as far as the eye can see" and downplaying the effect of the propban.


    I was there. I've seen and heard something totally different. :D


    Anyway, enough about that. What was even worse : Gamescoms' ticket system, though completely electronic, does NOT allow people to leave and re-enter the event when they feel like it. This isn't just totally incomprehensible for what is supposed to be THE gamerevent in Europe, it's a major bust if you want to organize a photoshoot or whatever with your friends, regiment, clan, pack, murder or whatever other group of people/beings you belong to. A very, very big "nono" for Gamescoms' organization there.


    You'd think you'd had the worst of it behind you now, would you ? Well thankfully, you do. At least, unless you need that bus service to get back as you will find that literally NOBODY of the people working on the grounds of the event can tell you exactly WHERE the busses start to get back. They simply DO NOT KNOW. When we wanted to leave, I asked 8 (!!) different employees who were present on the ground where the P5 (the bus we needed) had its boarding place. NOBODY knew ANYTHING about that. "Not my department", "don't know", "I normally don't work here in this sector, ask that guy over there". Organization in that regard : worthless.

    "But Kaween, how did you get back to your car then ?". Simply speaking ? I took a cab. My car has a geo-location system which I had build in myself so many years ago JUST for situations like these. I simply stepped up to a cab, showed him the Googlemap location of my car and asked "can you get us there". Without that ? We'd have been in troubles for sure.


    The event itself ? Here's the thing : if you're interested in games (and lets be honest, that IS the brad and butter of Gamescom), GC is heaven. ALL the big companies are there with their latest and greatest. And if you've no trouble waiting in line , you will be able to testplay quite a lot of them. Want to test that Vive ? Want to play Halo Wars 2 ? The newest stuff from "insert any bigger game studio out there" : you'll find it here.


    But if you went as a COSPLAYER mainly ? The image is less positive. There were just too few cosplayers there on the day I attended to make it worth your while if that would have been your sole interest. Going there with a bunch of friends or likeminded nerds : you'll have the time of your life. Going there alone without knowing somebody : although there's like 350.000 people in 4 days on the grounds there, it still could prove to be a lonely place. :)


    What I'm saying here : like every other place : if you go, go for the right reasons. I've you've never attended the even, do it, if only just once.
    If you're a cosplayer AND a gamer, you'll have to go at least for 2 days as it's nearly impossible to combine both interests in one day. For one, there's the sheer size of the place and secondly, the "only one entrance" policy leaves you stuck with your cosplay suit/armor/whatever when you really would like to dump it and have fun testplaying games.


    Something that really took me by surprise : imagine being there with a bunch of guys, saying "lets meet here at 14:00 to have some fun". Great.
    And then you'll see _not a single_ clock, time piece or whatever like ANYWHERE. Latest at that moment in time, you realize NOT wearing your watch today was not a good idea after all. :D
    But honestly, I've never been to a place where it wasn't possible to simply fast check the actual time. Strange, very strange. :)


    So what, the event sucked ?
    No of course not. It was good. It was great in terms of size and in terms of gaming oriented stuff. It was fantastic to meet up with the other guys and girls of the 405th.
    But overall, the event imposed too many restrictions on itself to feel "great". Too many things we've come to take for granted were just not there, not possible or not allowed.


    Better luck next time. :D


    Pure personally : as mentioned, I went there with son and his buddy as I already said, and we were all in some halo-based outfit. Lots of pictures were taken. Lots of kids (smaller and bigger) were happy to get that pic with those Spartans beside them. The foam armor held up nicely, the shoulder failed AGAIN, this time right next to the last repair (of course) and this time I had forgotten to bring along quick repair kit (never leave home without it !) but luckily another friendly 405th provided the stuff I needed to fix up the shoulder piece.


    Ah, and then there was the noise. Gamescom may not have been the loudest similar event I've been to, but it sure must be up there with the top 5 for sure. Having ANY kind of reasonable communication is totally impossible in many places as you are "flatblasted" by the several games stands who seem to be in a constant state of full-audio-war with their competitor next to them. Most of the people working there wear ear protection, so you get the situation where they will shout at YOU asking to enter their stand as they want that SciFi looking guy in their booth for a couple of minutes, but they can't understand YOU even if you're shouting the answer into their faces. :D You have every reason to think this old git is exaggerating, but trust me, Gamescom is unhealthy loud, and just the sound wall alone WILL wear you down after just one day. And honestly, for once I was GLAD the foam helmet cancels quite a lot of exterior noise.


    We had a set of voice amplifiers hooked up which on any normal event would have worked out nicely, but at Gamescom, they were totally underpowered. Considering these devices produce a real 10Watt RMS and are unbelievably loud in normal circumstances, this should give you an idea on just how loud Gamescom can be.


    And then the Gamesom Cosplay competition. While I could not participate for that, as it was being held on the last day of the event (Sunday), GC did have a decent livestream of that particular event which worked pretty well. I can say those who represented the 405th did a great job, and though no prizes were won, I've heard and read a lot of positive feedback on their performance.


    However, for such a high-end event, I must say the hosts were .... Dreadful. Or at least, one of them was. They guy -who did an excellent Geralt on stage- was everything the woman wasn't : he was nice, he was respectful, he was correct and honest. The woman was downright annoying, rude, and nothing more than a pain in the ..... teabag regions. And while some of you might think this was a case of "good cop bad cop", I can assure you it wasn't. It was a case of "being an a.." and she scored big time in that department.


    As for the quality of the individual cosplayers participating in the competition, I can honestly say they ranged from "very good" to "totally mindblowing" and considering i previously said that "in terms of cosplay, Gamescom was disappointing" this seems like a contradiction, these 20-or-so individually excellent performances did not make up for the lack of active and present coplayers during the public hours of event.


    So, where does this leave me in the end ?


    Well, my son who's far more a gamer than a cosplayer said while leaving "it was great, and loud, and impressive but I've had more fun on smaller events than this".
    And honestly, I did understand what he was saying.


    Will I return next year ? Depends.
    Will I return in suit next year ? Depends on the prop rules. No props ? No armor.
    Would I return next year if no 405th meeting would be done there ? Nope, No way.
     
    cyberponcho likes this.
  2. Kemnios

    Kemnios

    I really have to totally agree with you, beside one point: Gamescom isnt quite suitable for Gamers, its likely more suitable for cosplayers, even without those rules it would be that way. Many friends from all over Germany were asked by me if they would like to go to GC. I got from every single person the answer: "Gamescom isnt for testing the games. With a 3 hour queue in front of every A-Game u really cant test this. The day is too short for that, and additionally GC is still expensive (if u havent friends near Cologne). Gamescom nowadays os more for cosplayers." While its totally right to say this view isnt completely true (meaning the first sentence), its the main reason keeping most of the Gamers i know at their homes. Therefore i´d like to share 2 stories:

    As i managed to go to GC with a far friend of mine being a gamer, we made the decision not to queue for a game with >1 hour waiting time. Although this was our personal decision, we really didnt went to the halls with the big firms just as EA etc. We were, and i really think this was the best place at GC this year, at the small indie games: We could really speak to the developers itself, the personal was really into the game and really knew, what the game acutally was (depite from the most people at the big booths as i experienced). This feeling of having little influence in the games development and the direct contact to the developers really fascinated me and my friend. He really was almost the whole time at the hall 10.1 and really enjoyed it.

    Second story is about weaponcheck:
    On Thursday i went to GC without weapon, as they said in their rules. And all the time i saw people with real metal guns (dont lying, they were walking acts), which definiately NOT improves any feeling of any security mentiod in the policies Gamescom made 3 weeks before it took place. Despite from that, i saw many Cosplayers that managed to get their swords and even small guns. I asked them, they said mostly "the made exception for LARP-Swords" or "i wasnt controlled". Well its obvious, that a security system is just as strong as the weakest part of it. Back to the story: on following day i decided to bring my small Halo Magnum (first try, it was designed not to cause any trouble concerning weapons). I did wear it open, so i was pulled out nad had to give it away. If i stored it in the little bag i carried with my suit, iit wouldnt have gone through. What if it would be signal-guns or a real weapon??? As i went to the weapon-store-tent the employees (!!!) of the GC laughed out loud as they held my weapon in hand and said "you have to bring this to us?"

    Thats what i liked to have add to this post :)
     
  3. CommanderPalmer

    CommanderPalmer Membership Officer

    I'm sorry to hear about that were so many issues during Gamescom.
    We talked already more in detail aobut all this, but I agree with Kemnios - even as a gamer, you don't want to go there expecting to test all games. The queues are way too long for that - you wait 1-3 hours to play 10-20 minutes.
    It bit better on Thursday/Friday, but still... not really worth it.
    It isn't a convention either, so it isn't as free and fun as FACTS, ComicCon either...

    But it's sad that it's so badly organized, like they don't care about people but just see $$$.
     
  4. m073

    m073

    Hey, thx for your text :)


    Next time just come early and park direct at the entrance! (P11? or P12 or something like that... if i find my old map i can tell you if necessary)

    I walked to the entrance in my armor in 2 minutes :)

    Weapon ban was a joke and the security checks yes - like i thought it would be. No time for checks on a event like this and not enough people to do it.

    Con was great, loud and a lot of other 405th members :)
     
    kaween likes this.
  5. kaween

    kaween

    Heh, thanks for the tip. :)
     
    m073 likes this.

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