It is with bittersweet acceptance that we bid farewell to the UK Games Expo for another year. Whether visiting for just a day, or the whole event, I’m sure, like me, you have left with so many wonderful memories. Like a summer romance, it’s over all too soon. The memories, however, ensure that we each make a pact with ourselves to return, one year from now, to do it all over again…. Only next year, it will, of course, be bigger and better than ever before!
My feet ache, my eyes are heavy, but I am fueled by an overwhelming sense of love and admiration for this incredible community. A community that I am so proud to be a part of. Each year the Expo reminds me just how awesome the people of the board gaming world are and why I love to be a part of this community. Whether heading to the Expo to fill your shelves with the latest games, or demo and playtest unreleased titles, one thing you can’t avoid is the beautifully infectious atmosphere of the UK Games Expo. It’s the people that make the Expo what it is. From the organisers, exhibitors and retailers, to the volunteers and attendees. Everyone plays their part in making the weekend special. It’s a perfectly symbiotic relationship that can only flourish when each part has a mutual respect for its counterpart.
I’m a naturally introverted person, who usually spends his Expo hours milling from one booth to another, doing my best to blend into the tapestry of the event, without drawing too much attention. I am much more comfortable watching and listening, and just trying to soak up as much as I can throughout the weekend. And each year, despite anticipating it, I am still surprised by that familiar sense of pride and love I feel for my fellow gamers. It’s so special to see the gaming community come together the way it does. The UK Games Expo does such an incredible job of fostering an accepting and friendly atmosphere. There is no segregation or divide between the various groups. Designers, publishers, influencers, everyone is accessable and welcoming. This year was, without question, the most impressive example of this. Despite it’s rapid growth, both the Expo and the industry at large continue to foster a wonderfully inclusive nature.
From top to bottom the event was a truly memorable experience. To see independent, grass roots designers bring so many innovative and polished products to the Expo was a real testament to the industry. The hard work and dedication of independant companies never ceases to amaze or impress me. Right through to the top the event demonstrated just how quickly the industry is expanding and developing. I’ll talk more about specific games that impressed during the Expo in the coming weeks, but I want this article to focus on the overall experience and the people that made everything so special.
You could literally head to any section of the Expo and find something awesome going on. It’s so encouraging and inspiring to be surrounded by such enthusiasm. When you sit down for a demo and are greeted by not only a friendly face but also genuine passion and love, you can’t help but smile. And that’s what will endure for me. Everyone is smiling, everyone is happy and everyone is united. In a world where things aren’t always perfect and days of collective joy can be marred by cruel and unspeakable atrocities, our community can still come together to share our passion for gaming. Too cheesy? Well, maybe… but sometimes we need to take pride in who we are and what we stand for.
This is a place where you get to see people bringing their dreams to life as they share their projects with us all. You’ll see retailers happily joking around with customers, while haggling over prices for the latest games. You’ll see wonderfully crafted games, delivered with precision and class, on display for the first time. And what’s more, the person who spent countless hours bringing that game to life will be sat there telling you just why it’s so amazing!
It’s a place where you will see endless smiles on peoples faces as they wearily trudge from aisle to aisle with huge bags of loot. A place where you hear endless laughter and cheer. It’s a place that, for just a few days each year, so many of us call home. So as we say goodbye to this year, we also happily look forward to next year. And before I fall asleep, I’d like to say thank you so much to each and every person that attended, exhibited, volunteered and, of course, organised this magical event.
See you next year, folks!
Now, if you came here to find out about some of the amazing games the Expo had on show, don’t worry, things will be back to business around here soon enough! I’ve got a nice haul of games from the Expo, and more on the way! You can expect to see some new reviews and playthrough coming soon!