GameCamp 9th October 2010 - Overview

GameCamp - Lots of games
An early start (but not as early as some who got up at 4am!) saw me wandering down Richmond High Street just after 8:30. Not a very busy place at that hour so perhaps no great surprise that I spotted some fellow gamers, like myself, trying to work out where how to find GameCamp. The guys I had the good fortune to hook up with where Neil Mayer of thru-the-portal and Mark Rivera the man behind the Boardgames in Blighty blog and so a very interesting hour was spent disusing the future of social game playing in the UK. Interestingly Mark is also using games within his church community to help bring people together.

After coffee and breakfast the GameCamp broke out into its respective streams, the un-conference, the GameHack and playing games.

GameCamp - People gathering around the pizza's
The GameHack was sponsored by Cadbury’s and offered the opportunity to design a
brand new game in a day, with the hope that the winning entry would be put on the back of their Christmas Quality Street Selection box for 2012. With an estimated level of sales of 9m this alone ensured a big interest amongst many budding games designers (although this didn't include me).

However this competition is only part of the Cadbury’s larger Spots v’s Stripes campaign (this Youtube link explains little or nothing about the campaign but for amusement value is worth a look) being run in the build up to the 2012 London Olympic’s; to get the whole whole country playing more games.

It’s a great idea, however with 7 out of 10 families saying they don’t have time to play together (despite having time for hours of TV, video games etc) and 87% of us admitting to only ever playing games at Christmas, not surprising when so few people know of the wealth of excellent options available, they have an uphill challenge; but a challenge that we should all get behind and support.

GameCamp - People playing games and more pizza's
Whilst there were a number of sessions in the un-conference the one that interested me most was led by Mark on how bloggers and podcasters could work together to raise the awareness in the UK of modern board and card games. The key suggestions that flowed from this session can be found here on his blog.

The other stream was obviously the game playing option and as you might expect there were people playing all sorts of games in every corner of both rooms with everything ranging from HeroQuest, this took me back over 20 years to playing with my then little nephew aged 10 (he is now 6’4” and plays rugby for the RAF) to Pit (I observed two games of this, one was noisy mayhem as you would expect but then the second was played silently with 8 players –unusual and interesting to watch) through to Dixit this years winner of the Spiel des Jahres award.

GameCamp - Everybody eating pizza's
GameCamp is an exciting concept, generously supported by many sponsors including eBay, Cadbury and Esdevium Games that allows this hobby to be explored from a number of angles.

My early experiences of playing modern board and card games continue to be repeated, in that everybody I have met has been warm, welcoming and friendly and the sheer variety of games is mind boggling.

Playing games is a great way to meet new people and have fun – and again I ask why don’t more people know about it / do it!

Postscript - More photos from the day can be seen here

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