How to spot a fake expo – a primer

orly cat

“There’s a sucker born every minute,” as P. T. Barnum, the late-19th century purveyor of elaborate sideshow hoaxes including the Fiji Mermaid and Cardiff Giant, famously said. Except it wasn’t even P.T. Barnum who said it, but rather his bitter rival, David Hannum. Quod erat demonstrandum, as snobs like to say, or basically, “told you so, lol”.

Here at NAG, we have our very own science laboratory to rigorously test unproved hypotheses and other so-called “facts” for solid evidence of reality-based… reality. Okay, so it’s not strictly a proper science laboratory with Bunsen burners and bits of hose and rotting lumps of unidentifiable organic matter in pickling jars, although we do sometimes like to poke Dane with pointy things just to see what happens. It’s totally methodology, or something.

Anyway, with regards to recent events – or non-events, for that matter – in the community, we’ve put on our white jackets and compiled this useful guide to identifying gaming or other geek culture conventions (or, more appropriately perhaps, “cons”) that might not quite be everything they’re marketed to be before you start working on your Tron cosplay gear. Which brings us rather conveniently to the first subtle cue:

It’s advertised as the “world’s premier” event of its type

On its own, this might not necessarily generate any significant static around our tinfoil hatstand, but it’s the accompanying details that start to make a bit of noise. For example:

It’s using the same name as a major international event (with permission, allegedly), but it’s not officially affiliated with it

Or unofficially. Or at all. In fact, the major international event organisers have never heard of it.

e3 south africa

It’s just been announced, and it’s happening in, like, three or four weeks

Plus there’s no additional information, like what’s actually going to be happening at all, or the only information supplied is that there’s going to be food on sale. When queried about the very, very short notice, the organisers say they didn’t expect such a big response to a “world’s premier” event.

It’s being held in a venue that accommodates only 150 people, including exhibitors

Experts in event management are generally agreed that any “world’s premier”-class event venue should preferably accommodate more than 150 people at one time. Approximately 5,000 or so more.

The biggest sponsor doesn’t exist

And when sceptical commentators point this out, the organiser retracts the sponsor’s name and substitutes it with something that’s tangentially somewhat vaguely related but not actually really the same thing.

The other sponsor might not exist either

Because the only thing on their website is an image of a brand who subsequently denies any affiliation with the company.

The production company probably doesn’t exist

A Facebook placeholder page with 0 “likes” is not the same thing as industry credibility and a track record, or possibly even an office somewhere.