UK Games Expo 2017
Wow! What a busy 3 days! It's now a week since we left sunny Birmingham and drove 10 hours back to drizzling Aberdeen and I 'think' I've just about recovered. It was our first time attending the Expo and it was an amazing experience!
Our plans for the Expo weren't as robust as I would normally like. I'm the kind of person who likes to have every minutiae detail planned and we only decided to attend at the last minute. Unfortunately no one was available to look after Dr. Jones, our precious little ball of ragdoll fluff, so we weren't entirely sure Indiana would last the full 10 hour journey in the car in 20oc degree heat. He was fine though and the little mischief maker slept like a baby under my seat the entire time!
We merged our Expo plans along with a brief visit home to see family and arrived just after 9pm at our hotel in Meriden ready for the mayhem of Friday. Our hotel was nice and it was going to have to be as it was the only one within a 5 mile radius of the NEC that had rooms left! We're already planning ahead for UKGE18 and have reserved our rooms just in case.
Friday started early, too early for my liking, and began with a hissy fit from my other half as he thought he had left a crucial piece of X-Wing kit he needed for his tournament. Twenty minutes later, card found and on our way, we got to the NEC. By a stroke of luck we had been given press passes so after registering for my partner's tournament we queued up for the 9am Press Preview. It's strange to me now how large the hall felt when it was relatively empty of bodies, after the madness of Saturday, I can't imagine the hall not buzzing with the sound of thousands of bodies!
For the next 2 hours we slowly circled our way round the exhibitors tables getting some 1 on 1 time with developers. We were super excited to see a few projects we recently backed on Kickstarter along with some we missed out on.
Stand out games we saw included City of Kings, Sub Terra, Carcosa, Mars Rover, Flipping the Script, Dice Hospital, Nine Worlds and Perfect Crime. I've gone into more detail about each of the games here!
We then retreated back into the press room, Nath skipped off to Hall 3 to start his first game and I had a quick lunch while I wrote up some notes. I expected the first day of the Expo for me to be just acclimatising to the environment. I'm not the kind of person to go out at all by myself so the prospect of walking round the hall for the next 7 hours alone was daunting. Half an hour later, 6 games bought, I was in my element! I had never been somewhere where everyone was so inclusive and friendly. Never once did I feel awkward or out of place - I gleefully talked to some of the exhibitors I had spoken to on twitter and instagram, slapped my credit card down buying my board games wishlist at Chaos Cards and by the end of the day was shattered! Matters were made worse by the fact my ride home's tournament was running ridiculously late due to unavoidable technical difficulties, decisions were made and I bunkered down in the back of the car for a 2 hour nap till he was finished.
Saturday morning came and the extent of my walking on Friday was very apparent. Today would be a comfy trainer day! Again we drove over to the NEC, arriving by 9am, this time it looked a little fuller but I wasn't overly concerned. By the time I got inside it dawned on me how busy today was going to be. According to the UKGE website, Saturday had twice as many visitors as it had on the Friday and it really felt like it! This, mixed with the Comic-Con and European Championships, I started to feel a little claustrophobic. I couldn't saunter up and down the aisles or hope to partake in any demos, I was squeezing myself through bodies and by midday I had given up completely. If you're going to attend for only 1 day I'd really recommend either the Friday or the Sunday!
Most of my day was spent largely roaming between Halls 1 and 3. I'd watch some of the tournaments taking place then sit outside for a bit before wandering back to see if it had started to clear a little in the Expo hall. Luckily by 4pm it had died down meaning Nath and I got in a few demos before we headed home. A particular highlight of the day was seeing a demo copy of Petrichor and speaking to Dávid Turczi, the man behind games like Anachrony and Kitchen Rush. We also got to see a few people playing a demo of Zombies, Run!, a board game adaptation of the popular running app, which looked really cool! I have the app downloaded on my iPhone gathering dust, as much as I like to think I could be one of those people who chooses to go for a run - I'm only kidding myself! So a board game edition I can play in the comfort of my own home sounds amazing!
As much as I disliked how crowded it got, it was nice to relax a little watching the tournaments and larpers outside. Having the whole 3 days at the Expo meant I never felt pressured to cram in all the things I thought I wanted to do. I say 'thought' as I'm going to be honest with you, trying to plan your time there is almost impossible 😉
Sunday was our fun day! The only goal we had was to grab as much loot as possible and demo as many games as we could as we were planning on leaving after midday. It was considerably quieter this day than the rest, I assume it had a lot to do with the awful attacks in London the previous night but the increased security at the NEC meant I wasn't feeling as uneasy as I expected to. They were all great guys, really thorough (I think I showed at least 3 security guards the contents of my sandwiches) and I didn't see one person make any fuss. The sniffer dogs were so cute too! We managed to squeeze in a quick game of Star Wars Destiny (bad idea as we enjoyed it way more than we thought we would and now want to get it), a game of Zombie Babies! which will be on Kickstarter soon and won ourselves a free game courtesy of Big Potato Games!
All in all by Sunday afternoon I was sad to leave. I couldn't have imagined how much fun it was all going to be, really exhausting mind you, but fun! Safe to say we'll be back next year and are looking so forward to seeing you guys there too! 😀
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