I’ve covered gaming conventions before, but pure roleplaying conventions are a slightly different matter; such events are nothing but playing one-shot RPGs for a few hours (3-4 is usual, but it can go either way) with a break every so often. I’d never been to one before, but I decided to go along to this one just so I can say I’ve done it.
I make my way out of Birmingham International Airport, having just touched down after a few hours flying from Malaga. After stopping for a mediocre egg mayonnaise sandwich from Spar, I make my way to the NEC via the airport’s Air-Rail Link. Making my way down the escalator and past an overpriced Wetherspoons, I catch sight of those three little words that always set my heart aflutter…
Expo. Continue reading
By the time this comes out, the juggernaut that is The MCM Group will have left the NEC once again, only to return in Autumn. Last time I attended the convention, I got rather huffy over of going on a Saturday (the very idea!) as the last time I did it was far too noisy for my delicate sensibilities. Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go there yesterday (I considered going on both days, but my wallet protested most vociferously).
Well, it seems my fears were (mostly) unfounded. True, there were a few times where the aisle I happened to be in resembled Spaghetti Junction in the late afternoon, but for the most part the crowds stayed on the right side of “busy”, and everyone was having a good time, which is as it should be. As for the price hike in tickets, that was ameliorated by simply buying one online – this meant I “only” spent £11, instead of the downright extortionate £15 I had to fork over last time. Continue reading
… so I might as well have a quick rundown of some nice little seasonal things I’ve come across over the past week or so. No time like the present…
It’s always a little tradition of mine to listen to more radio in one fortnight then I normally do in six months, thanks to my going through the much-beloved Christmas Radio Times issue with a fine-tooth comb and highlighting any programmes of interest. Aside from a couple of documentaries highlighting how Christmases are spent in other cultures which were amusing and enlightening, there was one particular programme that I absolutely loved: Crisp And Even Brightly. Continue reading
While it’s perhaps the most well-known geeky convention in the West Midlands (local press showing up to photograph the best cosplayers doesn’t hurt) Birmingham Comic Con can be a victim of its own success; they’ve had to rent out a nearby hall just so people can queue to get in. On top of that, I’ve had to stop going on Saturdays, because frankly it’s just too busy on its first day for an old duffer like me. In my defence, the last time I went on a Saturday I was in a human traffic jam for the majority of my visit.
However, I’m not being entirely fair to MCM. They’ve clearly revised their layout plans since then to give far more room for congoers to walk about, without sacrificing floor space for vendors of neat stuff that actually comes from Japan, you guys. Continue reading
Once upon a time, there was a comic book convention called British International Comics Show (or Birmingham International Comics Show, if you lived in the West Midlands). It was held first at The Custard Factory, then at thinktank at Millennium Point, and was two days of people selling comics, talking about comics, and even drawing characters from comics… provided you had enough money to pay the person drawing them. It was fun, and Dave Gibbons always showed up.
However, one year Millennium Point decided to hire their floorspace out to somebody else. The people behind BICS were hurt, but decided to try somewhere else. That somewhere else turned out to be a Holiday Inn, of all places, for the rechristened Birmingham Comicon (not to be confused with MCM Birmingham Comic-con, which I will cover one of these days). It was still fun, and Dave Gibbons still showed up… but something had gone. Maybe it was the confusing layout of the new venue, or that it only went on for one day, or maybe it was the simple fact that organising a convention is bloody difficult work. Whatever it was, it meant only one thing; there would never be another BICS. Continue reading
The UK Games Expo hasn’t been around that long; it only started in 2007, making it a mere babe-in-arms compared to, say, the Origins Game Fair (1975) or the Essen International Spieltage (1982). However, it’s definitely one of the fastest-growing gaming conventions around, as shown by the necessity of the Expo to move from the Clarendon Suites to the Hilton Metropole back in 2013. I know the Clarendon wasn’t to everyone’s tastes (the chairman of my local roleplaying group refused to even entertain the notion of attending when they were held there, but became very interested when I mentioned they were now being held at the Metropole) but I rather liked the old place – the Masonic paraphernalia lent an odd atmosphere to any RPG or Living Dungeon (later Living Munchkin) sessions I attended, and the layout was a lot simpler than The Metropole… anybody who tells you they never got lost at the last two Expos is a liar.
There is certainly a lot more room in the Expo now, but for every new vendor that has room to sell their latest games, there are attendees to fill just as much space. Saturdays are always busiest at most weekend conventions, but things were pretty absurd at the Expo this year; my current GM at the aforementioned roleplaying club tried to get in a game of Ticket To Ride with some friends using the Expo’s Board Games Library… only to return it after finding there was no room to play it. I remember hearing that the staff at the Metropole were sceptical that there’s be more than 1,500 visitors when they first got the contract to host the Expo. Overall attendance that year was about 6,000 people. Continue reading