Thursday, February 18, 2016

MAGfest Atmosphere vs. PAX

I stepped into the vendor's hall this morning at around 10AM and left a little before midnight. It was a long day, but it didn't feel like it to me. I like this environment, and I like this kind of work. It's the kind of work I can simply get lost in.

It's different from PAX, still. Working a booth at PAX, it feels like there's a lot of pressure all the time. Here, not so much. I'm not really certain why, and I wish I could articulate it.

Perhaps it has something to do with the level of control I have here, as opposed to PAX. Running PAX is a major event with many people involved in the booth's design and construction, many more people to manage, and the show itself has very clear opening and closing times for the exhibitors' hall.

MAGfest, on the other hand, is a lot less structured: we don't know the exact layout of the booth before we arrive, partially because we don't know what kind of space we'll actually end up with in the end. We have far fewer people to manage here and far less business, and I can pretty much handle the booth single-handedly most of the time. And the MAGfest marketplace doesn't really close at any point on a daily basis: it simply opens at some point on the first day, closes at some point on the last day, and in between it's up to you when you want to staff your space. You're free to pace yourself or not.

Somehow, PAX feels like a performance, while MAGfest feels more genuine. Perhaps it has something to do with the people we're surrounded by: at PAX, it's all expensive, professional displays and business people pushing experiences and corporate marketing selling stuff to the attendees, while at MAGfest it's all bands and fan artists sharing a mutual love of their fandom with the attendees. The shops at the MAGfest marketplace are more down-to-earth, and I can relate to them a lot more than I can relate to the giants and PAX.

Which makes me wonder where Fangamer actually is on that spectrum. I know which one I prefer, but does Fangamer fit more with the giants at PAX or the smaller shops at MAGfest? I've always felt that our PAX presence is a facade that we work really hard to put on, which makes it somewhat less natural.

On the other hand, I wonder how the other sellers at MAGfest feel about us. I get a sense of camaraderie mostly and some admiration, which tells me that we're not too big to fit into this venue. I hope we never start making them uncomfortable, though. At that point, I'd probably decide to stop selling there for everyone else's sake.

This has been another rambling, unedited post from National Harbor, MD. Hopefully I didn't make too many typos.

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