Covering major gaming conventions takes a lot more effort, equipment and time management skills then the regular posts that we produce on this site. As I am writing this post I am sitting in the Calgary International Airport waiting for the first leg of my trip to Boston, MA and I thought I might give our readers a bit of insight into what it takes to cover a major convention with thousands of attendees, dozens upon dozens of exhibitors and only one chance to get everything right.
I guess the first rule of convention coverage for a smaller site like ours is pack light and be agile. I take every opportunity to ensure that all of my equipment, clothes, chargers and other tech goodies fit on my carry-on. When covering a short convention like PAX East one flight delay or long wait waiting for checked baggage can make the difference between making an appointment and missing an opportunity to connect with one of our colleagues.
In terms of equipment, I try to keep my footprint light – I use my iPhone 5S to shoot HD video with a pair of lapel microphones and use a 2013 Macbook Air to edit video and post it while working in the field. This might not be the best combination of tools, surely a dedicated camcorder could provide higher fidelity video, but since Im using an entirely Apple friendly setup getting my video up and on time is pretty easy.
I also make sure to have back-ups for most of my tech, this means carrying a 32GB Windows Tablet for writing articles incase my MacBook Air happens to run out of juice and carrying an extra phone for shooting video if my iPhone should happen to die. Portable batteries are also an excellent investment for any aspiring Games Journalists – the 3000MHA one I have provides enough juice to charge my phone twice over and can even give my tablet a jumpstart should I need it.
My next tip would be – manage your workflow and time efficiently. Getting to the event on time is great but if you’ve messed up your schedule then your coverage plans might be completely fucked. You might have noticed that our GDC coverage was a little sporadic during the show – it was a good lesson that you need to space things out just a bit to account for the unforeseen. Should a developer be late, filming take a bit longer or that great piece you’re writing just need a little bit more polish it can put your timetable behind.
My last tip is stay hydrated and wear excellent footwear. This advice isn’t just for those of us who cover major events but also for regular attendees as well. Remember that you are going to be standing for hours upon hours walking around a packed convention hall, keeping your body hydrated is super important to avoid heatstroke and a good pair of shoes will do wonders for your feet the days after the commotion of a convention have ended.
We have some great plans for Boston this weekend – look forward to recap podcasts, exclusive videos, hands on impressions and more from the 2016 Penny Arcade Expo!