Be sure to come prepared

I’ve been to a fair number of conventions, and I think it is safe to say that I believe that in terms of presentation, BlizzCon does it best. Stepping through the Anaheim Convention Center’s exhibition hall doors, attendees are treated to a darkened auditorium, and colorful lights abound. Surprisingly – especially for an event that is known for selling out the day tickets go on sale – the convention floor is failrly uncluttered, and open floor space is everywhere.

These open prairies, however, are the façade of what I learned to be a terrible, terrible secret: the lines will kill you.

Attendees unfortunate enough not to hold a press badge will have to stand in lines to do practically anything. Diablo III? Big line. Want to pick up one of those sweet Jinx t-shirts? Almost-as-big line.

Want to buy the exlusive BlizzCon merchandise at the Blizzard store?

God help you.

I waited four and a half hours. Four and a half hours! To buy stuff! What is this, the Apple store?

At the very least, Blizzard could have done more to entertain us while we waited.

For those of us waiting at the merchant stand nearest the stage, the good news is that we had a chance to view the contests and developer panels as they occurred. Part of our view, however, was obscured by walls showcasing products. It was bad enough that people would jam the lines as they neared one of these walls, because they wanted to watch the stage. All this lead to angry shouts of “MOVE UP!!!” and the person these slurs were directed at – I’ll admit, I was guilty of this a few times – sheepily skittered forward, but only as far as necessary to continue watching the screen.

Blizzard could have remedied this, of course, by putting one of its gigantic, omnipotent screens at eye level, for the line folks to watch. A mid-line snack bar would have been nice; and God help the poor soul that needs to use the restroom – or, worse, the items they wanted were sold out!

There are worse lines, of course – the Heroes line at this years’ Comic-Con was about two miles long, wrapping all the way around the back of the huge San Diego Convention Center – but I only stood in it for an hour. More time was spent finding the end of that line.

Compared to the hustle and bustle of ComicCon, or dare I say, pre-2006 E3, BlizzCon is anything but claustrophic. I have to commend Blizzard for the atmosphere – the dimmed ambience, the colorful lighting, the abundance of open space, and the oversized product logos glowing quietly above the groups of fans are wonderful touches. But where are the hordes (heh, pun) of fans that I’m supposed to be pushing through to get anywhere?

They’re all standing in lines.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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