RTX Australia Was Humid, Sweaty And Frustrating As Hell

Do you ever wonder why we’re here?

I wondered a bit as I stood in line for a line for The Patch panel, unable to see past the con attendees who loomed above me on all sides. A volunteer corralled us, repeating lines learnt by rote. “This is the end of the line for The Patch. Line up here if you are here for The Patch. Please be aware that if you are past this point you will not be guaranteed entry.” Through the forest of people, I eyed the line for X-Ray and Vav across the way. Would I have a better chance of actually seeing something over there?

This was Red vs Blue creator Rooster Teeth’s first international convention, held at the Australian Technology Park over the weekend. And as with any new endeavour on such a scale, there were bound to be problems.

American production company Rooster Teeth holds over 8.4 million subscribers across its YouTube channels, with Australians their largest fan base outside of the US. Their annual internet and gaming convention, RTX, has grown from 600 attendees in 2011 to 45,000 in 2015. This weekend the convention left Texas for the first time to come to Sydney.

Kicking off with a keynote speech by Good Game’s Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen, the weekend featured signature and photo opportunities with internet personalities, panels, live Let’s Plays and live podcast recordings. Panels ranged from pure gaming and entertainment, to insights into working in gaming media and how to build an online community. The usual booths selling anime and gaming paraphernalia were present, and Australian indie developers showed off their games in the Exhibition Hall (including Jared Hahn, developer of Mori; Craftven, developers of Lupinball; and Shadowplay Studios, developers of Projection).

However the main attraction were the personalities from Rooster Teeth. First made famous by their machinima series Red vs Blue, Rooster Teeth has since branched out to Let’s Plays, shorts, cartoons, gaming news, game shows, podcasts and most recently their first feature length film, Lazer Team. Attendees flocked to the convention hoping to get a signature and maybe even a photograph with personalities such as Rooster Teeth founders Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Joel Heyman, Matt Hullum and Geoff Ramsey; voice actors of anime RWBY Lindsay Jones and Barbara Dunkelman; and stars of Lazer Team Gavin Free and Michael Jones. The promise of being in the live audience for their favourite online shows and shaking hands with their internet idols had eager fans chomping at the bit.

However, though the event kicked off with an air of excitement and enthusiasm, the Twitter hashtag was soon filled with complaints.

Though the Theatre Room and Panel Room were air conditioned, the Centre Stage and Exhibition Floor were sweltering. “Stay hydrated” was the watchword, replacing "have fun" in the volunteers' lexicon. The most popular panels were held on the Centre Stage, turning the area into a muggy mass of sticky limbs. At one point I turned around to see someone in a fursuit staring straight at me, stretching open their sleeve to air their hairy armpit at one of the few cooling machines. That memory will haunt my dreams.

Only three places sold food at the convention, the ‘Food Trucks’ on the map being more ‘Food Truck’. A few free cups of Nuka-Cola were handed out to those in line at the Fallout Chillout Zone, but the line for food was even more off-putting than my hunger, so I went without.

There were also many complaints of a lack of seating and people camping seats at the Centre Stage. While attendees were ushered out of the Theatre Room and Panel Room at the conclusion of a panel, forcing them to join the back of the line if they wished to see the next event in that room, the crowd at the Centre Stage was stagnant. This is largely understandable, as moving such a large mass of people all at once onto the Exhibition Hall floor would cause chaos. Nevertheless, as a result many people camped out on their seats and refused to move between panels. Those luckless people who missed out on a chair were forced to crowd around the periphery, sitting on the floor or standing for hours. I lost my seat when I succumbed to the need for a bathroom (curse you, hydration). People who attended with friends were at a distinct advantage – I witnessed three attendees rotate two chairs between themselves, allowing them to see the booths or get food and then return to their seats. The situation inside the age-restricted Doom Bar was not much better.

Gus had a prolapsed anus.

However the biggest complaints were regarding the queues. Though queueing is to be expected at a convention, lines folded back upon themselves multiple times at every panel and signing, as well as to get into the venue itself. Attendees were forced to line up for hours, skipping several other panels while in line, with no guarantee their patience would pay off. There were literal lines for lines. On the second day attendees began queueing to enter the venue before 7:00am, despite the doors opening at 10:00am and the first panel starting at 10:30am.

One of the worst lines was the queue for the queue to get into the Rooster Teeth store. Some people lined up for hours only to find that when they finally made it into the store what they wanted was sold out.

Many fans missed out on signings despite waiting for hours. I do not know the exquisite pain of standing for hours on end in the hopes of meeting an online personality only to be turned away, because I pre-empted my disappointment and stood for hours at the panels instead. It was just as well - lines were capped as soon as they opened, the first ones of the day filled before the majority of the crowd had even been allowed to enter the building. To those optimists who stood in line, I salute you.

Disappointed con attendees attributed the brunt of the issues to the VIP system. Rooster Teeth sold 100 $400 VIP tickets (though there are rumours that a glitch caused more to be allocated). These tickets granted entry for both days, early access to the floor, access to a VIP party and access to a VIP line for signing. In effect, it allowed VIP ticket holders to skip lines, meaning that many non-VIPS did not get to meet the personalities despite arriving early and lining up for hours. There were even reports of VIPS meeting multiple personalities, while regular con attendees ended the weekend empty-handed.

The VIP system also meant there were many empty seats reserved for VIPs. A fleet of comfortable-looking blue chairs sat vacant at the front of the Centre Stage while others were forced to sit on the floor or stand around the perimeter, jostling for vision. I left the Prop Hunt Let’s Play after my neck began aching from craning, reasoning that I would get a better view by watching the recorded Twitch stream at home.

The volunteers made efforts to ensure as many people got signatures as possible, however their methods made some VIPs unhappy.

Other organisational issues soon became apparent as well, causing confusion amongst both attendees and volunteers.

To their credit, the personalities at the event handled the situation with grace and made an effort to see as many fans as they could. The heat became a running joke at the Centre Stage panels, and several impromptu signing and photograph sessions were held on the floor. You had to be in the right place at the right time, but fans were appreciative.

Unfortunately they too were crowded.

A less prominent issue was the Diversity in Gaming panel. Though the panel was well-intentioned, the diversity panel’s ironic lack of diversity was glaring, being comprised of three able-bodied white LGBTQA people, two of them male. While the panellists did mention issues of race and gender, the panel as it was comprised would have been better titled ‘Sexuality in Gaming’. It was uncomfortable listening to three white people tell the audience how to combat racism while not even acknowledging the position they were in.

It was also notable that RTXAU had a diversity panel and a Ladies of Rooster Teeth panel, and has been making noises about addressing diversity in their productions, yet their first big feature film Lazer Team - the vehicle through which many will be introduced to them - was terrible regarding diversity and representation of women. As a result, the noise appeared to be just that – noise.

Many people were disappointed and unhappy with the convention, and some left early as a result.

All of us were there because we love Rooster Teeth. Both fortunately and unfortunately, Rooster Teeth has many, many admirers. I don't wish to be overly negative - I still enjoyed myself. Witnessing a live filming of Rooster Teeth’s Off Topic podcast was a joy I had not previously contemplated experiencing. I just wish my enjoyment wasn't “despite”. Though RTXAU was disappointing in some respects, many attendees still had fun and left hoping that the issues this year were only teething problems. Let’s just hope that organisers take their fans’ feedback into account for next year.

RTXAU will be back on 3-4 February 2017, at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. It will have air conditioning.

Top image: The line to get into the building.

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Comments

    Pretty much assumed it would be this way, hence I decided to skip it. The unfortunate reality is that no matter how big the event and how much variety was offered in the panels, the most popular areas will always be overcrowded. RTX could solve this by simply selling less tickets, but that would probably just piss off all the people who miss out and make the convention less economically viable.

    If I decide to buy tickets for next year, I think I'll spring for the VIP pass which I believe includes priority queuing and an after-party with the crew. It'll make me stress a lot less about seeing stuff (which is streamed via twitch and rehosted on youtube later anyway) and focus on enjoying being there.

    On the upside, Lazer Team premieres tonight, which I do have tickets to!

    You can replace RTX with Supanova, AMC (formerly Armageddon), Comic con, PAX Aus or any other convention that is run in this country. It's always too hot, badly organized, filled with obnoxious VIP pass holders, lines going on forever, etc.

    But that's conventions all around the world. Once you get a lot of human bodies into one space, the place heats up. Without limiting the amount of people that are allowed to attend each day, the heat issue will always happen.

    Bad organization comes from a lack of communication. A simple ear piece/walkie talkie system might help in most cases, but nothing can be helped if there isn't enough people on hand to deal with issues as they pop up.

    VIP passes need to go. Either everyone lines up as equals or not at all. VIP passes are greedy and delay things more often than not. If there is VIP seating at an event and no one shows, then give the seats to the regular people who are standing at the back or in isles or where ever. Reward the people who give a shit, not just those with deep pockets.

    Finally... Lines. There will always be lines. Get used to it. Try dealing with these lines with a bad back, 2 bad knees and having to carry around 10kgs+ of media equipment all day, then you can complain. If you're healthy and just complaining because you get bored in lines... STFU!

      It's always too hot,

      Not organising them to happen during the summer would probably be a good start to solving that particular issue.

        The first PaxAus did this and people whinged about it being too cold...

        The first PaxAus also had terrible long waits...

        They adjusted, and now it's quite good. There are still waits for different things, but mostly it's tolerable.

      PAX is fine. Been to two in Melbourne and have only missed a handful of event though those were normally niche events in the smaller halls but typically if you waited 10-15min people would walk out due to maybe not liking to content and then they would let people fill those seats.

      As for heat, that has never been an issue for me at PAX. I often wear a T-shirt with a shirt over the top, this could be because I am from the tropics but I've always been comfortably cool.

    Surely it would have been pretty easy to estimate the realistic capacity for the panels and signings, and then use that to work out how many tickets to sell? Or did they just sell as many tickets as people would buy?

    Maybe I'm alone in this sentiment and I apologize if I am; but could we get articles with less Twitter? Felt like 60-70% of this article was various Twitter feeds and 30% the actual author's material.

      I don't really mind it in this context - it's good to see that this was an experience that a lot of people had, rather than one or two isolated bad times.

        That's exactly why I left them in. There were many, many more that I cut. Unfortunately, due to the way Twitter is formatted, a single line takes up a lot of space.

          I appreciate the Twitter imbeds because I like being able to see exactly what people thought/said.

      This is not a criticism of Kotaku or Amanda, but rather modern news reporting instead, where people's opinion via twitter is more important than reporting the facts.

      Hell, News.com.au reported Netflix was losing "thousands of customers" based on a few twitter feeds after the geoblocking of VPNs was announced...

        This. An article covering how badly organized a convention was shouldn't need to link to a multitude of social media links to justify its opinion.

        I come to Kotaku because I enjoy the content written up by local writers and appreciate "their" opinion. I don't need it reinforced with a Twitter feed telling me how much it agrees with the article.

    I was one of the VIPs at RTXAU and let me share my thoughts:

    In regards to what Alistair McCoy mentions in the two tweets above, that was all down to this one 40 year old guy complaining to the most patient guardian I have ever seen. This turd of a human being was arguing for 20 minutes until two other guardians got involved to calm him down. Then he cut into the VIP line. Dick. At that point even the VIP line hadn't moved in 30 mins so that whole signing with Funhaus was poorly run.

    There should have been more communication at the signings. I had three very different experiences during the second day where at first it was 2 VIPs and 3 "normies" at a time which worked out great. Then I saw 4 VIPs and 1 regular pass, and finally the situation I mentioned previously.

    The overarching thing however was the amount of vitriol and abuse we were copping from people in lines. I completely sympathise with those who waited in line for hours to see one person and felt incredibly guilty for at times only taking 5 minutes to get through to see someone, but I also paid $400+ for my pass.

    I think a better system would have been for Rooster Teeth personalities to go to the green room via the VIP lounge after getting off stage. If they hung around there for 15 mins then it would have severely mitigated the need for VIP lines in the signature section. I brought this up on the Roo Teeth Facebook page but the post was deleted. Kinda feels like a community I don't want to be as much a part of anymore.

      That's really awful that people put the blame on VIP pass holders. I'm sure this is part to the audience mostly consisting of teenagers, but that's a really immature response to have to a situation that's pretty much par for the course in modern society.

        Well it doesn't look good when people are manipulating the system also, I saw a VIP holder give their pass to a friend and zoomed straight into the VIP signing line.

        I believe the VIP holders received the Lazer Team afterparty, and RTX after party - getting to see their idols personally, multiple times. Just seemed a little greedy NOT to have the 3 VIP 3 NORMAL system, that 40 year old guy deserves a medal if he managed to change the way those lines were run, even only for a short period.

        Can't blame the VIP holders, it was just poorly organised/poor location, but next years venue looks to be AMAZING!

    So it's pretty much like RTX2014 was, minus the sexual assault, bomb threat Sorry the FIRE ALARM and bullshit from the elitist Guardian Army...

    A less prominent issue was the Diversity in Gaming panel. Though the panel was well-intentioned, the diversity panel’s ironic lack of diversity was glaring, being comprised of three able-bodied white LGBTQA people, two of them male. While the panellists did mention issues of race and gender, the panel as it was comprised would have been better titled ‘Sexuality in Gaming’. It was uncomfortable listening to three white people tell the audience how to combat racism while not even acknowledging the position they were in.
    So you're either saying that white males cannot have an opinion worth sharing, or that panels require tokenism? I'm sorry, but you really worded that paragraph badly.

    Last edited 27/01/16 11:53 am

      Probably more along the lines of thought that it would've been nice to have a panel on diversity commenting on how to combat racism if any of the panelists might've actually had experience on the receiving end of racism.

      Of course you could then argue how do you know 3 white males on a panel have never been victims of racism and of course you would be completely right.

      just like men cant understand gender issues because we're big muscly men

      Hi, I was on the panel in question!

      Firstly, the panel was intended as an intersectional approach to all kinds of diversity. We did talk a lot about sexuality and gender, but that's because that's what most of us are familiar with.

      Also, one of our panelists is Native American, which didn't come up directly (although he passes rather well as white). See https://www.facebook.com/joshua.meadows/posts/10153806522334484

      We didn't spend a lot of time talking about race, so I'm not sure why the author was uncomfortable in that sense? Also, I talked pretty openly about my experiences with mental illness, so I'm not sure "able-bodied" is the right term (although it's true, none of us use mobility aids).

      Regarding the LGBTQA comment - this kind of bothers me, because none of us are all six of those things! Plus sexuality and gender, including non-binary gender (and one of us is non-binary - that's me!) are different things.

      Finally, this panel was kind of floated as a last-minute thing. I was only asked to join it a few weeks beforehand. I believe Joshua did try to get PoC on the panel, but the last-minute nature of the thing made it difficult.

      Anyway! From my perspective, I thought the panel went really well. Then again, it was my first one, so I don't have anything to judge it against! :)

        Hi Dina, thanks for giving your view of the situation!

        The fact that, though the panel was meant to be an intersectional look at diversity, you feel the panel didn’t talk much about race was exactly my issue. The panel was advertised as ‘Diversity In Gaming’, not ‘Sexuality In Gaming’, despite the panel’s expertise being more on the sexuality aspect. It would have been a good panel had it been labelled as such. That there weren’t enough people on the panel who could talk authoritatively and with experience about race was a problem.

        I don’t think anybody is everything covered by the LGBTQA acronym. I meant that you were included in the community and in this context representative of the community. I understand that sexuality and gender are different, which is why I also pointed out that two of the panellists were men. (Able-bodied is also the correct term, as it draws the distinction between mental and physical disabilities.)

        I apologise for wrongly identifying Joshua’s ethnicity. As he says he is white-passing. However I still feel that the panel would have benefitted from visible POC faces for a more nuanced discussion.

        I understand that it’s difficult to throw a panel together at the last minute, but it isn’t great that a panel on a subject that should warrant some consideration should be scheduled as an afterthought. I have been to many diversity panels, and a lack of POC is a reoccurring problem on all of them. It is difficult to swallow discussion about diversity when those discussing it aren’t diverse themselves. As I said, while well-intentioned, it could have been conducted better.

    God I remember those portable aircons from Brisbane Supernova 2013... until we complained so much they moved to the air-con-vention centre. When I heard Gus mention the Homebush Train Yard warehouse looking cool! in the podcast... I knew it was going to be stinking HOT! Glad I decided to stay at home and watch the streams.

    Best part from the stream was the Ruby and Yang panel. That was a surprise... especially when they had the screen blocked for the first five minutes and you could only hear the vlices "I call this the Penny"

    I hear it'll be at a nicer venue next year so that should clear up that problem.
    On the VIP thing? Yeah it sounds like they messed up but I won't hate on the concept because...

    I'd rather they TICKET EVERYTHING. I hate lines, I hate standing in them for short or long lengths of time, I hate plodding along and wasting so much time being in them only to (as many discovered) still lose out. And that was going to happen a lot.
    As the article says: it's a celebrity expo not a gaming expo. 90% of the attendees would LOVE a signature from their idols so of course lines will be full. Ticket it. Secure your place and know you'll get what you paid for. Then if that ticketed event is literally under capacity? Open them up to walk-ins and refund the original buyers, keeping everyone on an equal value (all-paid or all-free).

    *Edit* By ticketing everything I mean at the point of Expo ticket payment, not like at the door or anything.

    Last edited 27/01/16 2:34 pm

      Ticketing everything would increase the amount of lining up. You'd have a line to the ticketing booths, then a line up into the panel. That may even increase the cost of going to a convention as a whole, let alone then taking into consideration food & drink, merch, etc. This would certainly discourage me from attending at all.

        I edited my original post. Such ticketing I'd expect to have done online at the point you buy the expo ticket, so no extra lines for that. The amount of lining up after that should be less, since you could open a line like 15 mins before event since the only people allowed in would be pre-paid; no early-birds or fighting over getting a spot in line.

        Yes it would cost more than a general entry, but I'd prefer say, a lower general entry and then maybe a $5 - $15 sub-event tickets to tack on (tied to schedules so nobody can try to be in 2 places at once) and then spend my day knowing exactly what I'm going to do and how long it will take. Much better than paying for a higher base entry just to gamble hours of my time on something not guaranteed.

    Maybe they should think about not hosting it in Summer

    Sounds exactly like PAX Aus in its first year. Too many people in a venue not large enough. Which was fixed the next year by moving from the Melbourne Showgrounds to the much larger and very modern Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. I'm sure RTX will have the same thing happen. They didn't know how many tickets they were gonna sell in their first year and so got a smaller venue. They learn't their lesson and i'm sure it will be much better in 2017. Although who would want to go to sydney anyway?

      The Melbourne convention center is the best venue in the country, not sure why they are sticking with sydney.. seems naive.

        The Sydney International Convention Centre is currently closed and being transformed into what will be the best in aus
        "Opening in late 2016, the project will deliver Australia’s largest convention and exhibition facilities, Sydney’s largest red carpet entertainment venue, a new hotel and a new urban neighbourhood with offices, residential, student housing, public car parking, cafes and shops."

    I was on the fence about attending and in the end decided not to go. Having seen your report article on it, I'm very glad I didn't go, what is with Australian cons being so poorly organised?, it's not a new thing anymore. The thought of lining up for 5 hours for the off chance of having a 20 second interaction with Bruce/James/Adam, they hastily scribble on my poster whilst politely greeting me "Hey, dude, thanks for coming" actually depresses the hell out of me lol. Also, going off your article, as a 29yo male I would have felt like an old weird creep compared to the the sea of 15yo's that seem to have packed out the venue! I suspect my own agoraphobia contributes heavily to this opinion!

    HELLOO PEOPLE I was one of these guardians quoting from a line book. But I must have missed this book same as I'm gonna guess EVERY OTHER GUARDIAN DID. We were less than 150people to 5000 a day, trying our hardest to do as we were told was the legal and logical thing to do in the situations we were put in. Now I was there it was humid, it was frustrating but to blame all the bad things on us, the staff and the event its self is a waste of time. I bet all the people that tweeted just how bad it was will be front and centre for next years just like they were for this one. personally I would love to volunteer again just so that I can help try and make next years go better than it did this ones. Even after being screamed at, sworn at and treated like I was a horrible person for saying no. There is NEVER going to be a perfect con EVER, if you want to attend such a thing its better to learn now that you will have to wait in line. you may not get what you wanted, but just please understand that the people that are running it are trying their hardest to make it a memory for everyone then can. This may be a discussion if need be but I was just sad to see just so much hatred and anger from people that at the time were having so much fun.

    Hope you write an artical on RTXAU 2017 because it was an echo on everything your wrote here!

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