Hate might be a bit of a strong word, but, if you’re like me and have no interest in watching people play video games competitively, it gets my point across. Don’t get me wrong, I love coming home after a long day at work and sitting down to some Destiny 2 PvP, but there’s something about watching multiple people battle it out on a 50 square foot projector screen that really puts me to sleep. It just isn’t my cup of tea.
I have attended DreamHack Austin for the last two years. The first year was an absolute snooze-fest. I was miserable and couldn’t wait to get back home. Considering I’ve attended dozens of conventions, I can absolutely say that my experience at DreamHack Austin 2017 was the worst I’ve ever had. But, that’s only because I don’t enjoy eSports. Given my previous negative experience, I had to be cajoled into attending DreamHack Austin this year. But, with the promise of free tickets and the fact that this year was promised to be larger and grander, I gave it another chance. I wasn’t disappointed.
One thing to keep in mind, is that even though you may be going to an eSports event, there are plenty of other things to do outside of watching people play video games. Seriously, there are a butt-ton of other options for entertainment at these conventions that most people may overlook.
First and fore-most, bring a few friends along. Friends that you really like to hang out with and who are enthusiastic about eSports. With great company, even the most boring activities can be fun. And, you may find that your friends’ excitement can be rather infectious.
You’re also bound to meet new people. People from all walks of life come to these events because they usually have one thing in common: eSports. For many people, eSports is an important part of their lives. As such, you may gain a new appreciation for the franchise by just striking up a few conversations with people. If you want to learn more about why eSports matters, But Why Tho? hosts Kate, Matt, and Adrian with the help of special guest Terrence Miller (a professional Hearthstone player) talk about how the competition has grown and some of the issues that have formed – check it out here.
There are always vendors around with a plethora of nerdy stuff to ogle at and buy. Seeing 15 ft walls filled with nerdy t-shirts is honestly my greatest weakness. So, if you’re lacking any nerdy paraphernalia, look no further. Many of the larger companies that attend these events often hold multiple raffles over the course of the weekend. In fact, I entered a raffle and won a bundle of Hyper X gear which I am super stoked to use. Free stuff is always great. I can’t tell you how many free t-shirts I collected over three days.
Cosplay isn’t as common at these conventions which is very sad. But, as an avid cosplayer, I had to dress up even if it was only once out of the three days. Many of these conventions also have cosplay contests if you’re hoping to show-off your newest creation and get some praise. Just don’t expect a whole lot of people to be walking around in cosplay all day.
There are plenty of snacks and food to buy at the event but, given the prices, I would recommend bringing your own. I’m a candy fiend and you’ll always find me packing all sorts of candy into my cargo shorts (imagine a squirrel prepping for winter). Seriously, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t wear cargo shorts – yes, I know they’re not fashionable.
Given these conventions are all about playing games, there are usually areas where you can play games for free. DreamHack this year offered a console free-play area, an arcade game area, and a large section for indy game creators just looking for someone to sit down and test out their video game baby.
You can also ditch the eSports event and explore the surrounding city. Austin is a wonderful city with all sorts of options for good food, drinks, and entertainment. Right around the convention center, you can find various restaurants and bars. However, if you’re looking for stores to peruse, you’ll have to go a bit farther. In fact, the best store in Austin is a candy store by the name of Big Top (I wasn’t kidding when I said I loved candy) and you should totally check it out.
You can also bring your own entertainment for those times your friends are really into a competition but you’re not. A.K.A., when your only choice is to suck it up and deal with it. Bring a DS, a PSP, a good book, or just your phone will suffice. For any convention you attend, there will always be times where there’s nothing to do but entertain yourself so it’s best to be prepared for some down time.
You may even start to enjoy yourself if you find the right game. You’re going to have a horrible time if you sit down to watch a video game tournament that you have no understanding of. So, find a game you do understand or have had previous experience with. For me, this was the PUBG tournament which so happened to be one of the biggest tournaments at DreamHack.
If anything, just give an eSports convention a try. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. No one can expect you to like everything. But, if you do fall in love with it… you’re welcome.