Convention Week: Why I Generally Avoid Video Games at Conventions

Welcome to Convention Week! We start things off with a subject that has been an annoyance since the very first convention I’ve ever been to: the line to play video games.

Each year, Fan Expo hosts an exclusive period for patrons with a deluxe pass or higher. If you have one, you can get into the show two hours early. As a deluxe pass holder, I use this time to run straight to the Nintendo booth every year. With the way things work out, this is the only time I have to play video games at this show.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re not picky about what you’re playing, you can walk up to a kiosk and play a number of games with little hassle. This year, the Nintendo rep covering Super Lucky’s Tale thanked me for playing his game so that he had something to do. Also got the opportunity to play Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot with little stress, as there was only one person in front of me.

But when you try to play the most sought after titles, the experience can be a nightmare. The reality is that none of these publishers will have enough floor space to set up the appropriate number of consoles to satiate demand. As such, we’re all forced to stand in line for hours if we want a 15-minute taste of Luigi’s Mansion 3, Link’s Awakening, or Gears 5.

In a first come, first serve environment, my best bet to play the games I want to play most is to get there during the premium pass-holder period when the lines are shortest. With that time this year, I got to play Link’s Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion 3. Even under these “best case” circumstances, I still waited 90 minutes total to play those two games for 15 minutes each. The math only gets considerably worse once the show opens for the general public.

Sony tries to circumvent this a bit with their online booking system. If you have the app (which of course you don’t), you can book an appointment to see some of their hottest games. It worked well for me this time, as it was easy to grab a time slot for Final Fantasy VII Remake or the Iron Man VR demo. However, the convenience was largely created by a lack of demand for those experiences. In previous years, I’ve downloaded the app in order to book appointments only to find that they’re fully booked for the weekend by the time the show starts.

Though gaming is my favourite fandom, there are some real hurdles that make the process of demoing pre-release games a chore. There will always be a mad scramble for the hottest games and there will never be enough space for publishers to demo these games to the thousands in attendance within a reasonable timeframe. Beyond that two-hour window where the lines are shortest, it simply doesn’t make sense for me to wait in these huge lines for just a nibble at an upcoming release. If you see me next year at Fan Expo before the show opens, I’ll race you to the Nintendo booth!

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