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Jun 06

UK Games Expo 2014 – A second Timer’s Review!

DSC_0206As some of you may remember, I went along to the UK Games Expo last year and posted my thoughts being the first time there. I returned again this year, and figured now after having a bit of time to recuperate would be a good time to put what I thought of the entire thing, knowing after last year what to expect!

Let start with some numbers. This year there was 6000 attendees. 6000! Oh Geez! I also got the chance this year to stay at the actual venue, rather than about 2 miles away. So I had the chance to see what happened during the night as well as during the day. I even got the pleasure of arriving around midday on the Friday rather than a mad dash at midnight to arrive at the hotel and bunker down before the madness of Saturday started.

My first piece of advice? Stay at the venue. The expo doesn’t stop when the main door closes. All throughout the hotel there are games aplenty being played. It was during these moments I got to try quite a few brand new (to me) games, and meet a whole host of new people! It is also a fantastic time for you meet and greet all the designers and publishers to say hello while grabbing a drink in the bar! Remember though, they are finally getting a chance to wind down after a hectic day of showing everything/anything or building their stands ready for you to enjoy.

To say there was a huge host of different things for you to go enjoy would be an understatement. The Expo this year Expo 2014 377expanded to take up even more of the hotel. Everywhere I looked there were people trying out new games, playing their favourite games, buying games, selling games, play testing new games and generally talking about new games! It was busy. Yet everywhere I looked there was laughter, smiles and general great vibe running through the entire expo. You couldn’t help but be excited with the number of people who were thrilled to be there.

Speaking of things to do, go see at least one seminar. They are fantastically well organised and always interesting to hear what these talks are about. I had the wonderful pleasure of hosting on the Sunday a seminar where I had the chance to ask questions to Monte Cook. So did the audience, which is a very rare chance indeed!

There was also massive improvements made on this year’s expo compared to last year. Food was an expensive fight for survival last year, whereas this year the Expo brought catering on site in the convention hotel. You are never going to get cheap food at a convention (although I would be marvelled to hear otherwise) but the organisers had taken the criticism on board and did their best to fix it. This is a fantastic sign of an ever improving convention. The prices of drinks where massively lowered as well. I heard stories of people paying nearly seven pounds for a pint of coke, whereas this year it was £3 for a litre and a half bottle! Again the convention organisers heard the complaints and have made vast improvements. They also had a very respectable deal with the local Dominos which was in the Expo programme.

Crowd1Which brings my third piece of advice. Be prepared for some long queues and slightly expensive choices. Being that the convention isn’t in the centre of a city and quite on the outskirts the choices for food and drink is quite limited. With limited choices and six thousand people wanting something it can take quite a while to get what you want. With also a six thousand strong captive audience it is never going to be cheap. Eat a hearty and early breakfast (the queues in the hotel for breakfast were quite long!) and if possible, organise a willing runner. Then hunker down and prepare to play the long game, especially if you organised your events to have short food breaks.

Of course, there were snags. I never saw the Bring and Buy queue drop once, and it seems it has outgrown the space it was given already. The organisers have recognised this and no doubt they will improve on this aspect. I felt truly terrible for the staff behind the Costa counter on Saturday as the queue never ended. Ever.

It was, for me overall, a great event. Plenty to see and do, plenty of kind and welcoming faces and plenty of people ready and willing to talk about their awesome stuff! You can see some of the interviews over here. I could write an entire novella about the fantastic games I got to see and I know my purchase list just grew again and again with every single awesome game I got a chance to see at the expo. A huge congratulations to the staff and the volunteers that make this possible every single year. The work you put in certainly pays off and I am looking forward to seeing how the expo grows again in 2015! Oh… and there is, of course, just one photo you need to see to sum up this rather wonderful event…whut

Why yes. That is, if I remember correctly, Kiwis running around a circuit with flowers on their backs. I don’t really understand what is happening either. But doesn’t it look amazing?

2 comments

  1. Breacher18

    Nice review, hopefully see you again soon 🙂

  2. Jonas

    Good review. What is the game with the flowers – on the back of hedgehogs(?). Would love to know.

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