What a long and totally up my own arse title, eh? But hey, I know a lot of people where RTX London is going to be their first RTX and although Austin is and will always be very different, many things will remain the same. So I'm gonna start by talking about what Austin, (in my opinion), got right and wrong:
This year was the 7th (?) RTX. So by this point they've got the hang of it but this year was organised by new people.
What Was Good?
Reminding you all, I was a VIP for this experience. The VIP Lounge was a lovely, chilled area for those who maybe needed a break from the action but wanted to stay in the venue. People were respectful of the quiet and they had a great arcade area.
The exhibition hall, although crowded (expectantly), was laid out fabulously once you got your bearings and artists alley was filled with incredibly talented people. The arcade was constantly packed but crowds of people would surround a machine when someone was playing well.
The atmosphere of the whole event was amazing. Everyone was excited and happy to speak to people; cosplayers were willing to take photos with everyone and it didn't feel like anyone was ever pushing their way to make it to that one RT member or special guest that happened to be walking the floor. Pre-panel parties are officially my new favourite thing.
Finally, the guardians did an excellent job of keeping everyone's spirits up and looking after all of the attendees. During waits for panels they would offer water and make sure everyone was doing okay.
What Was Not So Good?
Lines. Queues. Whatever you want to call it, they weren't great. And I'm British. We're born for queuing. The registration line (I didn't have this problem) took far too long for some guests to the point panels, centre stage events and even signings were missed. The line for the exhibition hall on the first day was stupidly long and thankfully they fixed it with the help of more metal detectors but even then it was crazy. Safety is good. Security is good. People missing lunch and in the heat? Not so good. Also, the AH Escape Room had a 4 and a half hour waiting time. Jesus.
What happened to VIP? When buying my VIP ticket, the selling point was queue skipping and priority seating. Well the priority seating happened, but queue skipping? Nope. For RT Podcast alone, I arrived 2 hours early and was stuck in a separate "unofficial" line because I was told there was no queue for the panel yet...except there was. And it was let in. Not once did people ask for VIPs to go first. The only time this queue skipping function seemed to work was for Theatre Mode Live where a guardian helpfully told me to go straight to the front and get a wrist band. I get it's unfair on other guests but...we paid over $500...for our tickets alone... Don't offer something that isn't available?m Separate queues were made for some panels for VIP holders which is a great idea if queue skipping isn't what they want. But...do one or the other guys?
Whilst still griping about the VIP thing, likewise, priority seating. PRIORITY. Within a panel there are 3 sections of seating: Exhibitioners/Special Guests/RT Family etc, VIPs and finally general seating. After incidents on Friday of special seating not being used, on Saturday they decided that if 5 minutes before a panel majority of the special seating isn't being used, the attendees can. Let's Play panel guardians executed this efficiently and effectively: moving us seating row at a time up until it was full. General attendees could then sit in some of the VIP seats, great! RT Podcast and Off Topic panel was mayhem! Those of us who had waited in line for hours and arrived early were told we could move up after a certain time limit when people from either side of the room suddenly started sprinting towards the special seating. Unfair and dangerous. A guardian then allowed the public to sit in VIP seating if they so choosed to move. Hundreds of bodies moved towards the seating causing so many people to lose their seat in general and had to sit at the back. It was disorganised and shouldn't have happened.
What the f*ck (excuse my language) happened on Sunday? Off Topic happened. For Friday and Saturday there was a no queuing until 2 hours before the panel rule, on Sunday that went straight out of the window when Off Topic panel was allowed to line up and be let in to the room 3 and a half hours before the panel began. This caused people to leave panels they were already in that hadn't even started yet to go queue for something that wasn't happening for another 3 hours. It was unfair on the guests and unfair on those members who were holding the panels. MDB panel lost over 50 people an hour before the panel had started so they could go line up for it. It shouldn't have happened.
So those are my main gripes. Now, if it's gonna be your first RTX, here's what you should know and prepare for:
- Bring water and snacks.
If you are a weekend ticketer you are going to be queuing a hell of a lot longer than VIP guests because your seat is not saved. Stay hydrated no matter where your RTX is and staying on your feet all day, you're gonna get hungry.
- Pick only 2/3 "Must See" panels.
The app is fabulous for organising this. You will not get to see everything you want to see. Don't be afraid to see the smaller panels as well, sometimes they're the best! And don't pick panels that back to back each other - you're probably not getting in. Don't be disappointed if you don't get in either, there are plenty of things to do!
- Don't be afraid to talk to people but don't be offended if they don't want to talk to you.
Lines are great for talking to people and making new friends so don't be scared to start up a conversation with people. You have something in common already. But do not be offended if they don't want to speak back to you or are on their phone. Some people have anxiety and struggle with it. Or (personal issues time) for me, someone was moaning how I was on my phone the whole of a line and not talking, my brother had just been in a serious car accident, I was waiting for updates from home. You don't know why people are on their phones so don't expect them to be as confident as you.
- Know where you need to be and when and where you are.
Nothing is worse than not knowing where the panel you want to see is so make sure you explore the venue first and know where you are in relation to the room you need. And if you need food, know where that is too else you will starve and die.
- Don't buy too many things unless you are comfortable carrying it & know you can get it home.
If you're going to buy the life-size replica of the Master Sword, make sure you're cool with carrying it around all day and know you can get it home safely. The venue will be cramped. Things get damaged. It happens. You also will have to be prepared to take it to panels. There's no special area for people's shopping so be reasonable.
- Don't be a dickhead.
We all hate slow walkers. We all hate people who just stand in the way. Don't stop in the middle of the hallway or the floor. If you wanna take a photo with someone, go to a location that isn't in people's way. The other attendees have places to be too and are just as excited as you. Just use your common sense. Be nice to people.
- Don't be nasty or rude to the Guardians.
They do their best and they do a damn good job. All they want is for you to have a great time and be safe. They look after you no matter what. And they have the power to take away your badge so I suggest being as lovely to them as you can. Remember, they are fans too, they aren't hired help.
- Don't be rude or nasty to RT members and Special Guests.
They're people too. They know you're excited but they have their boundaries too. Always ask before touching them, hugging them or doing anything. They will always be happy to chat to you but even then they might suffer from anxiety or struggle with socialising; they still love that you're a fan but some just like to know it from afar.
- HAVE FUN.
I can't express this enough. Although we all want to meet our favourite RT member and pretend they're our best friend, there are real best friends to be made at RTX. There are so many fun things to do. It's a chance to experience something new and step out of your comfort zone while surrounded by things you love. You don't just have to spend time at the venue either! Explore the surrounding area with people! Just don't set your heart on everything RT. Signings, panels and spontaneous meet and greets are great but nothing beats being surrounded by thousands of people you love.
I know these are things people say a thousand times before. It's been 7 years for goodness sake. But for some it's still new. It's still their first time. And for my friends who are reading this and will be at RTXL, I'll let you know when you're being a dick.