With the pre show starting on Friday (no traders) just lots of opportunities to play games I arrived in Birmingham and having checked into the hotel found myself with a selection of three games rooms to choose from and a bar. Faced with knowing nobody, where to start? I took the plunge in the largest of the three rooms and went up to a group of three guys who looked like they were just getting a game out of a box and had a spare chair and asked if I could join them. Thankfully they said yes and so my journey and indeed the games began.
1st Game - Seeland
2nd Game Workshop of the World
As an aside, I love history but studied the Industrial Revolution for my ‘O’ level and struggled to enjoy this period. I had chosen History as a subject because I had expected to study the ancients, the reformation, the Napoleonic period, the age of Empires, the early 20th century ANYTHING but the Industrial Revolution, a disappointment that I have never fully gotten over. This meant that the theme of this game was never going to really work for me. So it was no great surprise that with my inexperience of auction games and having been dragged back to this traumatic point in my life I came 5th (last)!
An interlude for Dinner
With the blood sugar levels dipping dinner was needed and we repaired to a local Indian for a very pleasant curry. I was lucky enough to join Paul Lister (owner of the internet retailer Board Game Guru), Tim Cockitt (of the games manufacturer TreeFrog) and Stuart Dagger (game player of over 30 years and editor for the much respected board game journal Counter) however I am not sure they felt quite so lucky! As they were assailed by what they might have felt was a barrage of questions and theorems about games and gaming. However for myself I couldn’t have met three more delightful people who were kind enough to share their significant experience.
3rd Game - Patrician(Patrizier)
And so to bed + an interesting article
With the game done it was time to take a look round the rooms at all the other games being played and although it was now approaching midnight there was probably at least 60 people still deeply engrossed in a variety of games. The one that looked the most interesting to me was Antike, based around either the worlds of the Macedonians or Romans it seemed to me (superficially) to be comparable to Civilization. Many of my long term friends will smile at this as for many years my game of choice would have been Civilization! They for their part worked hard over a 20-30 year period to avoid this - successfully I might add.
And so to bed, or so I hoped, however with paper thin walls and a group of gamers next door this did not immediately mean sleep so I resorted to reading the program as an alternative. A very interesting article on encouraging more people to play games reminded me of my brother in laws comment that if he was to mention playing games to his friends they would see it as a geeky activity; the article started with a not dissimilar comment made to the author. Why though is this the case in the UK, when in mainland Europe and Germany in particular, it is so obviously not? The article quoted figures from NPD Group for the first half of 2009 that showed the games industry as being worth just 5% of the toy market in the UK, but 13% in Germany. It underlined the magnitude of difference further by listing the number of visitors to the German games expo as 200,000, the French one as 20,000 and the UK one as just 2,000!
And so to sleep.
Details of Day 2 can be read here