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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Format 2023

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Manchester has become a mecca for the UK’s videogame industry, due in part to Manchester university’s engagement with the games development community.  It is therefore no surprise that Manchester has become the home for Format; the UK’s leading games industry community nightlife event.

Format is an annual event for game studios, developers and streamers to connect with the gaming community and showcase their talents.  Anyone expecting a convention or expo, with the associated trappings, may have been disappointed, as Format is primarily a networking night for influencers and developers.  That said, there is a lot to enjoy, even for the casual gamer, as Format is ultimately a celebration of gaming.

This year’s Format was held on 25th May, which is appropriate since it is Geek Pride Day, National Towel Day (in celebration of Douglas Adams’ birthday) and the Glorious 25th May (in memory of Terry Pratchett).  Thursday was an unusual night for such an event, given that it continued well into Friday morning.  This may have been tough for those that had an early start the next day.  However, it also meant that the organisers had greater choice of venues.

To say Format was a packed-out affair would be an understatement.  All three floors of the Impossible nightclub were filled to bursting with video games from a variety of independent studios.  One of the biggest names there was Team17, with their World War 2 shooter Hell Let Loose. There was also a VR rig set up for demonstrating some innovative games.

The standout game had to be Hell Let Loose, for its excellent sense of immersion, as it recreated the experience of WW2.  However, this was a game that required teamwork – just diving straight in meant there was little chance of developing a plan.  There were dozens of games to play, including a neat storyboard game, which projected a game onto pop-up books and players navigated themselves across the page.  There was also Rhythm Towers, which combined music with tower defence mechanics, allowing players to create a variety of medleys whilst defending themselves.

Almost everyone there was in their twenties or thirties.  This is an event intended for a younger audience and the music policy reflects that.  However, it remains welcoming for all ages; all that is required is a passion for gaming.

There were also some great cosplayers, including one who had accessorised the Spartan armour from Halo with an LED lightshow, creating a disco version of the Master Chief that was used to great effect.

The venue itself was incredibly busy and filled to the seams, with lots happening throughout the night.  Format was sold out, and with all the associated hardware that comes with a gaming night, it felt even more crowded.  Format is an event that is very much growing and may need to find a larger venue in future.  Fortunately, it was a mild night, which allowed people to expand into the outdoor area; otherwise it would have been intensely crowded inside.

Overall; Format was a great night in Manchester that celebrated the unbridled innovation of indie developers, whilst being a fun night for anyone into gaming.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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Format was a great night in Manchester that celebrated the unbridled innovation of indie developers, whilst being a fun night for anyone into gaming.Format 2023