Gamescom is noisy, dark, crowded and hot. Throngs of people swarm every aisle, often making it difficult to reach the title you really, really want to try out. Eventually you find yourself resorting to Assassin's Creed-style shoving in order to navigate the wall of people in front of you, then settle yourself in for a long wait to get hands on with your most hotly anticipated game as you see how long the line is.
Gamescom is also a haven of calm -- bright, well lit, organized, friendly. People walk along at a relaxed pace, heading directly to their destination to check in with the booth's receptionists before sitting down for their scheduled demo.
This difference, if you hadn't already worked it out, is the division between the Entertainment and Business areas of Gamescom. As a trade visitor -- whether that's exhibitor, press or other member of the industry -- you have a pleasantly calm and organized visit for the most part, assuming you don't make the mistake of booking back to back appointments with publishers that are at opposite ends of the convention center. Scheduled demos are often on a one to one basis, or to a small group at most, and someone from the development team is usually on hand to answer questions.
As a consumer visitor, however, your experience is markedly different. There's no means of making appointments to see games for consumers, so it makes good sense to plan how you're going to attack each day you spend at the show -- and get there early. Even if you don't get the chance to go hands on with your most hotly-anticipated titles, though, most publishers hold regular stage shows where they'll demonstrate gameplay on a big screen, whip up the audience into a frenzy with some call-and-response chanting before flinging T-shirts and other goodies into the crowd.
I made a point of spending some time in both halves of the show. It was like two completely separate events, were it not for the one unifying factor. "Celebrate the games" was the official slogan of Gamescom this year, and this was in evidence everywhere you went -- whether you were cheering along with the crowd watching NCSoft demonstrating Guild Wars 2 or spending some one on one time with a developer discussing their upcoming products. It was even in evidence around the city of Cologne itself, with public transportation proudly bearing advertisements for products such as World of Tanks and Rage.
Gamescom shows, despite its split personality, one thing more clearly than anything else: this is an industry that is proud of its considerable accomplishments, and its consumers are proud and excited to be a part of it. That seems like a healthy basis for a celebration.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Gamescom: The Show with the Split Personality