Me being a game developer, I've had the opportunity to attend numerous gaming conventions, such as EGX and Rezzed, as both an exhibitor and as a general public attendee. My eldest son (10), whilst being an avid gamer who spend most of his spare time (or the time that we allow him) knuckled down on his Xbox One, has never attend such an event before. So imagine his excitement when we hear that an event named GamerCon was coming to Dublin. This is the first time a gaming convention has been held on Irish soil.
GamerCon are marketing the event as...
"Come join the biggest gaming event in Ireland."
"We are sponsored by THE BIGGEST names in gaming, bringing you the BIGGEST & BEST titles and merchandise. Get your game on at GamerCon!"
So I said to my son, "we have to go to this, what do you think?". To say he was excited doesn't even come close. The chance of meeting his YouTube heroes with the listed meet and greet, to playing the very best and newest games, was almost too much for him to contain.
So we added 2 pre-paid tickets to the shopping cart and hit buy!
The day of the show was upon us so we boarded the 5 hour bus from Donegal down to Dublin... walked up O'Connell Street and headed towards the Quays where the convention centre is. As the building loomed closer we finally got to see the event...
Or more accurately, we saw the queue!! When we arrived the queue was already zigzagging around 3 buildings and contain thousands of people, and that is not some wild exaggeration, literally thousands! Undeterred (well slightly), we joined the back of this massive people snake, in the driving rain, and crept exceeding slowly forward. 3 hours later... we were still in the queue, although not creeping at all... god knows how many hours later... hmm, I think I should maybe get some thoughts on the delays from the organiser. Upon speaking to one of the security staff that were manning the queue it was confirmed that the doors were already locked and everyone was being turned away.
And how true it was. For the previous few hours we had noticed people walking in the opposite direction to the queue, but put this down to the waiting duration, appalling weather, and basically losing the will to live. After stopping a few of these tired looking souls they all seemed to be telling the same story. "Queued for 5 hours to be turned away at the door".
Can you imagine my boy's disappointment! 5 hours on a bus, 4 hours queuing, clutching our pre-paid tickets, to be turned away!
As it turns out, my son wasn't the only disappointed child (or adult). Thousands of people were told they couldn't get in. Children were crying everywhere you looked. I have never before, and hope to never again, see such a scene.
After a quick read through the Twitter #GamerCon & #GamerConDublin hashtags it was obvious that things were not going well for the GamerCon organiser, all Social Media was alight and angry. The organiser had deleted his twitter account etc.
A complete fiasco.
So what's next for us in this saga? refund? Well, to be honest, we don't really know. The event's website has posted about refunds being available, a channel which we are currently pursuing. Getting the monies spent on the tickets would be a start (I can't see us getting the transportation costs reimbursed though), but the real issue here for me is how did this happen? As I mentioned at the start of this post I have been to numerous other events which have always been highly enjoyable and hitch-free.... so what happened here?
All the media channels that I've read are claiming that the organiser sold thousands upon thousands of tickets more than the venue could hold. I can't confirm this, but from what I saw on the day it's seems to hold true.
GamerCon.... it's seems the name is quite befitting of the event!