So, I am no stranger to conventions. Ignoring 2020, I have generally attended MCM Comic Cons at least once per year. However for some reason I had never attended an EGX, a combination of not knowing enough about it and feeling like it wasn’t my sort of convention…
Boy was I wrong about that one.
From the second I stepped onto the main show floor, I could tell this was my kind of convention. Indie games were everywhere in the first section of the hall, with some titles I had never heard of but have now hit my radar, to other games I had an awareness of (Coffee Talk and KeyWe in particular) suddenly being things I could try out myself.
Further through the hall some more “mainstream” games, including a huge Fall Guys booth with its own miniature Fall Mountain, and a Baldur’s Gate booth with a sinister looking Mind Flayer hanging around outside.
The back of the hall ended up being where I spent most of my one day at EGX however. Between the Retro Gaming area featuring classic arcade games, pinball and some great multiplayer games (god bless Mario Kart), to the EGX live stage where I caught some fantastic live shows, and finally, my home away from home – the Asmodee tabletop gaming area. A full area filled with all kinds of tabletop fun from simple card games to chunky tactical games – absolutely my kind of area.
So after having attended, meeting a lot of new friends I found over the last year from streaming (shameless self plug of my Twitch channel), and possibly having the best weekend I have had in the last 18 months (due to the whole lockdown thing)… Why the hell had I not attended this sooner?
To be honest, I think on some level this was down to a misunderstanding of what exactly EGX would be like. In my head, it was a place that was huge on it’s AAA game stands, mainly for those series which are released year after year with little changes between versions… and to be honest, I don’t tend to play a huge amount of those games. FPS games aren’t something that interest me a ton, sports games bore me senseless, and I much prefer playing a game with a smaller fan base as I find that these developers take more time to make their game’s shine a lot more than some AAA studios do on launch (okay, I still play Avengers despite it needing work, but the comic book nerd in me is still happy enough launching people across maps with a mythical hammer).
Somehow, it escaped my notice that EGX is a huge supporter of the indie developers in the industry. The amount of indie titles at this year’s show honestly blew me away, and so many of the games I saw were things I had never heard of from studios I had no idea existed. This is normally what I love about gaming, finding that gem of a game that I never knew existed and feeling so at one with the gameplay, or story, or style of game that I can’t put it down until I beat it. Equally, I was unaware of the tabletop presence at the convention. Okay it was one corner tucked at the back of the hall, but honestly I would happily have spent my day there playing games with a mixture of stream friends and complete strangers and still had a whale of a time.
Additionally, and possibly adding to my enjoyment, in the last 18 months or so of lockdown, I’ve had to find new ways to keep my mental health in positive places, and one of those places has been YouTube communities. Top of the list on these has been the channels of Dicebreaker, Eurogamer, OutsideXbox and OutsideXtra. The live streams of these channels have helped me keep sane during the lockdowns, and allowed me to meet some wonderful people (some of who will hopefully read this blog. If you are here, yes I’m talking about you). This convention not only allowed me to see some of the hosts of these channels in person (sadly no meet and greets, but hopefully they are back next year) and watch them hosting shows and games, but also to meet up with some of the communities I had found myself joining. After having done a large number of conventions solo, doing one and meeting such a large group was brilliant, if somewhat overwhelming for someone who hasn’t used their people skills for over a year!
I will 100% be booking my tickets for next years EGX events the second that they become available, and hopefully it will be another fantastic time! Hope I might see some of you there!