RTX Sydney 2018 Review
by Dylan Blight
From the moment I entered the cool corridors of Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC), something was different this year. For RTX -- now in its third year in Australia -- last year's event was huge, featuring Hideo Kojima and Nintendo’s yet to be released console, the Nintendo Switch, both featuring and being main attraction atop the usual RTX fair. This year, however, those immediate elements of wow were blatantly missing.
If you’ve wandered into RTX thinking it’s like any other geek-culture convention in Australia, you’d be quickly mistaken. The floor is like a small market, and the majority of cosplay is for the Rooster Teeth anime, RWBY. This is no Comic-Con.
The con floor itself featured your usual fair of shops, from a Good Games stall to the Hanabee booth. Pop culture gear was covered from video games, anime, and comics through to board games. The assortment of each was enough to hold your attention for a short period of time before moving on -- unless you were purchasing something. A stall on the west side of the hall did feature long boxes of comics and older generations of video games to search through -- if that’s something that takes your fancy. But the majority of the shops didn’t offer much to scour through.
Dodging the two (yes, two) stalls set up in each end of the hall trying to get you to sign up for paintball, you could find an artist alley near the west-side food hall, opposite the Rooster Teeth store. The store itself was in the same spot as last year and used the same system of moderately letting people through from a line, although if you hung around until late Sunday you could probably pick up what you wanted, discounted, and without wasting time lining up.
A handful of video games were on show including Projection, which we previewed (see below), Super One More Jump and Death Squared, along with a couple other indies that I would have loved to check out, but always seemed to be surrounded by people. A VR game attracted my attention, but I was quick to decide it wasn’t worth hanging around for when I saw the headset was never being cleaned between users. Compared to the last con I attended, PAX AUS, this was not acceptable. The biggest line for a game I saw all weekend was to try out Dell's VR headset, the Visor, which was being used to play an assortment of VR games. Whether they were cleaning the headset, I didn’t see, but I sure hope so.
RTX is all about the guests though, and seeing your favourite Rooster Teeth, Achievement Hunter or star of RWBY is the reason people attend. This year Sugar Pine 7 was also attending, having recently been bought by Rooster Teeth, and they were my personal spotlight of attendance.
However, for an event where the main attraction is watching people on stages either doing live Let’s Plays or panels, RTX sure chose to make that a pain this year, unless you had paid for an expensive VIP ticket. Where last year all the panels, bar the Hideo interview, were held in conference rooms down the hall, this year they all took place on one stage. Well, nearly all -- a select few were held in conference rooms, but were 'VIP entry' only. Several things made this situation bad: the first being that the limited number of seats were reserved for VIPs, which meant basically no one got a seat for an hour-long panel. The second is that the live panel area was set up adjacent to the Let’s Play panel and in front of the Mwave and Razer booths, which was a mess. Unless you were seated perfectly in the speaker set up for the stage, you would catch messy bleed from the other stage, and were bound to catch someone yelling at either Mwave or Razer. Why weren’t the panels held in the same way as last year? I have no idea. They had at least rented out the rooms necessary for the VIP stuff. Even then, leaving it in its current set-up, why were the Mwave and Razer booths both situated so close to the panel stage? Two booths guaranteed to make a lot of noise? It’s poor planning of the floor space.
Burnie Burns, CCO of Rooster Teeth said 2018 is ‘the year of the community’ on stage during an event, and it’s hard to feel like that’s true with the very drastic step backwards in the organisation of RTX this year. It certainly left much to be desired in terms of planning.
With all that said, when you finally do manage to settle into a panel or a Let’s Play session, and you're a fan of Achievement Hunter, Funhaus, Rooster Teeth or the many other acts present, it is, of course, fantastic to see people live and in-person. My personal favourite panel was the public Sugar Pine 7 QnA where they answered some serious questions about their content and future plans. My runner-up: the RWBY panel. Feeling the excitement of fans standing around me, the joy of asking questions to Barb, Lindsay or Anna was fantastic. The absolute excitement coming off some fans in cosplay asking questions puts a smile on my face.
Rooster Teeth Expo is really hard to compare to any other cons in Australia I’ve attended. I feel like the most similar thing would have to be VidCon, but I’ve never experienced one of those. It’s not a con made for the floor space -- it’s made for the live aspect, be that the panels or the Let's Plays, and in that regard, they put on a show for their fans, but this year even that part was a mess. I hope next year is a step forward, not backwards.