EGX and the importance of queuing.

EGX has been and gone and is now a week old. The largest gaming specific industry and consumer event is now relegated to the past for 2018 and no doubt the organisers are deep in prep for Rezzed in Spring 2019 and the next shindig in Sept 2019.

For myself and Dante, this year was just great and made a big difference to Jambags. We played some good games, met some amazing people (see our Twitter stream for some of the fab peeps), drank a lot of coffee and promoted Jambags to the extent where we had lots of new listens, reads and some nice feedback. We also queued. Like… a lot.

Which is the topic of today’s ramble here on the Jambags website. By golly I’m British and I queue. I do it consciously, I do it subconsciously. I dream about it. I moan constantly, but if a line starts forming, I have that deep down urge to join it. Thank god I’ve never been to an abattoir because I’d blissfully wander onto the killing floor to see why all the cows were lined up so orderly.

At EGX, and I presume other similar events, queuing is a part of the experience. Unless you are a press member with a silver tongue or can get the precious early bird tickets, for a lot of games you can expect to queue. Now we aren’t talking minor queues in the grocery store while some old gimmer gives the clerk their life story. We are talking Post Office on pension day type of queues. The real meaty kind. For major AAA games, the wait is in the region of 1-2 hours, particularly on the busy weekend days. I heard tell that some games, The Division 2 and Smash Bros Ultimate had queues hitting more than 2 hours. Me and Dante queued for over an hour to play 15 minutes of Metro Exodus, the code of which I managed to break within 10 minutes.

Now, I won’t deny that we moaned about this. I also won’t deny that we constantly told each other that we didn’t want to queue. Even at games that didn’t have massive queues, or just one or two screens, you are still reliant on people finishing up their playtime and handing over (which can be tough if the game is awesome and you want to get nuts deep into it). We missed games because we couldn’t face the queue or because some selfish bugger was having a ball on a nifty indie title where the devs are too nice to hoof anyone out of the chair.

As we were in one queue though, I noticed a couple of EGX veterans (vets as they are called in EGX speak or at least I assume). These vets knew the score – they had two light weight, fold out stools and a couple of Nintendo 3DS’ ready for co-op play. While I stood on achy feet, these pros were having a fine old time while I was not. That got me thinking – maybe, just maybe, the queues are part of what makes things like EGX an event.

Hear me out. There are loads of games to play at EGX, I mean more then you can shake a limp member at. But, at the end of the day, you get on average 10-15 mins with these games. If there were no queues, over the course of 8 hours, if you allow for food and toilet breaks, you could hit something in the region of 30 games in a day. Given we all have our own tastes, and that you might not want to play all of them, that would be the majority of games on show over 2 days. Great, I guess but then again, is it?

I mean, it’s like watching a movie at the cinema or on Netflix. Yeah you’ve seen the same thing, but the cinema trip does elevate the experience over something you watch when you are half asleep and checking your phone to see if anyone like your tweet. By the way, please do like all our tweets. Anyway, the same is true of EGX. The anticipation of a game, the marketing blitz by the publishers, the enthusiasm of the smaller devs, the free march and gimmicks, they all do their magic while you wait to play the game. You play less games, but you remember more of them. You have to pick and choose carefully. A mediocre game may seem better. By the same token, an anticipated game that disappoints hits harder. Yet, you remember them.

You also have the group dynamics – we had lots of chats to people in queues. You hear a lot of different opinions. One guy told me he was clearly the superior gamer because he (presumably) had more Playstation trophies than me. Which is a fair cop, given that half of mine are Telltale Games. Which also means I won’t be getting anymore easy plats. Anyway, you meet people and you feel like a war weary regular. Which games have you played, you might ask someone and they’ll list them out. What was the queue like? You all hear the sigh, the knowing nod and confirmation that they waited a full hour for a game but damn it was worth it. You recommend games, tell them when the queues are at their quietest. Tell people what you aren’t bothering with. You are brethren. You few, you Band of Brothers.

So as a proud Brit, I say that EGX wouldn’t be the same without the queues… and of course there was no fecking way I was waiting 2 plus hours to play The Division 2 or Smash.

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