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Thursday, June 20, 2024

UK Games Expo 2023

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The UK Games Expo is the largest tabletop gaming event in the UK, and this year’s was their biggest event so far, despite the train strikes at the weekend.  Approximately 32,000 people descended on Birmingham for three days of tabletop gaming in all its myriad of forms.

The event was held during the first weekend of June and incorporated board gaming, roleplaying, wargames and card games.  There were special guests giving readings and talks about their work throughout the event, as well as re-enactors and cosplayers.  It was great to see some of the exhibitors entering the spirit of the event by wearing costumes.

Special Guests included John Robertson and his Dark Room show, with both of his shows sold out.  Luke Gygax of GaryCon was talking about life with his father Gary.  Games Workshop co-founder and Fighting Fantasy co-creator Sir Ian Livingstone had been scheduled to be there all weekend, but unfortunately could only be there on the Friday.

There were hundreds of creators, such as Eddy Webb (developer of Realms of Pugmire, amongst many others), gamebook author Jonathan Green (Ronin 47, Dracula – Curse of the Vampire, etc) and the artist Johan Nohr of the Stockholm Kartell (Mörk Borg, Cy_Borg, etc).

There were a distinct number of exhibitors from America this time, such as Chaosium (creators of Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game) who were impressed with the scale of the UK Games Expo.  Some of these commented they hope to attend the event again in the coming years.

The Expo was spread across three halls at the Birmingham NEC, plus the nearby Hilton hotel.  This space was used incredibly well, with two exhibition halls for exhibitors and vendors and the other for tournaments and ticket queuing.  Meanwhile, the Hilton was set aside for readings, roleplay sessions and board gaming.

Although the inherent format of the UK Games Expo remains unchanged, it never feels like a repeat of previous events.  Just as games evolve and trends change, so too are the exhibitors constantly changing.  There were lots of new games being previewed and released, such as Zeo Genesis by Andy Chambers and Gav Thorpe, and War on Terra by AWA Games.

It was interesting to note how art in roleplaying games has come to the fore in recent years.  Roleplaying games need to have more than just rules: they also need to have a thematic core and portray the intended atmosphere of the game.  A prime example of this is the recently-released Stokerverse roleplaying game by Nightfall Games, which uses exceptional artwork throughout the rulebook to convey the themes of the game.

Although the space was used efficiently, the exhibition halls felt crowded on the Saturday, to the point that it became difficult to navigate the event.  This might have been overwhelming for some, and would have been difficult for anyone with small children.

Despite the crowds on Saturday, the UK Games Expo has gone from strength to strength to become an incredibly welcoming event that celebrates all forms of tabletop 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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Although Saturday was busy, he UK Games Expo is a fantastic day out for anyone even vaguely interested in tabletop gaming.UK Games Expo 2023