On the 17th of October, the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center (RICEC) played host to the fifth annual Sony Gamer's Day. I managed to attend the first day and get an overall impression of the event. I apologize in advance about the article being more about the cultural phenomenon of the convention and less about the actual games. Also, forgive the poor quality photos because I had to take them with my cellphone camera.
First, let’s get the good out of the way. The move to RICEC, even if only a single area was rented out from the several that are available, was a huge step up from the tiny hotel floor space of TGXPO. The convention space was a nice 48x75 meters room with several games getting multiple demo stalls. Entry to the convention was free but required a simple Eventbrite registration which entitled you to a free PSN Plus subscription. Despite being a Sony-only event, the lineup of upcoming games was considerably more impressive than the minimal offerings from last year, including but not limited to: Tomb Raider, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Hitman Absolution, Assassin’s Creed 3, WWE ’13, Little Big Planet Karting, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Wonderbook, Epic Mickey 2, Ni no Kuni, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. We also got two guests this time in the form of head Tekken producer Katsushiro Harada and former wrestler Mick Foley, who were here to promote the newest games in their respective franchises.
Unfortunately, while this all sounds great in theory, the execution is where things went downhill. I arrived at the exhibition center half an hour after the convention started and met up with a friend. Once again the organizers were overwhelmed by the incredible amount of attendees who swarmed around the entrance. It turns out that about an hour earlier people started showing up and the exhibition staff discovered that the system for reading the registration tickets’ QR code had crashed. Eventually, the crowds got fed up of waiting and forced their way past the paltry security and into the convention. The exhibition floor of course quickly filled up and the organizers were forced to close the doors to prevent more people from entering. It didn’t take long of course for some of the crowds to get really rowdy. Banging repeatedly on the doors, busting locks and breaking part of the gate partition are just some of the assorted acts of vandalism that went down.
GCON took over and reorganized it into two exclusive women days in November, with the stipulation that no one would be allowed to attend both days.