Thoughts from UK Games Expo

A silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud is the opportunities that virtual gaming and virtual conventions is offering us. Many of us love to attend our conventions in-person because it is where we connect, meet new people, and try out new games. And virtual gaming is a bit clunky most of the time, and it just isn’t the same when you aren’t together.

But have you ever had a convention you wanted to attend but couldn’t? Can’t get time off work, or just can’t afford plane tickets and/or the hotel costs? UK Games Expo was one of those for me. I always thought that I’d like to attend someday. Because of C-19, this year UK Games Expo went virtual, and offered free badges.  A friend and I got together on Zoom, then we “wandered” the exhibit hall. It was fun! We had the whole exhibit hall to ourselves and could browse to our hearts content, ooh-ing over that game and aah-ing over that accessory.

As we browsed we found a game called D6 Dungeon, which was a Kickstarter earlier this year. We hadn’t heard of it before, but it looked interesting, and we saw that they were doing virtual game demos and live plays. So we signed up to watch a live play on Sunday morning. We had a good time watching the live play and talking with the game creators. There were only about six people in the discussion so we got some nice one-on-one time with them. We decided to purchase copies of the game and made some new friends across the pond. And they were interested in doing some virtual live demos/plays at Gamicon in February.

This made me realize that C-19 is teaching us to step out of our boxes. When we get back to having in-person conventions, what great opportunities we will still have with the virtual gaming lessons we have learned. How will we be able to utilize this?  How many conventions will I still be able to attend in a virtual manner after the crisis is over? I hope a lot! There are a lot of additional benefits to in-person con-goers. Global access to guests we haven’t been able to access before, virtual demos and expanded online dealer rooms. And for those people who can’t attend our cons in-person, they could still watch live streams from the in-person con, attend game demos and live-plays with in-person attendees, participate in con events and have virtual seats at in-person tables, as well as access the dealer rooms for con attendee specials.

Though this isn’t the world we want to be in right now, it is great to see the gaming community coming together to create spaces that expand our access and can grow our conventions in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We should seize these opportunities and use them to create new spaces where we can be together, even when we aren’t able to be close to one another.

Our hobby is full of amazing people, and in attending the UK Games Expo I was reminded of how big our community is and how much we have to share.

Until we can be together again in-person, game on… virtually!