The best offsites at San Diego Comic-Con are interactive, fun, give you cool swag, and most importantly, immerse you in their world. In those regards, Purge City offered San Diego Comic-Con attendees a killer good time.
For those not familiar with The Purge films, the concept is pretty simple: Each year, for one night only, a national civic tradition called “The Purge” allows residents to have 12 hours of totally free-reign-crime, where all crime is legal and emergency services are unavailable. You can probably imagine for yourself what that looks like (though if you haven’t seen the films, they’re much smarter and a lot more fun than whatever you’re thinking reading this paragraph – I’m genuinely a fan and I don’t like much “horror”).
USA Network is bringing a 10-episode mini-series for The Purge to small screens this September, and to celebrate, they brought a “Purge City” shop to the convention. Which sounded cool enough in concept when it was first announced, but no one thought to mention that it was essentially a party store but for Purge Night, and ohmygod.
The entire concept was just pure joy, despite (and often because of) the source material. When you stepped foot inside, store “employees” were there with a smile on their face to welcome you to Purge City and ask what your plans are for Purge Night. So much of the fun of Purge City was just interacting with the store employees, as it was essentially interactive improv. If you wanted to hunker down for the night, don’t worry, there’s an employee to tell you all about the latest home security options! Want to celebrate the 28th amendment that made Purge Night possible? We’ll talk to you about the legal side of it! And into something a bit more, er, fun? Plenty of options for that as well!
I took a friend who had never seen any of the movies, though I gave her a quick overview of the concept before we went inside – and she instantly loved getting to play along. We joked that we’d be participating in the event, and had a few people on our lists – and one employee told us he did too, and that his fellow coworker didn’t know what a “fun” night he had in store for him! It was all tongue-in-cheek, and basically PG-rated.
The highlight of the event (beyond the swag, which we’ll get to shortly) was a “Demo Area”, where one very excited employee would present you with a real-life infomercial for “Purge Away”, a product in the store that was sure to get out even the peskiest of Purge Night stains. There were lots of fun jokes, and it was a cool demonstration.
But perhaps the best part of the concept was that rather than simply looking like a regular store, it behaved like one too. When you entered, you were given twenty “Purge Bucks” to spend on actual merchandise in the store. This included everything from t-shirts, hats, 28th amendment scrolls, Purge Night candles, Purge Away stain sticks, buttons, bumper stickers, and more. Each item had a set “price”, but there was nothing in the store with a total cost of more than 20 “Purge Bucks” – so you essentially got to choose your own swag pack. There are plenty of offsites giving you amazing swag throughout the convention, but how many let you choose your own combination?
Oh, and you got a balloon when you checked out. Which is AMAZING (and I may or may not have taken my balloon into The Good Place activation, which is surely the most on-brand thing I’ve ever done in my life).
Even for those not familiar with The Purge, or those who weren’t a big fan of horror, Purge City was easily accessible and offered some of the very best swag of the entire convention. Plus, it was just fun – and made us genuinely excited about the new TV series.