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May 28

UK Games Expo: First Timer’s Review!

UK-Games-Expo-300x336I have never been to the UK Games Expo, to my shame. Mainly it was distance and mainly it was clashing with other events I attend around this time of year. However this year, after some crazy agreement from myself to help out the UK Gaming Media Network with some interviews and demonstrations, I decided I might as well take any time I can to have a look around and let folks know what I, a newbie to this convention, thinks of it!

To say it was busy would be an understatement. I have been to Blizzcon in 2011 and Conpulsion now twice in both 2012 and 2013, So I have seen one massive convention, and the noticeably smaller scale of convention as well. There was 3512 people at this event, and even though this year they had moved to a much, much bigger venue I am told, it was still crammed packed! Although everything still moved you could tell that this place was busy!

To say I had no idea what to expect from the retailers in terms of stalls, I won’t lie when I admit I only expected some basic trestle tables and a banner or two about the place telling me who was running the store and the prices of the item on said stall. How completely and utterly wrong was I? There was massive banner covered areas for demoing games filled with hordes of exciting and kind volunteers, there was store owners in fantastic costumes and it seems they went all out to achieve some excellent looking stands, and the number of products on show was fantastic.

The panels, from what I was able to see, were full of interesting people and interesting discussions! Well done to Paco from G*M*S Magazine for such a great job on those! Next year (Oh dear, am I already agreeing to go along again already) I will definitely make more time to visit them! The guests on the panels looked amazing and every time I passed the room it seemed to be packed!

Everyone who I met was amazingly friendly and there was plenty people I met who truly star-struck me. I would never imagine myself meeting these people normally and every single one was friendly and so enthused with what they were making and bringing out! Normally I find myself after these events really difficult to get excited about games for a little while as I am usually so burnt out from talking and interviewing that I want to step away from a gaming table for a while. Instead the minute I got home at 10pm on Sunday (after leaving around 2.30pm!) my husband and I cracked a new board game we picked up and starting playing immediately! My love for gaming in general has really been kindled by the events of the convention!

Unfortunately due to a busy schedule of recording interviews and talking I didn’t get to do any of the other things that are involved at the convention, like visit the play testing area, or get to join in any of the tournaments or demos that were happening, again I think next year I will definitely make some time to go ahead and look around and get involved a bit more! From what I saw from the people playing there was plenty of furrowing brows thinking of new strategies and laughter and smiles at the sudden twists and turns a game can do.

Of course it wouldn’t be fair to sing all the praises of the place without having to point out the downsides. I was very fortunate to have my husband with me who brought me food and drinks, but when you are being charged £5 for a large latte at the local coffee shop and being warned about a pint of beer in the local bar costing over £6 you have to be prepared that food and drinks are going to be expensive at this venue! If you are willing to walk a little bit there are places that are nominally cheaper but being so close to the NEC expect to pay more than you would normally. The staff were really not expecting what happened this weekend I suspect and sometimes the attitude was slightly less than friendly. I think that most of them were shell shocked at the number of people walking through the doors. I was chatting to the folks behind Costa and even though they knew this was going to be a big event – to say they were suffering from Saturday wouldn’t be too far from the truth!

I didn’t get the time I wanted to meet and speak to all those people who were there. I got a fleeting chance to see Andrew and Jenny Harman again and get all excited about Frankenstein’s bodies with a whole load of stuff I am not allowed to talk about. I got to sit and talk with Larry Roznai for far less time than I would have liked and I got to finally see Cornish Smugglers in action and talk to the creators (Go to the kickstarter!). I never got a chance to say hello to Dom at Cubicle 7 which makes me very sad as well as many others I wanted to say hello to.

There is one thing I picked up from this Expo: it is truly all about the games. Whether you are a gamer, a retailer, a distributor or a game designer/writer there is something for you here from networking, trying out new games or discussing your ideas with others! I heartily recommend you get yourself along next year to experience this amazing event and enjoy all of the wonderful things going on. Just try to not get run over by a Dalek on your way around the venue.

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