Jun 09

UK Games Expo 2017 Report: Family Gaming Con

 

As usual, I counted down to UK Games Expo for several weeks on the blog. Now the big day has passed, so it is time to report back. We attended Expo on Friday 2nd June, at Birmingham NEC. As usual, I counted down to UK Games Expo for several weeks on the blog.

 

See my Conventions page for the 2016 reports

 

Now the big day has passed, so it is time to report back. We attended Expo on Friday 2nd June, at Birmingham NEC. I divided this report into six sections:

  • Travel
  • Trade Hall
  • Friendly Faces
  • Digital Geek
  • The Family Geek
  • Expo 2018

 

 

 

Travel

Thankfully, I was driven to Expo again this year. The entire trip was part of a weekend holiday, with my wife driving as I navigated. Eldest son chose to stay with Gran, so Gerrard accompanied us for the second year. The boys remain far too disruptive for us to take them both at the same time.

 

Navigating was a little easier this year, although heavy motorway traffic delayed our arrival. After four hours in the car, I am not at my best for Expo. Staying at a hotel nearby would be a better option, so we may look into that for another year.

 

 

Trade Hall

I was prepared for the size of Expo this year, which helped me to cope. I also had a list of games I wanted to buy which gave me focus. My prepared map of the trade hall was useful, but lacked the street names present in the brochure map. In the end, I switched between the two versions. Once again, Wotan Games had their awesome double-decker bus. I really should try a game aboard the bus next year.

 

As I had a list of games to buy, I visited many more trade stands this year. The overall plan of researching games in advance on BoardGame Geek, then searching for them at the show, worked well. I should repeat this model in the future. Of course, the main game I bought was not from this list, but that is how life works sometimes. At least I did buy a boxed boardgame this year.

 

 

Friendly Faces

Last year, we noted the friendliness of the drivers on the NEC shuttle bus. This was  even more evident this year. A special shout-out to the driver who welcomed aboard “ladies, gentlemen and storm troopers” in honour of Gerrad dressing up as a storm trooper. The driver also ended his tannoy speech with “May the Force be with you”!

 

This year, my main interaction at Expo was with traders. I had a wonderful chat with Ron at Lazy Juggler. I also enjoyed my conversation with the lady at Magic Geek, talking about Rory’s Story Cubes. Most of the staff I spoke with in my hunt for Tiny Epic Galaxies were likewise helpful.

 

Most, but not all. One famous Northern retailer with a large, wraparound stall, was not so blessed with helpful staff. I asked about the character packs for Hero Realms, to be told they were “round the other side.” In other words, I had to queue up on the other side of the stall, and ask another member of staff. Nope, lost a sale there.

 

Finally, to end on a high note, the staff at the Esdevium Games demo area were very friendly. One young lady talked us through the rules for Ticket to Ride, and later my wife asked a different lady about the expansion boards. They were both friendly and chatty. This attitude is a credit to Esdevium, and typical of the Games Expo staff in general.

 

 

Digital Geek

Sadly, my list of friendly faces does not include any internet friends. For all my determination to connect more at Expo, I failed in the end. There are several possible reasons for this.

 

I specifically bought a data package for my phone, to allow me to tweet from the venue. Overall, this package worked well for me. However, the additional power requirements make this option hard on my phone. I will repeat this data package for Dragonmeet, but I need a portable recharge pack for my phone to ensure I am online for the entire event.

 

However, even though I had the option to use Twitter, I did not really take advantage of that fact. I need to train myself to devote time to social media through the day. Simply carrying the phone in my pocket while I browse stalls is not a visible presence on social media. This is an improvement on last year, when I left the phone in the car. Yet, it was still not good enough, and I must integrate social media into my day better. Maybe it is an age thing.

 

The second reason for a lack of connection with internet friends was the fact I was not in the dedicated roleplaying area. Most of my internet friends are roleplayers, so walking around a trade hall heavy on boardgames is not the best way to meet them. My friends were off roleplaying, so we never connected. This is less of a problem at the smaller Dragonmeet convention.

 

 

The Family Geek

Managing Gerrard was a large part of my focus at Expo, as this is my usual job as a Geek Dad. It felt like we were dragging him around the stalls when he just wanted to sit down, and then he quickly grew bored when we sat down to play Ticket to Ride. This is a typical parenting experience, but it took my attention away from Expo.

 

It was great to walk around to trade hall with my wife, and have someone to chat with about what we saw. Yet, Gerrard was not really having fun, and it impacted all of us. We saw a lot of the show, and it was worth the experience of attending. I just long for the time when he is more enthusiastic and we can all focus on the games.

 

 

Expo 2018

Assuming Expo runs again over half-term, then we plan to return. This is likely to be another year with only one son in tow. Maybe eldest will choose to attend in 2018. As my wife enjoyed this year a lot more, the trick seems to be to roam as a family.

 

The plan to research a short list of boardgames worked well for me. I had greater focus, even though my first pick was not available. Likewise, the data package was a good step forward, but I need to integrate social media into my day a lot more.

 

As ever, browsing the brochure after the day highlighted something else I wanted to see. I am not sure how to avoid that happening in the future. I also failed to board the Wotan bus. I really do need to push myself to be a bit more sociable at conventions. Maybe that is something I can work on at Dragonmeet this year.

 

 

Conclusion

My second visit to Expo was definitely better than the first. We came home with a proper boardgame this year, which I failed to achieve last time. The wants list was only half-completed, so I may resort to buying online, or waiting for Dragonmeet. The hunt for Tiny Epic Galaxies will continue.

 

Were you at UK Games Expo? How did you enjoy the convention? What cool game did I miss? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

Happy Gaming

Phil

 

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  1. […] Last week I posted an overview of my family day at Expo. […]

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