Updated: Sep 17, 2019
For the last 7 years I have been attending the UK Games Expo as a member of the press with the UK Gaming Media Network. In that time I have watched the convention grow from a small hotel to a convention hall with a full sized double decker bus in it and room to stack three more on top of it and twenty more either side! As the convention has grown things have changed, not just the size and scope of the convention but the intangible elements that were tied to those quaint more intimate venues.
However, the heart of the Expo is still in the right place and those that organize the event still strive to be as inclusive as possible, providing activities for all ages and styles of games, whether it be miniatures, rpgs, collectable card games or traditional board games.
So, with my seventh year looming what am I looking forward to the most from the UK Games Expo?
Eclectic Games Companies
One thing that the UKGE has always been good at is supporting the little guys. When the convention was smaller the little companies were the meat of the show, before companies like Z-man, Queen, Mayfair and the like even noticed the show was happening. Now that the show has grown to be in the top five of the board gaming conventions in the world it would be easy to forget those roots, to shun the small companies with their handmade games but that would not be in the spirit of the UK Games Expo and because of that we can still see wonderful people from the likes Hopwood Games, Yay Games and Dogeared Games, sitting right alongside Fantasy Flight Games.
Dogeared Games may be small but we like ‘em
On thing that has always struck me about the UK Games Expo has been it’s approach to a family friendly gaming atmosphere. Some conventions struggle to shake the “guys in black t-shirts” stereotype but the UKGE has always managed to offer an inclusive atmosphere. Much of this is due to the sterling work of Imagination Gaming and the family zone. However, I think the convention as a whole has always been welcoming to families, through the work of the volunteers, the demo teams and the seminar panels. It is wonderful to see a convention making a concerted effort to showcase gaming to the next generation and promoting gaming with families as this is the best way to grow the hobby in a healthy and fun environment.
Interview Imagination Gaming about the Family Zone
Time with Friends
For me, the Expo is that one time a year when I get to see all my gaming friends in one place and we get to play some games! The Open Gaming areas at the UKGE have always been a vibrant scene filled with people playing games. Some are having fun, others are seriously studying a board and some are doing something indecipherable with hedgehogs or lemons. However, as the years have gone on the amount of space required to host the open gaming has grown and grown until last year every single conference room in the Hilton Metropole was jammed with frenzied dice rolling, cardboard consuming gamers from every corner of the country and beyond.
As we shoot all day we often don’t have time to relax and enjoy the con, so the evening gaming for me is a time to relax and play games and meet new people. Every year I make new friends and catch up with old acquaintances, all while enjoying a nice board game or playtesting a new prototype.
Catching up with Andy Hopwood
For more about what what goes on at the Expo check out our video from a couple of years ago and just multiply everything by one hundred!