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Having attended GamerCon this past St. Patrick’s Weekend, Aaron Poole discusses the event’s controversial shortcomings.

BACK in September, I wrote about the world convention scene and how gaming was becoming a big part in cultivating it, referring to just how popular they’d become in terms of a promotional point-of-view for the companies who participated in either creating or sponsoring the event. Whatever opinion you might have on these events, it’s undeniable that they draw a massive crowd who crave to be there and to be part of the experience.

For many Irish gaming fans, it seemed like a pipe dream to be able to travel abroad to the likes of E3 or gamescom; people who are too young to make their way over themselves have no means, and people who are able to afford the trip are plagued by the awkward times at which the events transpire. But what set out to facilitate this, as well as draw international attention to the popularity of the Irish gaming scene, was GamerCon, which took place over St Patrick’s Weekend in Dublin’s Convention Centre.

“with the Convention Centre having a legal capacity of just over 9,000, there were big problems that would plague the event from the get-go.”

What was promised by GamerCon was “Ireland’s biggest ever gaming event”, or so their press release said. An expected 25,000 gamers were expected to descend from across Ireland to assemble for what what was labelled as a ‘sold-out’ show, which was heavily advertised and sponsored by top brand names including Sony, Microsoft, Alienware and Razer, to name a few, with over 800 ‘game stations’ on hand for visitors to avail of. Alongside this, top names from YouTube’s gaming community, including Ali-A, UberDanger and JeromeASF were also listed as guest for the event. What was being advertised seemed like the perfect inaugural event for an Irish audience. The problem was, with the Convention Centre having a legal capacity of just over 9,000, there were big problems that would plague the event from the get-go.

While the Observer were given press access to the event, meaning we were given priority entry without queues, things were very different for members of the public who were waiting outside the Convention Centre with their tickets both on Saturday and Sunday of the event. Operating from Twitter on the inside of the Convention Centre, members of the public sent in their comments to us as they were outraged to be left waiting in extraordinarily far-reaching queues for hours on end.

“#GamerConDublin quickly transformed from accompaniment for the event into a platform that allowed the public to express their outrage through”

“It’s an Absolute Joke, we’ve 7 very disappointed children #GamerGONE” sent in user Rosie Palmer, while user Eoin Murphy sent in “On the way home now, queued for the first two hours, crying kids and angry parents. Even security doesn’t know what’s going on!” One user Ciarán Rigney was quick to point out to use that, on the GamerCon website, tickets were still on sale for the event early Saturday morning. Pictures of the queues were quick to fill social media as the hashtag #GamerConDublin quickly transformed from accompaniment for the event into a platform that allowed the public to express their outrage through, as well as a protesting ground to demand refunds from the company.

“no further guests would be admitted upstairs at all until a significant amount came back down”

Inside the centre, things weren’t much better; as we tried to make our way upstairs for scheduled interviews with some of the guests, we were told that the upper floors were at capacity, and that no further guests would be admitted upstairs until a significant amount came back down, thus creating a backlog of hundreds of guests at the base of the escalators for an extended amount of time and leading us to miss our interview slots. On the show floor, there were queue lines exceeding 2 hour waits to play certain titles, the play duration of which lasted only 10 minutes.

Matters worsened when it was made known that the organisers had off-handedly added an extra clause to their terms and conditions while the event was ongoing which remains on their site in a different font size to the rest, stating the following;

“Please note that we are required to maintain a safe environment for our attendees at all times and as such are subject to the capacities of the venue and the rooms/halls therein. Access is therefore not guaranteed, should such capacities become a challenge or be in danger of being breached. Equally, should you choose to leave the venue at any time, re-entry is not guaranteed.”

While no reason has been given to explain the overbooking of the event, many are speculating that, as a result of overspending on high-profile names and marketing, too many tickets had to be sold to avoid the even being a financial failure (coincidentally, the event will undoubtedly turn a deficit as a result of the amount of refunds now being processed). During the event, organiser Ferdi Roberts closed down his personal Twitter account before stating via the GamerCon Facebook page “ Reading people’s comments on social media I can see just how angered and frustrated people are. I accept that I and the decisions I made created that situation for you, your family or loved ones. This was never my intent, and for this I am incredibly sorry.” Whatever way you look at it, to have have ‘C’ in GamerCon capitalised might now seem like more than effective branding, as most gamers during the event were definitely conned.

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