The annual UK Games Expo, held last weekend at the NEC in Birmingham, has just become the third largest hobby games convention in the world. For local designers like us it is, unsurprisingly, a pretty big deal.
This year a number of us coughed up £25 each to co-exhibit with Utherwald Press, an indie RPG and fiction publisher. In other words, our group had half a stand to itself: not bad considering we’re just under a year old! Our stand is pictured above with, from left to right: Scott Moore, myself (Richard Buxton) and James Baillie, who also runs Exilian. We displayed a selection of our games, some information from publisher and designer friends of ours, some of designer David Wake’s self-published novels and an assortment of scented candles. We counted a total of 15 creative people represented and the result was surely the messiest stand at the Expo (this, sadly, is not an award category). Lesson learnt for next time: ensure there is an eye-catching centerpiece amid the mass of information.
We had plenty to do besides promoting our stand: Chris, Sean, Rory, Scott and I once again made use of the Playtest UK zone, which is a fantastic resource for new designers. Rory, in his role as a journalist, also saw previews of upcoming games to write about on his blog. Scott and I attended the publisher-designer networking event, again organised by Playtest UK, which was a mixed success. A large number of designers turned up, not quite sure of what to expect, and, unless you were meeting a specific person, it was quite hard to track down publishers! The event swiftly became a huge playtesting session, and I did relieve myself of a few business cards and flyers. It was the first time this event had been put on and I’m sure that, with a bit more structure, next year’s event could be excellent.
The was by far the most enjoyable Expo I’ve been to. I’d recommend the strategy of clubbing together to share a stand: it gave me a useful base and meant I had an Exhibitor pass, which provided easy access to the main hall, even on the Thursday before! It was great to meet in person a number of people I’d met only online. I also met – coincidentally or otherwise – a number of people from Derby who were interested in upcoming games, so I’m already planning a trip there. In addition, I’m now looking at other conventions to exhibit at – any advice in this area would be very welcome in the comments! I’ve written more about my personal Expo experience here.
So there you have it: a successful, if exhausting, weekend for us all. If you haven’t checked out the Expo before, we’d all highly recommend it. See you on the 1st to the 3rd of June 2018!