The biggest video game trade fair is about to open up in Cologne, Germany again. Last year 345,000 people decided to go, so here is my advice for newcomers.
1) Don’t Go
While they keep selling tickets there just isn’t enough space. Entertainment trade fairs and conventions aren’t exactly known for managing their space properly, but this one goes off the charts. In the early days you were able to walk at full speed through the hallways connecting the exhibition halls. Today you can easily think you’re in line for free fedoras and katanas, and everyone around you is going for another round.
2) Don’t Go
It smells. I’m unhappy with the fact that the only types of shaming accepted in the western world these days are “fat” and “nerds”, so please take that into consideration when I tell you the following: those fat nerds don’t shower. If they do, they don’t use deodorant. Those cute girls and young women cosplaying as your favourite waifu? They smell like rancid meat stuffed into cheap latex that has been left out in the sun for a week.
3) Don’t Go
You’re gonna be hungry. The food stands and cafeterias literally sell you microwave meals from the nearby grocery store for six times the price. You might think you won’t mind, but I’ll assure you you’d rather just lie down and actually, physically, for real die than to eat that garbage.
Then there’s the matter of dehydration. Mind you, I want to live in a world where carbonated water flows in rivers and comes out of your tap, but you probably don’t. Death is the only sensible option when the other is spending €7,00 for 200 ml of lukewarm mouth-and-stomach-corroding poison. The bottles are pretty though.
4) Don’t Go
There’s nothing to see. Most of the information will be recycled into “”””””articles”””””” and “”””””YouTube content”””””” by the time you get there. Two pages worth of stale press releases aren’t gonna do you any good. The demos aren’t fun to play with wranglers telling you what to and everyone watching, and the best giveaways are skin codes for dead MOBAs that you can later sell on Ebay for €5,00.
5) Don’t Go
Fun isn’t allowed. It’s Germany after all, and we Germans don’t like fun. The illusion of fun is alright, but Frau Merkel personally needs to approve each and every event herself. All the shows, game tournaments, and competitions leave you thinking “I’d probably have a fun time if I’d be at home watching this on TV to escape my formulaic life of sleep, work, shallow socialising, and watching TV” Here’s the deal: it’s all part of the formula wake up sheeple!!!!
Honestly, the events and shows are really boring. It’s just people shouting buzzwords and throwing shirts.
6) Have a Good Time
Seriously. Bring some food, a lot of water, and most importantly someone you can enjoy your time with.
Stand in line to play a game you’ve been playing at home for years to get sweet key holders and buttons for that shabby old backpack you haven’t used in years. Talk to people and connect with them over a hobby you share. Take in the enthusiasm younger or less experienced gamers show and be reminded of the good old days when games were still new and exciting to you. Buy some merchandise, be it official stuff you never bought because shipping to Europe is unreasonably expensive, or lewd comics drawn by hard-working pervers. Take a look at passionately crafted costumes (even if they can’t carry weapons anymore, think of the children) and make some memories.
The best part of Gamescom of course is Cologne’s close proximity to Germany’s greatest city Düsseldorf. Have a few Schuhmacher or Füchschen, check out the Weeaboo’s paradise that is the Japanese Business District with tons of great restaurants and Otaku stores, or the Eko Haus and the Japanese Garden.
Featured image by Roman Hallier