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GenCon UK - Back Home

I got back home from GenCon UK in Reading just after 9pm this evening.

Last year I popped in on the Saturday, stayed for *maybe* two hours and left.

This year I arrived on Saturday afternoon about 6pm (which was later than planned due to very pleasent afternoon and company in Oxford re: Dave and Marysa's wedding) and left at almost 7pm on the Sunday. Considering I had planned (even on Saturday) to leave after lunch the next day this can be taken as either:

a) I was very busy
b) I really enjoyed the con
c) both of the above

This may surprise people that know my thoughts on previous GenCons but the answer was actually 'c' - both of the above. I had a really good time at this years show. Now part of that will very much be down to the people and the amount of meetings I had, but a large proporation will be down to the fact that it was a lot better than previous events. They had more people, the trade hall was busier (I didn't talk to a single trader that hadn't had a good show this year), the signage EXISTED (which was a major issue last year) and the show had a (gasp) BUZZ! Which is something that has been a bit lacking in previous years too.

I'm not going to say it was without issues, but those issues were a lot more minor than those from previous events and Horsemen do seem to have listened to much of the criticism previously aimed at them and improved things in many areas.

Highlights were many but some choice ones include:

Talking to lemuriapress  (Erik Mona, Paizo), mytholder  (Gareth Hanrahan, Mongoose) and others late into the night about the state of the industry, our predictions on what will happen in the next 2-5 years and how to best weather it and try and get new blood into the scene.

Bumping into a very old school friend, Simon English, whom I first met and RPG'd with when we were 13 years old and spending lots of time chatting and catching up.

Playtesting a new secret project card game which zencadet  is developing for another secret project which involves a prominent and well known artist, zencadet  and yours truly.

Finally getting my hands on a print copy of Pathfinder Beta! (it sold out before I could blink at GenCon Indy so I was very glad to have a second chance to grab a copy!)

Lots of great talks/meetings with a variety of people including Mel Chester (Pagan Angel) and Matthew Sprange (Mongoose Publishing) regarding a variety of topics.

Being told that rumours were 'abound' at the show that I was looking at taking over the GenCon UK license in two years time.

Having davywavy  come up to me very late on the Saturday night to tell me how he thought I *should* be running the show because Horsemen weren't professionals or businessmen - and then having me introduce to him the owner of Horsemen (whop run GenCon UK) whom I'd been talking to when Dave joined our conversation to give us his opinions on them :p (That was very amusing for me - but credit where credit is due Dave stuck by his words even after finding out who he was also talking to and Mark accepted the criticisms without getting upset).

Going for a good pub lunch with Mark and Sean from Horsemen to talk about the event, the events future and how to make it the show that the UK, the gamers and the industry deserves. I'll go on record by saying that I do think Horsemen have learnt a lot over the last few years and are certainly willing to take onboard comments, criticisms and ideas on how to make the show bigger and better - and I think they are heading in the right direction.

All in all I had a really great time at the show and part of me wishes I had been for the whole four days had I not had other engagements. Yes, I will admit that I am very surprised to be saying that. I'm looking forward to seeing what other feedback from the show I see and hear but I really do think this year was a marked improvement on last years event and I really do hope we see the show continue to move forward and improve.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
actualsean
Sep. 1st, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
The improvement at Gen Con UK is very good news, and I'm glad you were there to see it.

Having two of the most famous brand names in UK gaming (Gen Con UK and Dungeons and Dragons) under fire at the same time has not been good. Hopefuly the improvements will continue, and Gen Con bashing (which I have been a part of too), however justified some of it may have been, will become less frequent.

For me, those two brands are connected to the question of how to bring 'new blood' into gaming. I wonder what conclsions you came to about 'new blood' after your discussion?
newt
Sep. 1st, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
Colour me cynical
Gee, that's lovely and nice BUT

Which head are you wearing on this one?

Your 'Trader's' head or your 'Gamer's' head?
angusabranson
Sep. 1st, 2008 09:34 am (UTC)
Re: Colour me cynical
I'm not sure I was erally at the show with any head on in this instance. Neither of the companies I'm involved with were trading there although Cubicle 7 was running demo games over the four days (Doctor Who & Starblazer) which went very well.
The atmosphere was a lot better than previous years, less problems were obvious (that's not to say there weren't any - there were - but they weren't as major or obvious as last year), and all the traders I spoke to were happy with the show (which was something that was not the case 12 months ago when a number had grumbles) and all the majority of players I spoke to were having a great time.
The show can still improve (every show can still improve) but after the disillusioned feeling of last years GenCon UK this year was very refreshing and exciting.
newt
Sep. 1st, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
Re: Colour me cynical
The reason I asked in such a manner is that some of the GenCon's I've been to in the past, which have really sucked from a Gamer's perspective (which is the head I wear when viewing such things) but I've heard glowing reports from the traders. To the point I've questioned whether or not I was actually at the same convention.

I've come to the conclusion that I want very different things to what GenConUK offers. Continnum is right up my street as a result and Furnace (which I help run) is bang on the money - since its all about five slots of solid RPGing. Dragonmeet, the one time I went back in around 2005 (?), seemed to hit the right balance between gaming and traders.
davywavy
Sep. 1st, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)
Drinking + Antibiotics + not enough sleep = foot in mouth.

I apologise sincerely for any embarrassment caused.
angusabranson
Sep. 1st, 2008 09:36 am (UTC)
Lol. No embarassment was caused - certainly not to me in anycase. Hope you had fun and sorry we didn't get more of an opportunity to catch up.
davywavy
Sep. 1st, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)
I didn't really twig my goof until the next morning when I woke up and went "ahhh...crap".
If you fancy a pint, maybe next week or so when I've caught up, let me know.
angusabranson
Sep. 1st, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a fine plan. I haven't got my diary on me but I think I can be free most evenings next week (although I'd prefer to keep the Thursday free if possible).

Mail me when you have an idea of which night you might fancy :)

EDIT: Actually I might have an industry meet-up on the Tuesday night but I should know for certain by tomorrow about that one.

Edited at 2008-09-01 01:45 pm (UTC)
davywavy
Sep. 2nd, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)
Tuesday night is usually far the best evening for me.
mrmmarc
Sep. 1st, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
I am in awe of your greatness.

THAT is monumental!
:)
davywavy
Sep. 1st, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm not over worried about telling the truth to one of the HE team. My concern is any potential embarrassment to Angus, as I blundered up and, effectively said 'You're my besht mate an' you're ashe', which is always cringingly embarrassing.
mrmmarc
Sep. 1st, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
(nods)
SO ace!

Antibiotics and alcohol- such a WIN WIN combination!
(Deleted comment)
angusabranson
Sep. 1st, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
It's a vastly different scale than GenCon Indy - even when the UK convention was running at it's height it was pulling in maybe between 3,500-4,000 people. The one this year, according to official estinmates on the Sunday morning was probably about to break the 2,000 attendees mark (but the heavens did open up and drop half the Atlantic on the site on Sunday morning which may have out off some people from travelling to the con).
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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