Enthusiast Gaming Live’ exhibition, lovingly named “EGLX”, had its first run this past weekend (April 29 – May 1) in Toronto, Canada. I attended 2 of the 3 days and took the chance to see everything I could. According to their website, EGLX considers themselves to be Canada’s “first foray into the world of large-scale gaming conventions, representing three distinct pillars of gaming culture: Festival, Makers, and Tournaments.” The festival part of this trifecta refers to online celebrities, cosplay, vendors, and basically anything that isn’t a studio or eSport event.
When you first walk into the venue, the first thing you’ll notice is the massive Xbox presence courtesy of World Gaming. As you make your way throughout the front of the venue, you’ll get to experience some killer indie games from local developers, and vendors with art, mystery boxes, t-shirts, and all the other regular gaming related items you’d see at any other con, such as PAX East or NYCC. You may even get an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia when you walk past their retro gaming area, complete with old-school systems and arcade cabinets.
The venue isn’t massive, and I’d say the vendors and developers took up about half of the public space. I say “public space” because there was a very, very large area that was dedicated specifically to competitors – without a competitor badge, you couldn’t even get passed security if you tried! Now, I haven’t been to very many eSports events – the Halo Championships at 2014’s PAX East being the most recent – however, the first thing I noticed was that every time I visited the main stage, the tournaments that were going on weren’t actually taking place on the main stage, despite being advertised as such in the schedule. With so many well known competitors, it would’ve been nice to see the CS:GO, Call of Duty, League of Legends, or Halo matches actually take place on the main stage. I had many media appointments, so perhaps I missed a match or two – so correct me if I’m wrong here – but it seemed like every match (other than the Street Fighter V finals) was broadcast on the screen of the main stage, but the actual players were physically located more than 100 feet away in the competitor-only zone. To me, this took a lot away from the experience because I genuinely enjoy watching people play – watch their facial expressions, their body language, their smiles when they are doing great – so having the competitors so far away was really disappointing. I may be able to cut some slack when it comes to LoL or CS:GO since these require the competitor’s own computers, however, I don’t see a reason as to why the Call of Duty and Halo games weren’t taking place on the stage itself.
Day 2 was a lot like Day 1, with the addition of a VR expo. With virtual reality becoming so popular, I thought this would be an incredible opportunity. Sadly, it was a time-consuming disappointment. Not so much on the gaming side of things, but more so on the organization side of this. Firstly, the expo was booked for a 2-hour period of time and was implied that you’d get to check out each of the ten games we were told would be on display. When I got there, the line was so long, that based on my experience with lines at PAX, there was NO WAY everyone was going to get in. What was most surprising to me is that nobody opted to go to a point in the line and close it down, so everyone just lining up, blocking indie booths and the entire cosplay / online celebrity areas. Once you did get in – almost 30 minutes late – there was more like 5 VR games available to play. Then, after playing the first game for 1-2 minutes (which I voluntarily ended early to let others play), we were told that we were actually only able to try one of the games. Overall, the virtual reality experience seemed poorly executed and mismanaged.
I think that calling EGLX the first of its kind is a bit of a stretch with other local events such as Anime North, Fan Expo, comic cons, and the Canadian Championships. With that being said, its eSports presence was unprecedented in Canadian cons, in my opinion. With that being said, I still have mixed feelings overall. Some aspects – the indie developers, retro gaming area, and vendors – were definitely on par with what you’d expect, while other areas – eSports and VR expo, specifically – were quite disappointing.
Did you go to EGLX? If so, what were your thoughts? Leave a comment below to let me know.