It’s been a rather tumultuous couple of weeks, but I’ve finally got around to having enough headspace to collate some thoughts on my experiences this year at the UK Games Expo at the NEC in early June. With attendance coming in at not far off 22,000 this year, the size of this event has grown significantly year by year, and is the largest of its kind in the UK.
This year marked a couple of firsts for me, it was my first time as a volunteer, and the first time I’ve not stayed at the Hilton (due to how much the price has increased since we first stayed there!).
The Volunteering Experience
I volunteered for Alley Cat games, having had a great time playtesting Dice Hospital some months ago. Caezar and the team were welcoming and friendly, Nicola was like a whirlwind of efficiency, providing much needed tea and snacks, and Kuly was full of smiles and appreciation even by the end of the Sunday. We were busy from opening until close every day, and I loved it!
It felt like I’d arrived in my dream job, and I discovered that I love sharing and demoing/teaching games almost as much as I enjoy playing them!
I spent most of my volunteering time with Coral Islands, a rather pretty dice stacking game. This is due to come to kickstarter soon. It’s a lovely concept, based on regrowing the coral reef, with artwork by Sabrina Miramon (Dice Hospital, Photosynthesis, Quadropolis).
I spent some time on the Sunday with Ruthless, a pirate themed deck builder-with-a-difference by Roland McDonald. This proved to be an engaging take on the theme, incorporating a poker-like set collection aspect to the deck building element.
So what else did I do …..
One of the advantages of having the exhibitor pass is the ability to get into the hall early, so when I wasn’t needed first thing on the Sunday morning I took the opportunity to look around a quiet and almost deserted hall….
I soon found Mark and Barry with their Wreck and Ruin game, according to Barry, we were “brutal”…. though looking at the number of 1’s I rolled, it doesn’t look too brutal to me!
Wreck and Ruin…. …. and some terrible dice rolls!
Microbrew from One free elephant is a “Game in a tin” where players compete to make beers to match customers requirements.
It wasn’t all shopping and volunteering though, I went to the live podcast featuring Paul Grogan (Gaming Rules), Edward Uhler (Heavy Cardboard), Matt Evans (Creaking Shelves) and Tom Heath (Slickerdrips), and rather than tell you about it I’ll just link it here .
Paul Grogan ran a very successful charity raffle on Saturday evening, and raised something in the region of £2500! There were some excellent prizes, but this year my raffle-fu wasn’t with me for the evening.
While I had been busy in the hall and at the raffle, friends had acquired a table in one of the large open gaming rooms in the Hilton. It was rather busy in there, with numerous gamers wandering in search of a free table. Rising Sun, as a new purchase, and also something which would play well with 5 players was on the agenda Saturday evening. I’m not sure whether it was my tired brain, the auction mechanic, turn orders or a combination of things, but I did struggle with it that evening. I’ll likely try it again though, before writing it off as not one for me.
One stall definitely worth visiting, for me, was to see Jenefer Ham , who crafts colourful meeple jewellery and ornaments, and other items from coloured glass. I was fortunate enough to win a dichroic glass meeple pendant from Jen’s Sunday afternoon raffle, I was super happy with this. Jen was so smiley and friendly (and I may have come away with a moople necklace too!)
I was coralled into a Sunday afternoon photo-op (still smiling!) with friends and
Darren John Robertson, the energy filled comedy mind behind the Dark Room events. I think I made him grin by mentioning something about a flamboyant potato!
Not pictured here, but of honorable mention was bumping into Kat (Iplayred) on numerous occasions, without whom I would not have in my possession a game titled “Festival of a Thousand Cats”. This is still waiting to be played, but how could I resist with a title like that! Somewhere lurking around on the interwebs is a picture of the two of us from the Sunday afternoon. We might actually get to meet up an play something at a con one day!
That’s the summary of my UKGE. Would I volunteer again? For Alley Cat – in an instant, I loved them! And the demoing too.
Until next year, UKGE …. in the meantime, I will be at Handycon in August, and hopefully back to Harrogate for the next Airecon! See you all soon!