I joined the tabletop games industry as a blogger only recently (less than a year ago actually) and my journey really started when I visited UK Games Expo in 2018. I had started to work on a little project that I thought might eventually make it onto Kickstarter, and I felt that by attending the event I could do a little research, maybe get some contacts and generally get a better feel for the tabletop games industry and community. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, because the UK Games Expo is an amazing event, and the whole atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming. I would argue that my visit to the expo made up my mind about wanting to do more within this great community – and I knew I had to return for UK Games Expo 2019.
UK Games Expo 2018
Birmingham NEC Arena
Photographer Ben Broomfield
I was planning to become one of the many amazing volunteers who help make this event so great and friendly. There are many ways of offering your time and in return get free entry, meals and accommodation, which is definitely worth considering if you want to attend for more than a day and don’t think you can afford the hotel for example. There is a whole page on the website which explains how volunteering for UK Games Expo works. However, other commitments meant that this year I will only be able to attend on the last day, the Sunday, so volunteering isn’t an option for me.
Last year I was lucky to meet Richard and Jennifer Ham of Rahdo Runs Through and Jennifer Ham Hand Made Glass fame. I bought a couple of glass items off Jennifer, and I even got a fist bump from Richard, which was special, even though I was star struck. After all, it was Richard’s videos who inspired me to go down the path that I am on now.
However, the visit wasn’t about rubbing shoulders with the stars of the industry. I was there to do some work, and I certainly did that. Everyone I spoke to was very welcoming, friendly and happy to answer my many questions, which is especially amazing given that I was there on the last day of the exhibition, so everyone must have been tired and ready to go home.
So I bought my ticket for 2019 a while ago for the last day of the show, the Sunday, and started planning my next visit. My focus this year will be on saying hello and thanking my Patreon supporters who are at the exhbition (James Naylor of Magnate fame, Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules), and on talking to people from the industry whom I have gotten to know via Twitter (#TeamTrevor for example). I also want to tentatively contact the publishers and game designers at the show to see if they would be happy for me to review any of their games, which would be amazing.
I also wanted to take videos and photos, write about my experiences of the event in my blog, and maybe even conduct interviews, if I could pluck up the courage. However, that meant that I should apply for a press pass. My follower numbers aren’t huge, compared to many other people in the industry. I’m just a small blog. Yet, the UK Games Expo always struck me as an event that did their best to keep the industry fresh and encourage anyone and everyone to join and be the next generation of people to keep things alive. So I thought, let’s try and see if I can get a press pass.
Again, UK Games Expo didn’t disappoint me. I got a response within a few days and my press pass was approved. I was over the moon and still can’t quite believe it. It is another example that shows that the exhibition is really welcoming, and that it wants you to join in and tell people about how great the event is and how much fun you had playing games, seeing people and talking to exhibitors.
UK Games Expo is also very family friendly. There is a whole family zone where children, and grown-ups, can sit down and play games from a wide range that will be available free of charge. In fact, you are likely to see children explaining games to adults here, which is amazing to see. The event certainly makes a huge effort to bring the next generation into the industry.
So I’m definitely looking forward to attending again. I am sure I will be tired by the end of the day, but I will feel happy and content. It will be great to be immersed in a community of like-minded people and feel the enjoyment of playing games.
If you’re going on the Sudnay too and want to catch up, please let me know in the comments below. I can’t promise anything, but it would be great to meet some of you and say hello. I’ll also have Mint Tin Mini Skulduggery with me, and again I don’t want to promise anything, but if there is time and a free table, maybe we can play a game. So I’ll see you there!