PAX West 2018 DigiPen Student Booth
Genre: PAX West Booth
Project Role: Booth Designer, Associate Logistics Director
Platform: Trade Show Booth
What is it?
Every year, DigiPen Institute of Technology sends two booths to Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) West: one dedicated to our Outreach Department, and the other booth to showcase student projects to the public. The DigiPen Student Booth is located in the Annex of the Seattle Convention Center and sees hundreds of guests every year.
For PAX West 2018, I was hired by the faculty member who directs the PAX Student Booth to take on the role of Associate Logistics Director. My duties involved organizing the volunteer team who made sure the trucks were loaded, ensuring we had everything we needed, and setting up and tearing down the booth.
As the event came closer, I also took on the role of Booth Designer with the goal of making the DigiPen Student Booth as approachable and enjoyable as possible.
The layout of the booth was designed to be as comfortable and homey for guests as possible. Before I joined this team, the booth went through several iterations to try to find the best layout possible.
In previous years, the layout involved a central area devoted to multiplayer games, with the outer edges of the booth devoted to single player games in arcade cabinets.
My first step in designing the layout for this booth was to identify the problems with the design. Previously, the main complaints about the DigiPen Student Booth were that it felt cramped and guests didn't get a chance to see all of the games during one visit, instead having to make several trips to see everything.
To correct this, my first decision was to open up the booth by separating the booths into pairs and moving them apart from each other. This separation created a window effect, visually making the booth feel more spacious and more pleasant to look at.
The next adjustment to the booth I made to correct the cramped feeling was to adjust how the multiplayer area was arranged. I accomplished this by angling the couches and chairs in toward the televisions. The furniture was intentionally put off-center and uneven to make it feel less stiff and more like someone's living room, unlike a stereotypical expo hall's booth.
Between these two simple changes, the booth's atmosphere was drastically improved, and many guests stayed for a long time, while others visited to take a well-earned rest.
As the associate logistics director for the event, it was my job to make sure that all materials and equipment were loaded onto the truck for shipping from DigiPen to the Seattle Convention Center. From there, I supervised the unloading of the truck from the union loading dock to the booth location. At the assigned location, I coordinated the construction and setup of the booth.
Throughout the event, I coordinated the work efforts of the volunteer team. This team consisted of a small group of students that I selected for the event. These students helped me with the construction and setup of the booth. During the event, these students also helped staff the booth.
After the event finished, this team and I were primarily responsible for deconstructing the booth and loading it to the truck on the loading dock.
Once the truck was loaded, everything was taken back to DigiPen, at which point the event was done. As associate logistics director, I, and the other students primarily responsible for running the student booth, held a debrief of the event as a whole. During this debrief, we discussed what went well, what could have been better, and what ways we could improve the event for the next year.
What went wrong?
Due to how the arcade cabinets were set up, the representatives of each game had to go around the people playing their game to talk to them while staying out of the flow of traffic. This turned out to be extremely inefficient and tedious. The TVs we took to the event also had some technical difficulties toward the end, leading to us being forced to readjust the game schedule and locations during the event. We never tested the equipment prior to it reaching the venue, so the equipment not working was entirely our own fault and something to bear in mind for this coming year.
What went right?
The PAX West Student Booth was able to fit more guests at one time than any year previously, as well as being more popular than in years past. This is due in part to the growing popularity of DigiPen as a school, as well as the ease of getting around in the booth itself because of my booth design. The booth was received so well that several companies actually donated items of varying price points at the event itself for use as prizes in our raffles.