There are just a few days to go before the world’s biggest games show. Gamescom veterans tell us how they are preparing
Andy Robinson, Editor, CVG
Before the show, map out your appointments and figure out exactly where they are. The convention center in Cologne is a big old place if you’re venturing outside of the business area, and there’s nothing worse than turning up to a meeting at Valve’s Hall 7 booth ten minutes late, dripping with sweat. Practice eating vast quantities of meat prior the show is also a good idea, too.
During the show, make sure you set some time aside to explore the main floors – there’s plenty to be seen and discovered that you otherwise wouldn’t see in bland publisher meeting rooms, including men dressed as warrior mages.
Ryan King, Editor, Play
Bring food. Having apples and crisps in your bag might make you feel like a kid with a packed lunch but the main food hall is miles away from everything else and the brave souls that do push their food carts near the exhibition halls are always swamped. Having food with you saves a massively long and horrible detour.
Bring a back-up dictaphone. Every journalist has at least one horror story involving dictaphones and mine was last year during Gamescom when I had an entire interview lost thanks to a previously unknown longplay setting recording the interview at the wrong speed. Being the tedious and pedantic person I am, I now record every interview on my Smartphone too. Grab a free recording app and test it before the show. I use iRecord for Android – basic but free.
Be wary of hotel conferences: I’ve made that sound needlessly alarmist but what I mean is take into account the extra time it takes to leave the main Gamescom area to leg it to a hotel area across the road (or rather, in games journalist style, walk while grumbling about having to walk). Back-to-back appointments are possible within the main Gamescom halls but the added ten minutes to leave for a hotel across the road and come back will knock your schedule out of sync. Allow some extra time or move those appointments to the end of the day.
Adam Merrett UK PR manager, Capcom
Arrive on the Monday so you are fresh and ready for the start of the seemingly growing and popular publisher press conferences taking place on the Tuesday.
Hollie Bennett, PR executive, Namco Bandai
Try your hardest to not overbook yourself – you’ll only get caught out when you realise that your next appointment is a five to ten minute walk from your current one, instantly making you late (no matter how fast you run).
If you don’t think you need to/want to/can make it to an appointment you have booked always try and let the PR know as soon as you can so they can try to fill that slot. No-shows cause a lot of stress and pretty much messes up everyone’s schedule.
Don’t rely on 3G or Wi-Fi to access your Gamescom meeting schedule on your phone or laptop – the 3G and wireless can be dodgy at the best of times so always carry a printed copy.
Don’t underestimate the heat – it was absolutely boiling last year and while us industry types were able to spend most of it hiding in the business area, it’s sensible to stay hydrated. Even more so if you weren’t being very sensible the night before. And now is not the time to be showing off your fancy new footwear – pop something comfortable on your feet or you’ll regret it.
Stefano Petrullo, Senior PR Manager, Ubisoft
Be sure to avoid to the crowded consumer area.
Meetings in the business area are heavenly compared to E3 – make sure to concentrate all of your meetings into the first day.
Beer lovers should be warned that there are no pint glasses in general, so expect only small glasses. Be sure to have lot of space on the table.
Late nights in Germany can be very late, be aware. Also the best meeting place at Gamescom is the Irish Pub in the city centre.
Try pork knuckles for dinner at least once.
Sam Collins, Head of Commercial, UKIE
Plan your time carefully. You, or the person you’re meeting, will most likely run late so make sure you’ve built in enough time. One way to reduce the risk of missing people is to have a base. The bars and cafes are OK but never guarantee a seat.
If you want to do it properly you should consider joining UKIE on the UK industry stand. For a reasonable fee you can use the open shared space, dedicated Wi-Fi, use of a printer and free drinks. The stand is managed by UKIE staff so if you’re late or still in a meeting we’ll look after your guest until you arrive or become available.
Jon Hicks, Editor, OXM
Make sure that each appointment is to see something new rather than bothering with any E3 leftovers. Also remember that you might have to walk three miles between appointments, so properly check the map when arranging them.
Don’t spend all your time at that bloody Irish bar.
Matt Roche, UK PR executive, 2K Games
Get the Borderlands bus for free travel, and make sure you attend the 2K Games stand to see the latest on Borderlands 2, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and NBA 2K13.
Put your phone on vibrate – you?are more likely to feel it ring than hear it ring. If you buy a tower of beer, definitely don’t try and move it. And take a padlock to attach to the padlock bridge. Take a photo of it and send it to your other half, who will love you forever.
Mark Walton, Senior Staff Writer – Reviews, GameSpot UK
Get all your appointments booked well in advance, and make sure that on the day, all the information you need is in your diary. And I mean all the information: practicing the unpronounceable name of that obscure German simulator developer in advance does wonders for your first meeting. As a journalist, you’ll be traipsing around the cavernous Koelnmesse centre for hours on end, so make sure to pack light. A notepad, a camera for capturing cosplay, and the smallest laptop or tablet you can find. And while it may be a total babe magnet, that 17" Alienware rig is probably best left in the hotel room.
Eat well – or try to. As a vegetarian, Germany is not the best place in the world to eat. In fact, pretty much everything, even the stuff that is seemingly vegetarian has meat sprinkled joyously all over it. Keep an eye out for Ksesptzle, a delicious version of macaroni and cheese, and if all else fails, just repeat Ich bin Vegetarier” in your best German accent. Best to do that before the beer starts flowing, though.
Enjoy it. The press day at Gamescom is a lovely, calm affair where you walk through the halls of the Koelnmesse with a smile on your face and a spring in your step, ever grateful for this awesome job that’s been bestowed upon you.
Then the doors to the public are opened. DON’T PANIC. Sure, you’ll have thousands of sweaty German teenagers hurtling towards you at breakneck speeds for the duration of the show, but if you hold your breath and think of England, you’ll do fine.