The Steam Deck’s Asia release has taken it to the Tokyo Game Show, following a solo launch event that included several surviving Steam Deck prototypes. In my report on the latter I made some passing references to a novelty oversized Deck that Valve were building for their TGS booth, completely unaware of how often I’d find myself admiring it a few days later. See, the Steam Deck booth at TGS, from the towering scale model to the weirdly impressive elegance of its logistics, might be the finest event booth I’ve ever seen.
I’m not sorry! Just look at it: even without the Big Deck, which comes complete with a suitably giant, functioning screen, it’s a beautiful bit of exhibition design. The sprawling, cooly lit space; the neat racks of demo units; the fact that there are actual seats?! People can go to a big event like this and sit down on something besides a revolting floor? Incredible. Bet they’ve even got bottled water that isn’t sparkling.
As you can probably infer, booths like these are not the norm. I’ve beat feet around a few tech shows in my time, and the usual routine when going to try out a piece of hardware is thus: you show up to a booth that already has too many people in it for its size, move to where the crowd around the demo kit is thinnest, shuffle awkwardly for a few minutes, then move to a completely different section of crowd anyway because a YouTuber is here and wants everyone to move ten feet back so he can set up his tripod.
Oh, to have written more hands-ons after visiting booths like the Steam Deck’s. A video from Valve designer Lawrence Yang shows a far more civilised visiting experience, starting with a nice walk into the enormous main area and ending with playing a Steam Deck on your choice of three different seating options. The only waiting period is seemingly filled up by watching an informational video on the Steam Deck, after which everyone can help themselves to a real one to try. No free-for-alls, no stress, no tripods. Heaven.
And look how organised it is! We Brits have spent the past two days patting ourselves on the backs for an (admittedly very long) queue to see dear departed Queen Liz, but the sight of 150 random TGS goers filing neatly past the racks of demo Decks is still the most impressive display of politeness logistics I’ve seen this week. And again, that’s enabled by the booth, in all its spacious, pleasant, white-and-blue glory. No wonder Hideo Kojima stopped by.
The only thing I don’t like about this booth is its potential to induce deep seated feelings of inadequacy, specifically in myself. Since RPS shares a corporate overload with EGX, Katharine and I (mainly Katharine) have been chipping in on a Steam Deck demo stand for EGX London next week. I have no idea how big or resplendent it will be, but between us, reader, even a second-hand viewing of Valve’s effort makes me wonder how ours is going to stack up. Still, if you’re attending and you see me around, feel free to say hi – I might just deny that I wrote any of this.