UK GAME EXPO 2020
By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on August 26, 2020
It's the year 2020 and we are all facing a global pandemic. Unfortunately, this caused all the conventions we normally like to go to, to either get cancelled or get a virtual equivalent. Well, to be honest, until this weekend, I wouldn't even thought of attending such an online event, but I already played a few games using the new technologies and it ain't half bad. We even played some Dungeons and Dragons over Discord. So when Jonathan from Barpig mentioned they would organize an AWESOME feed for the upcoming Virtual UK Games Expo, I decided to give it a go.
Because I just got back from a summer holiday, I was completely unprepared as to what to expect and what to do on this Expo. I started my first day of the Expo with missing the opening stream. So I decide to check which games would be playable during the Expo and in what way. To my surprise there are quite a few I would like to check out and meanwhile, I watched the Cosplay Runway Show streamed by Barpig and DAMN, they gathered some fine cosplayers for their show!
The second day of the expo I arrived more prepared, ready to play a game of Small World of Warcraft, I headed straight to the Days of Wonder Discord booth and squeezed myself onto a virtual demo table. And actually, it immediate feels good. A nice demo lady called Corine explained the game, we chatted with each other and we even talked about what other things we wanted to see during the Expo. Later on, I watched a bit of Ticket to Ride Amsterdam, which I don't necessarily wanted to play, but I got invited to the table anyway, because there was still a free seat and they weren't that far into the game.
At the Medusa Games discord I checked in for a game of The Great Fire of London 1666, which just got a two player expansion. The game was explained to me by Jane, who just happened to be the wife of organizer Richard. After the game we had a nice chat about what we thought about the Virtual Expo so far and although we were sceptic, we were both enjoying our self so far. London got burned to the ground by the way. Sorry, good people from London.
In between games there were more than enough streams to check out, ranging from game demonstrations and new game presentations to how to make a game. My interest went to the Diversity, Inclusion and Visibility in gaming stream, organized by Barpig and Coaching for geeks and what an interesting group of people they brought together. For me, this was the best stream and highlight of the Expo.
On the third day, I have had some other work related things to do, but I did manage to squeeze in a game of Zombie Kids in, which I finally hope to find in the Netherlands for sale now, because I really liked it and I think our oldest will like it too. I mean, come on; it's a game with Zombies! Enough said! The game was demoed at Coiledspring Games, where I also had a quick look at Gembatan, the game that won the Judge Award: Best Abstract Game.
Later that day, the designer of Northgard: Uncharted Lands, Adrian Dinu joined a demo session at the expo which I would have loved to have joined as well, because I really like the game, as you can read in our review of this game which, incidentally, is still going strong on Kickstarter. Adrian was surely not the only designer attending this virtual gathering. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons to visit cons; meeting your "heroes".
Talking about heroes; I ended my day by watching some parts of the Dungeons and Dragons mini campaign on the Barpig heroes stream, created by Rick Vechel from Vechel Fantasy. Afterwards, I was invited to the online dance party, again hosted by Barpig, with DJ Gothicat behinds the wheels of steel and we danced the night away over Zoom!
To be honest, for me there is in no way whatsoever that a virtual playground, however fun it might be, will be able to replace an actual convention. I simply love wandering through the crowded halls with my camera, meeting people and playing games. So, in line with what Jane from Medusa Games said to me; the buzz you feel when seeing those crowded corridors (which, even now, still gives me goosebumps while I am typing this) can't ever be replaced by a digital version.
But I surely had some great moments during this Virtual UK Games Expo and maybe we didn't quite feel that buzz, it surely was sparkling more often than not and it felt good to be around board game minded people once more and talk about what we like most. The organization did some good stuff to create a friendly digital board game environment and gathered some great people from the industry to give its visitors an awesome experience! Till next year (hopefully in Birmingham), my new friends!!!
UK GAME EXPO 2020
Made possible by:
UK Game Expo