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
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