Best of 2013: The Not-So Gamescom Diary

First Published: August 24, 2013
Voted For By: Ed
Reason(s) for Vote:
This year I did E3 by myself, and yet I still found Gamescom to be the more stressful experience. In terms of the expo itself, nothing went wrong at E3 for me, despite it being the bigger event with more to see and do. Instead, Gamescom felt like a shambles at times, with one company canceling all of their appointments with us a day before we flew out, PRs giving us the runaround and stampeding hordes of entitled, pushing and shoving gamers so frequent that I almost lost it and found myself shouting “you can tell why they invaded Poland” to a stunned Ric. Irritability loves company, and I sincerely thank Keegan and Ric for doing their best to keep me sane, as well as Jo’s not-Gamescom diary for reminding me what a privilege it is do do what I do for GL, and naively thinking she wouldn’t have killed me way before I’d ever contemplate leaving her buried under Kolnmesse.


It’s 5:30 AM, and I rise blearily from fractured sleep only to realise one thing: I didn’t go to Gamescom, so why the fuck am I awake? Oh, the junkie that lives in the graveyard out the back (who I’ve endearingly named Crack-head Frank) is having another argument with a tree. Okay. I resign myself to the fact that between Frank, his yappy Terrier, and my partners snoring, I’m not going to sleep any more tonight and do the inevitable; I reach for my smartphone.

As always, around conference time, my Twitter and Facebook feed have exploded with news, information and general comments of those lucky enough to be attending the large gathering of the pasty, the geeky and the expertly hand-eye co-ordinated from around the world and, while I recline back in bed, I can’t help but feel that little bit (okay overwhelmingly) jealous of them each time; the sights, the smells, the experience, the games… It all just looks so tantalising. Yet every year, when conference organisation time rolls around, and the option to put myself forward arises, I sit back, shut up and show no interest in the events whatsoever. Why? Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a tit.

By now I know that Ric, Keegan and Ed are all working really hard to get words on to the screen so that everyone can appreciate just what it is like to attend Gamescom this year, but I also know that, despite being incredibly tired, they’ve likely loved every second and, as I sit here in bed wearing nothing more than a faded Pokémon T-shirt and my Mighty Mouse pants, I can’t help but wonder what it is that I could bring to the GamingLives writing team in this kind of situation. It’s at this point, after a few fond day-dreams of me surrounded by empty booths and tanned, toned men in hot-pants handing out free cocktails, that I remember (as I do every time the offer to go to any event pops up) that I am well and truly (and sometimes catastrophically) socially inept.

Okay, so let us work our way through the conference, shall we? First there’s the journey to Germany. Well that’s not too hard – I live fairly close to Heathrow so it’s only a bus to a plane. But then I’m bound to have forgotten something. In the past this has ranged from getting halfway to the airport in my slippers, to leaving spare change in my pocket and warranting a full pat-down in front of a bunch of strangers. Okay, so that last one isn’t too bad, but when you’re carrying a bright yellow 101 Dalmatians suitcase and are highly ticklish, it usually results in the security staff leading you away to a “more quiet area” where your shrieks and giggles don’t distress other travellers.

So, after a frisky experience with a slightly plump airport attendant that’s resulted in me breaking her nose through a tickle-spasm, I’ve now arrived in the target country – only to realise that my navigation sucks. I’ve got to get my way from A to B in as efficient a manner as possible. It is only now that I realise (despite having this revelation every time I travel) that my 101 Dalmatians suitcase is designed for children, meaning that the handle is half as long as I need it to be and, unless I walk doubled over, the wheels start doing a gymkhana act that results in my suitcase flipping over every ten paces. After about half a mile of this I’ll have resigned myself to the fact that maybe I need to start growing up and purchase some adult-sized luggage in the sales. But I’ve still got to get to the accommodation first. Fuck.

Jo's idea of the GL crew arriving at the airport in style

Eventually I’ll make it to the destination. A hotel where I can’t help but laugh every time I hear the name (Hotel Ass? Come on – I’d be in stitches!). It’s at this point where I start to break into a cold sweat: I’d be sharing a room with my other writers. While I love Ed, Ric and Keegan to bits, the thought of sharing a room with them terrifies me. Not because I’d be sharing with three lovely guys (although I have slept next to Ed at a party once and his ‘chasing rabbits’ sleep twitching gets old really fast), but because they would be sharing with me. I have, in the past, been known not only to sleep walk and talk, but to sleep-attack walls, sleep-request jelly and ice-cream, sleep-eat chocolate biscuits and (my personal favourite) sleep-play that the floor is made of lava by scattering pillows across it and jumping across them so I could hide my duvet in the wardrobe (all true!). It is for this reason that, whenever the situation arises, I politely ask my host if there is an option of sleeping somewhere a little more secluded – if not for my own embarrassment, then for my companions’ sanity. So settling into the hotel room, unpacking my laptop and getting ready for the events ahead, I would be convincing myself of one thing – I cannot fall asleep for the next week.

It's the largest video game conference in Europe, yeah I totally get it... but nobody said there'd be PEOPLE!

Sleep-deprivation in mind, I’m now making my way towards the conference centre along with tens of thousands of other eager visitors. Oh holy cheesecake. I’ve just remembered – I’m terrified of crowds. I mean, if I make it through a shopping trip at the weekend without crying/vomiting/passing out I’m impressed. So what the hell am I going to do here? There’s only one thing for it – Valium.

[45 minutes later...]

Okay. Some non-prescription drugs and a hearty McDonald’s later, and I’m feeling a little less tense. It’s far easier to pass through the crowds and, despite the various samples of blood and sweat (and possibly semen?) that have rubbed off on me from passers by, I’ve made it through to meet and greet various people in the industry. This is great – I’m finally meeting some wonderful people in an industry I love and, better yet, I get to talk to the…

Well shit. I haven’t thought this hypothetical journey all the way through.

You see, I suffer from crippling shyness and, right now, I’m exposed. Get me in front of a customer at work, or answering business calls and I just ooze confidence; right now my brain has turned to custard and my tongue is re-enacting the River Dance, only the river is in the middle of the savanna and it’s the dry season.

If you don't hurry up and actually ASK something, I may have to strangle you. Oh, and it'll be the best strangulation that the world has ever seen... with deep emotion, consequence, and a fucking DOG that you'll love!

Here I am – face to face with some industry celeb with the potential to ask some great questions. Only what’s really happening is that I’m chattering like a squirrel, turning the colour of a beetroot and drooling out of my half-drooped face (I knew Valium was a bad idea). All professionalism is flying out of the window and, as I’m staring at my shoes stammering the same “H-H-H-H-H-Hello” over and over again, a memory would flash across my mind of sitting in bed in my Mighty Mouse pants and enviously reading the diaries of my fellow writers who have more courage and social fortitude than I. I would turn for help to my fellow writers Ric, Keegan and Ed, only to find them huddled in a pile in the corner of the noisy, overcrowded hall catching a nap away from the awful sleep-dancing woman that has, up until this point, driven them to the brink of insanity and back again.

So, for the sake of my fellow writers, and that small modicum of professionalism I hope to maintain when writing for GamingLives, I will always look the other way. Who knows though… maybe next year?

Last five articles by Jo


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