Hopwood Games

UK GAMES EXPO REPORT - The Search For Nick

UK Games Expo

You might think that UK Game Expo is about games. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all about those lovely shiny board games, the clever little card games, the immersive role-playing games, the tactical wargames and other bizarre activities which I’ll just call moregames for now. But, guess what, that’s only half the story.


The UK Games Expo at the Metropole in Birmingham is really about people. About 6000 people to be exact, getting together to revel in playing, meeting and creating. I didn’t get to meet all of them but, at the risk of missing a few out, I plan to tell you about the ones I did meet.


I’ll tell you about them in no particular order because that’s how you meet people at the expo, unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s a fleeting wave and sometimes you spend delightful hours. Sometimes it’s re-acquainting old friendships and sometimes it’s a new beginning. It’s always good.


There was David from Backspindle Games showing off the exhilarating game Luchador. It’s a mexican wrestling dice game which encourages high fives, loud spanish exhortations and energetic poses. David is genuinely scary with his wrestling mask on and a genuinely decent bloke without it. Deserved award winners this year. Get into Luchador here.


Roger, Andrea, Rachael, Dan, George and Terence from Coiledspring. These guys brought my latest game design, Dodekka, through artwork and print in time for the Expo in excellent fashion. For a game designer, having a team who can successfully produce and distribute a game means that you free up large tracts of space in your brain for making new games. Rachael was also responsible for organising a meeting between Mr Chris Barrie and this Red Dwarf fan on the Saturday afternoon, a particular highlight for me. A special mention goes out to Freddie and Harry (”The Gods of Ether and Fire”) and to Mr Living Statue who ironically added a good deal of animation to the stand! More on all of Coiledsprings games (including Dodekka) here.


The guys at the UKGMN who do sterling work thrusting the subject of games into the melting pot of cyber space. Apparently there’s over 50 bloggers now talking about boardgames, it’s just another sign that the world is starting to catch on. Loads more here.


The organisers and their MASSIVE team. They were ALL great, helpful and pleasant. Many are volunteers and they help because they want this expo to work well and, in a lovely circle of cool, it’s partly because of this that it does. I organise an event that has nothing to do with games and I know what an intangible thing success is in this field. You have to throw everything at it and hope that you’ve done more than enough. You’re in an unspoken agreement with everyone attending that you all want it to work, and then it does, and whilst you can see that it’s probably because of all the preparation and attention to detail, you never really know how. You just can’t see it all at once, you just ‘feel’ the atmosphere and see the smiling faces and breathe a sigh of relief and maybe get to enjoy it a bit before it’s all over. Well done Richard, Mick, Tony, John, Patrick and all the people that support you.


Talking of supporters I have to mention Gavin, Hugh, Alex, Gary, Peter, Sharon & William who all helped out on my stand for a while allowing me to swan about looking busy in various other ways. There are many other people who make it possible for me to be there but these guys deserve a special mention as they were on the frontline.


Nigel Scarfe and his Imagination Games team running the children’s zone. Anyone who wants to see the board games hobby flourish has to concede that children need to be shown what it’s all about. It’s NOT about losing, being confused or watching grown-ups demonstrate their own abilities. If we don’t show kid’s that it’s about sharing, learning, competing and enjoying then how can we expect them to grow up understanding what it’s all about. Everyone should spend at least one hour in the kid’s zone to see how to do this, Nigel’s team are experts in this field and have made a huge impact on the Expo experience. In a couple of years there’ll be teenagers investing time and effort into games at the Expo who were inspired by what they saw this weekend. Imagination Gaming


One person I always look forward to meeting is the remarkable Bez. This time was a special treat as I got to play his new game. It’s one of the best gaming experiences I can ever remember and involved people tying themselves in knots, lying on chairs, laughing and swearing in equal measure. I understand that he’ll be launching it as a kickstarter project so I shan’t say much more now but I WILL let you know more when it’s launched.


Talking of kickstarter projects it’s worth checking out Miles Radcliffe’s latest game Brave The Elements. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet but it does look gorgeous and if his first game, Medieval Mastery, is anything to go by you won’t be disappointed. Brave The Elements


JP Treen launched his kickstarter campaign for Next England Captain. A delightful card game which focuses on the life of a footballer. It has twists and turns and plenty of tongue in cheek humour. Anyone who likes football should check this out. Anyone who enjoys card games should check this out. Next England Captain


These guys are both independent publishers working hard to get their games noticed without a massive marketing budget. If you can’t support them directly on kickstarter you can still help by passing the information along on whatever social media you use.


My last thoughts will be lavished on a very special person indeed. Will it be Rob or Sarah who we spent an enjoyable few games with? Will it be Lewis with his infectious enthusiasm? Will it be Brett Gilbert or Rob Harris and their great Playtest team? Will it be the ever present and excellent ambassador for gaming Leo “Lecardo” Marshall? No. All these people and many more contributed much to the Expo but one man stands out for me. It’s Nick.


On Friday night we were just about to begin a game of Niche and someone “plonked” themselves in the vacant chair beside us. Now, normally you’d expect a brief “May I?” before being joined in a game so we all looked up. Nick suddenly looked shy. He’d landed on the wrong table. He apologised and went to leave at which point I asked him his name. “Nick” said Nick. “NICK!” I replied, “It’s Andy” in a tone that suggested we’d known each other for years. Quick as a flash Gary leaned over and took his hand, “NICK, how have you been mate?”. Then “You remember Rob and Sarah.” Nick was looking bewildered but we invited him to join our game, which he did. By the end of that, guess what, we did all know Nick and he knew us. So maybe he had got the right table after all, I know we thought so.


So to all the Nicks' and the new friendships that were made at this last Expo I say this. I look forward to seeing you again in 2015 at the next UK People Expo (with games). UK Games Expo