Around 7,000 “Game of Thrones” fans descended upon the Barclays Center in NYC Thursday night for an early season 4 screening.
Ticket holders were told at the time of purchase that phones and cameras wouldn’t be allowed inside the event.
That seemed a little strange. When “The Epic Fan Experience” was first announced, HBO said it would include costumes, props from the series, and opportunities to take photos on the Iron Throne — all things fans would probably want to take photos.
We’ve seen notes like this before attending other concerts and events.
When we attend movie screenings we’re simply told to shut off our electronics. If anyone’s caught doing something they’re not supposed to, they’re thrown out.
However, that’s in a pretty small theatre that seats a few hundred — not thousands.
Either way, the idea seemed pretty unimaginable.
How was HBO going to prevent thousands of people from bringing their phones into a large arena? Many were travelling to the event after work — where they most likely had their cell. Were they going to confiscate everyone’s phones?
Yes. That’s exactly what they did — and everyone was ok with it.
When arriving at the Barclays Center Thursday evening, “Game of Thrones” fans were unexpectedly met by five tents.
Each one was marked by a different coloured flag …
… and the uninviting words “phone check.”
Puzzled attendees quickly learned that didn’t mean attendees were being “checked” for a phone but were checking them in for safe keeping during the show.
The rules were strictly enforced.
Here’s how it went down:
After receiving an “Epic Fan Experience Bracelet” we had to surrender our phones.
Fans were asked to hand over any electronics (cells, laptops, iPads, etc.). Phones were place into brown paper bags.
In exchange, attendees received a ticket to pick up their electronics after the event.
The colour of the ticket corresponded to the flag above the tent so fans knew where to return later.
Bags were labelled with the number on your ticket …
… and were sorted into containers for pick up on the opposite end of the tent at the night’s end.
After that, it was a “game of lines” before we could see “Game of Thrones.”
We proceeded to another line to get inside the building where staff checked IDs to make sure fans were 18 and up. After that, we went through a bag search and metal detector. (There was absolutely no way you were getting inside this event with a phone.)
Finally, after that, you had your ticket scanned and you were inside.
Fans were free to wander the arena, get photos on the show’s Iron Throne and a faux red carpet, and receive a few freebies including a “Game of Thrones’ T-Shirt.
We found it a bit ironic the first item we received inside the event was for our phones.
In addition to being an “epic” fan event, the night was essentially a giant social experiment.
For nearly four hours, fans could not share their experiences with social media.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve been able to go to a concert without seeing cameras raised in the air filming and snapping what people see ahead of themselves.
If you didn’t have a watch (gasp!) you were forced to go up to strangers and ask for the time. March Madness fans had no idea if their brackets were getting torn apart (the horror!).
Without access to Twitter or Facebook, you couldn’t brag to your friends about the moment your jaw dropped when “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin and cast members came out on stage.
The night was a stark reminder of how overly reliant we are on technology.
HBO handled the event pretty efficiently with a smart, simple system that worked.
After the screening ended around 9:20 p.m., I waited no more than 20 minutes to get my phone back. There was no yelling, pushing, or shoving (that we saw).
It would be interesting to see if a similar system could be implemented at other events in the future.
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