GameCamp 4 (14th May 2011)

A day focused on

“the designers, coders, artists, writers, thinkers and, above all, the players who are making the 21st century the century of the game. GameCamp is about more than making games: it’s about playing them, thinking about them and how they affect our lives for good or for ill.”

An image from GameCamp 4
With the days strong focus on digital games the un-conference breakout sessions where never going to be the focal point of the day for me, particularly with a shy and reticent nephew in tow. However there was a significant games library donated in part by Esdivium (for GameCamp 3 in the autumn of 2010) but also loaned by this years attendees. This I felt sure would provide an opportunity to meet new gamers (we went along knowing nobody) in all probability play some new games and inevitably discuss the world of modern board games and indeed so it proved.

The highlights for me where:

· Bumping into Steve who I had met at GameCamp 3 and who had mentioned a series of text based game in the style of the very early computer adventure games of my youth. Sadly I hadn’t made a note of the games or his contact details but felt that the game might well work well in schools and community groups, but could I find them on the web – NO!

The Parsley series of games (he had mentioned are by Momentomori) the first of which is Parsley #1: Action Castle. Now knowing the name of the game I found some interesting video’s and blog reviews that confirm my suspicion that I think they would work well with the Imagination Gaming client base.

· Meeting some great people, Jen, Ben, Howard and Hans being the names I can remember.

· Discussing how the people we met got into board games, their likes and dislikes and their experiences of the various events around the country. As a board game event Jen mentioned that ManorCon in July is well worth considering not to mention the imminent UKGamesExpo in early June, StabCon later in the summer and MidCon in the autumn.

An image from GameCamp 4
· The large games library, including many games I hadn’t played. Plus if you got in with like minded people, as we were lucky enough to do, yet more possibilities opened up as they had brought games but not placed them in the library for the day.

· Playing some interesting games most notably for me Small World (a game we don’t have in our collection, but gave to a nephew recently for his Birthday and which my wife has really enjoyed playing – I am not so sure about the game so it was interesting to play it with more experienced players although sadly my wife wasn’t with us) and Kingsburg, although time ran out on us for this game (see negatives below).

· The fact that each of these events is attracting more attendees than the last one. This one having over 225 people.

· Great lunch with pizza, salad and a lot of foccacia.

· An easy to get to location, at least for us!

· It was run by a group of enthusiastic and helpful people who dealt with a number of questions I had in the weeks running up to the event.

· Plus obviously the Lego Minifigures we all received as we entered and a new party game of Lemon jousting - two people battling it out, each with two wooden spoons and each spoon having a lemon on it. The winner being the last person with a lemon still on their spoon. Sadly no photos but I am sure you get the idea.

The negatives for me where:
· The truncated time for the event. The tickets stated 9am till 5pm but this became 9:30am till 4:30pm, an hour shorter than expected and we ran out of time on a game we were really enjoying.

· The venue for the autumn event in 2010 had been large airy and spacious, to me the venue for this event appeared to be no more than a series of classrooms and lacked a room large enough to comfortably accommodate the group when everybody came together at the beginning and end of the day – it became overcrowded and unpleasantly hot.

· Whilst I am normally a fan of the un-conference format, on this occasion I did not find any of the sessions of interest - probably for the reasons I have already stated and maybe given the nature of un-conference I should have sought to run a session myself.

· That even with the delayed start time there was no food available when we got there - unlike Gamecamp 3 which had some breakfast munchies included in the entrance fee.

On balance a good day, but for me at least not as good as GameCamp 3

This is perhaps a more negative and definitely less techie focused review of the day than a number of others which can be found either by visiting the main GameCamp web site or by searching twitter for #gc4.

More images from the day can be found here.
An image from GameCamp 4

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