There is only so long I can put this off, so here it is - my Quakecon 2010 plus swag report. For those not in the know Quakecon is a free annual event where gamers from all across the United States (and even a few from around the world) meet to play computer games and share in the awesomeness that is iD Software.
It provides four days of entertainment, competitions, and lots of free swag. Aside from the regularly provided free t-shirts there are often computer components and other gaming items being thrown out to the oft ravenous crowds. The sources of free goods can often be seen being swarmed upon by the horde.
This year the ‘con had a decidedly more commercial approach to it’s offerings and it showed in almost every aspect of the event. This year pre-registration was done away with, as well as the usual huge room sized queues that accompany the first come first serve line. This year everyone who had a hotel booking at the Hilton Anatole had a guaranteed spot in the BYOC. That didn’t prevent a queue from forming on the morning of the first day, but it did make everything move a lot faster than last year.
Everything from the signs to the vendor area construction had a more professional and slick approach. An unfortunate down side is that there was way less free swag. In the past vendors all had shirts, buttons, and all manners of random stuff to give out. This year there were vendors selling items directly at the con, shirts were in limited supply (relatively speaking) and at least one of the QuakeCon shirts was only available commercially.
This year the ‘con also made the understandable move of banning the popular DC++ file sharing system. This was met with some opposition from a particularly vocal minority, who even went so far as to create the DC++ chant which was a regularly recurring theme of the event.
The vendor area got a clean up but was a lot smaller than last year and did away with a lot of the fun areas from last such as the bean bag lounge. The sit and go areas were more hidden away and were quite a bit smaller. A plus side is that bethesda’s area had grown to include things people actually wanted to look at such as playable previews of Fallout New Vegas and Brink.
I’m not an expert at getting swag at events. Actually I’ll go so far as to say I’m among the worst at getting free stuff at anything. Half the reason I got as much stuff last year, aside from the shirts which you had have to try really *not* to get, was that I was always near Missingo - an absolute expert at getting free stuff.
As a result most of the free stuff I got was the result of my volunteer efforts, from both this year and last. By the end of the event I had scored two of the ‘free’ Quakecon shirts, a ‘retail’ Quakecon shirt (a prize for volunteering), a staff shirt, a Fallout New Vegas shirt, a Brink shirt, a Fallout New Vegas lithograph and a computer case.
The volunteer services were as good as ever and the volunteer army during teardown has reached a fearsome size which made it all go very quickly and smoothly.
All in all the ‘con was a good event. Perhaps familiarity, far fewer friends attending and a general disconnect from the better elements of last year’s con (like the venue, the Hilton is nowhere near as good as the Gaylord Texan) left me a little less positive about this year’s event over last. If this were my introductory year I’m not sure I would have gone back again. That said the negatives were far outweighed by the positives. John Carmack gave a much better talk and spent a lot more time in discussion with his fans that in itself made up for everything else.