More than 20,000 men and women—casino executives, product suppliers, investment bankers, folks who take a wrong turn leaving Delmonico Steakhouse—are expected to attend this year’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
And this means one thing and one thing only. That in a world of 7.5 billion people, 7,499,980,000 aren’t coming at all.
Here’s what they are going to miss, besides the amazing games, cool gizmos, awesome ideas, and wiz-bang technological advancements:
9 p.m. Saturday: Wheels down at McCarran International, one of the last remaining airports that’s not located a Tour De France stage away from the part of the city that, you know, people actually want to visit. Which is nice.
12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Sunday: Plenty of REM sleep, a healthy brunch, morning mass, afternoon constitutional, evening rubdown, topped with a marathon flash-card study session to memorize the exhibition booth numbers. And that’s exactly what you tell my wife if she asks, capiche?
10 a.m. Monday: It’s T-minus 24 hours until show time, and as is the case at this point every year, the main hall looks like Godzilla just crushed, crumbled and chomped his way through it. You’re talking a real disaster area.
It’s like the fall of Saigon, minus the humidity and the helicopters.
9:30 p.m. Monday: This is when all the rah-rah, team-building, team-bonding and trash-talking from suppliers reaches its crescendo. Between the rhetoric and the alcohol—did we mention the alcohol?—companies big and small whip themselves into a frenzy about all the dominating and overpowering and punishing they’re going to do this week. It’s all very Fifty Shades of Grey.
9:59:59 a.m. Tuesday: The last screw of the last slot machine in the last booth gets its last quarter-turn.
One second later: The doors swing wide, the crowd pours in. Oh, the humanity! Like literally. Look at all those people. There hasn’t been a mob this big since July 14, 1789, when the Bastille was overrun by half of Paris.
12:55 p.m. Tuesday: Damn, this place is huge. Been here nearly three hours and haven’t left the first booth yet. And no, it’s not because the salespeople are so aggressive they won’t let you out.
That’s just a coincidence.
You could argue that G2E, like the Hermitage in Russia, Disneyland in California, or—uh, quick, pick a place—the Waitomo glowworm caves in New Zealand, is too big to experience in a single day. Or even two.
The key is to plan. When you get the expo directory, the first thing you need to do is color-code the suppliers as follows: “red” for the ones you must see; “green” for the ones you should see; “yellow” for the ones you promised you’d see, but really don’t want to see; “Orange” for the ones you will see on your way out the door; and “Fuchsia” for the ones you will only see if they see you first.
Then, 15 minutes later, after you’ve accidentally left this Crayola concoction behind at the bottom of some toilet stall, go out there and do what everyone else does: Wander aimlessly and follow the smell of kettle corn.
5:05 p.m. Tuesday: In case you’re curious, that giant “ahhhhhh” sound is from all the suppliers sitting down for the first time in seven hours. And in case you’re curious again, that giant “ewwwwww” sound is from all the suppliers taking off their shoes for the first time in seven hours.
12:45 a.m. Wednesday: Party time! Buoyed by adrenaline and alcohol—did we mention the alcohol?—suppliers always loosen their ties and let down their hair the first night after the first day. Outdoors at Hard Rock. Indoors at Hakkasan. A little of both at Ghost Bar. Vegas, baby! Woo-hoo! What happens here, stays here, and all that sort of rot.
No curfew, no last call, no problem.
7:15 a.m. Wednesday: Somebody shut off that f****** alarm clock before it gets f******drop-kicked down the f****** elevator shaft!
12:30 p.m. Wednesday: The official midway point of the conference. Nine-and-a-half hours down, nine-and-a-half hours to go. And to get though G2E Hump Day, it’s also nine-and-a-half cups of coffee down, nine-and-a-half to go. Somewhere in Seattle, Howard Shultz is smiling.
10 p.m. Wednesday: Last night’s lesson is well-learned and well-remembered. Lights out.
11 a.m. Thursday: Check-out time. Yes, the evacuation starts while the show’s still going on—and going strong—because companies that send people to Las Vegas typically don’t want to face another night’s food, lodging, alcohol—did we mention the alcohol?—and mini-bar ransacking.
1:30 p.m. Thursday: And down the stretch we come. After three frenzied and frenetic days, the expo has finally started to slow. To. A. Crawl. Not much business takes place in these, the waning moments of G2E, except for that of the funny or monkey variety. Off in the periphery, the tear-down crews are watching and waiting, like a murder of crows, ready to descend and do their business once the clock strikes 3.
11:45 p.m. Thursday: If you didn’t know the world’s biggest gaming expo was here, you wouldn’t know it was here. The roadies are so good, so efficient, that by the time the clock strikes midnight, all that’s left is a pile of used lanyards and the smell of kettle corn. Oh, and a color-coded directory that was found at the bottom of a toilet stall.
10 a.m. Friday: Hey, it’s only 362 days until G2E 2017 begins. And you know what? We can’t wait. See you then!