Criticisms, the heat, and one hell of a community.
Rooster Teeth’s presence in Australia is fairly monumental, there’s no arguing. I still remember hearing about RTX some years ago and how great a success it’s been in Austin, Texas – Rooster Teeth’s native HQ. And so it made sense in the grand scheme of things to eventually bring the event over to Australia, given how much love Aussies have for Rooster Teeth. The community here is gargantuan, and over the weekend we finally had our first taste of RTX. It was a learning experience, first and foremost, but even with the expo’s various errors and stumbles – it’s clear that RTX AU will definitely be something to get excited about each year.
Having grouped up with a couple of my friends and consuming some well-needed morning Starbucks, we made our way over to Redfern for the expo. This year’s event took place at the Australian Technology Park, which made it incredibly easy to get to for novice Sydney-goers.
As we made our way inside the expo, one thing became immediately apparent – it was really, really freaking hot. Like, back sweat level hot. Nonetheless, I examined the hall that RTX encompassed, and took note of all of the major attractions, of which the most notable was the Doom Bar, which allowed the over 18’s to get their drink on, a handful of indie gaming booths I’d recognized from PAX Aus, the massive Rooster Teeth store, and the main stage. I was fairly happy with the layout, really. I was shocked, though, that during such a humid Saturday all of the doors were shut inside. There was no way to let air freely flow through the place, and as we passed various expo-goers, beads of sweat were visible on almost every one of them.
Of course, most people made use of their RTX guide to fashion a fan in an effort to help cool them down a bit, but it shouldn’t have had to come to that. There were coolers positioned at each end of the massive hall, but they were seemingly useless in such a big space.
Naturally, we wanted to check out the Doom bar first so we could get a couple of drinks in and hang out while the show just started to get going. And as we made our way over there, following one of my friends’ failed attempt to join in on a Joel Heyman autograph line, I was gobsmacked by the amount of lines stretching across from pretty much everywhere.
This became the most prominent thorn in RTX Australia’s side. While it’s understandable that lines were always going to be a thing, they became a real nuisance for almost everyone, whether you’re in a line or not. Some lines even disrupted the flow of traffic and as such made navigating the already steamy show floor all the more unbearable.
Furthermore, as a disclaimer: when all’s said and done I’m a pretty patient person, but I was quickly infuriated by how long it took to actually do anything at RTX. A friend and I waited in line for over an hour to get into the store so we could buy a couple of things, and even then we had to wait in four different sets of lines because of the confined space in the Technology Park. It was astounding, but I’m glad I wasn’t someone who had waited in line for autographs. I’ve heard horror stories of unfortunate expo-goers being sent away after waiting for hours and watching VIP ticket holders cut in and out as they please. It all alludes to a poor choice of venue, above all else.
Having not necessarily done anything of note, we decided to grab some necessary fresh air and have lunch. The stark contrast to how lovely it was outside following the rain and how steamy it was inside the hall was unreal. But it got much better when we returned – the doors were open, and I felt like a lot of people had already left, maybe out of line frustration or because of the overwhelming heat. It just felt more open, more like a con I could enjoy and not have to worry about the nasty beads of sweat that had found their way plummeting down my back during the morning.
Even so, there were still lines, and the volunteers (guardians) were seemingly helpful most of the time. I did hear about some of them being a little unpleasant, but we have to take into account that they are dealing with a steamy, fully-filled expo hall with almost no respite for hours on end. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to bear it, and most of the guardians I briefly spoke to seemed to be in fairly good spirits.
Another notable problem with this year’s event was that there wasn’t any viable way to get water when you were inside the expo. The Doom bar had water, but you needed to be over 18 to enter, so a lot of the younger kids at the expo had to get up and leave the expo hall to go and rehydrate themselves. I was fairly alarmed by this, and considering the long, stretchy lines of people decorating the hall – water would have been very useful.
Even in the subjective doom and gloom a lot of us felt for the first RTX in Australia, this year’s event still had a lot of great moments. The best part about the expo was obviously the panels, which saw most of Rooster Teeth’s well-known personalities take to the stage to do Q&A’s, play video games against each other, and conduct their respective podcasts. It was a great experience to see some of my favourite online personalities in the flesh, and to see them do their thing. In essence, the gathering of people and those up on stage all moulded into one cumulative thing – a real sense of togetherness. Everyone that had attended was there for, well, Rooster Teeth. It was awesome, and I loved being a part of that energy above all else.
As well as this, Twitch set up a broadcast to stream all of the panels on the main stage live across the internet, so those who missed out on the event could still be a part of the experience and check out some of the panels, which is always a bonus.
One of the biggest detractors of this year’s event, minus the lines and the heat, was that there just wasn’t that much to do. Mind you, the panels and the signings were the primary components here, but in between panels and giving up on autograph lines, you were tentatively fairly limited in what you could do at the event. There were a few indie developers showing off their games, but even beyond that you were restricted to drinking at the Doom bar, playing CS:GO, buying memorabilia, or going outside and taking in the fresh air. Perhaps if some more developers and publishers had jumped onto this there would have been more of a reason to hang around, but that just wasn’t the case. Space would have also been an issue, I’m sure. And given next year’s event is situated at Darling Harbour’s International Convention Centre, which is much bigger, I’m hoping we may see a bit more of everything – video games, stalls, interactive entertainment, bars, the lot.
But hey, at its best, and during the majority of the panels, I quite enjoyed my time at RTX this year. It’s a learning experience, of course, and we have to take that into account. Next year should be bigger, better, and more enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
Image credit: PCPowerPlay. I should have really snapped a few photos while I was there!