Couldn't make Gamescom? Here are some UK alternatives
The UK is Europe's largest videogame market and the third largest in the world
There is still a preconception that those who enjoy playing games do so in darkened rooms with only cans of cola and a takeaway pizza for company. No matter how much money the gaming industry makes – some $75.5bn annually at the last count – such beliefs have proven difficult to shake off.
What to make of Gamescom this week then, in which more than 340,000 people have been attracted through its doors? Or the industry-only Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles which has grown to such levels of importance that it attracted 50,000 visitors earlier this year?
The idea of gamers in their bedrooms has foundation – in the 1980s many a child perched on their beds to play the latest 8-bit games on ZX Spectrums and Commodore 64s - but gaming today is a huge, mainstream industry.
Shows such as Gamescom and E3 offer new announcements, the chance to try out emerging technology and the opportunity to get up close with some of the industry's most respected developers. Visitors appear to thrive on them. And here in the UK there is ample opportunity to get involved with a growing number of gaming shows appearing each year.
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The UK is Europe's largest videogame market and the third largest in the world. It is worth an estimated £1bn for the country's GDP according to trade body TIGA so it is no wonder that gaming shows have sprung up on these shores to cater for them.
The biggest in the UK is EGX, formerly known as the Eurogamer Expo. Now in its seventh year, it will take place next month at Earls Court in London and organisers expect to attract around 70,000 visitors eager to meet developers, compete in tournaments, and discover more about new games and technology.
But it has its competitors. Play Expo which is in its fifth year is one of them. It takes place at EventCity in Manchester in October and it has been growing massively, expecting to attract some 25,000 visitors over each of its two days this year.
It signs up big names such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo but it is unafraid of showcasing small developers too: this year it has confirmed that 14 independent studios will reveal the fruits of their labour.
Added to that will be an enlarged retro gaming area packed with arcade cabinets, older computers and consoles. Another area area will be set aside for developer talks, including one by Broken Sword creator Charles Cecil. Numerous tournaments will be held and hundreds of people visit dresses as their favourite videogame characters. “We're keen to fly the flag for the north of England – it's great that we can offer such a large show that isn't in London,” says Play Expo co-founder Andy Brown.
Not that it is the only show outside of the capital. Later this month, Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe will be among those attending Insomnia, promoted as the UK's biggest gaming festival, taking place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It says to expect YouTube stars and gaming tournaments as well as a large exhibition hall packed with forthcoming games.
For a more laid-back approach to gaming, October sees the return of GameCity in Nottingham, based in venues across the city centre. GameCity provides a unique experience which looks as much at the culture of gaming as it does the games themselves.
Past events have included a late night concert in a church by videogame music composer James Hannigan and a live game of Pac-Man on the streets. It also announces the winner of the GameCity Prize – the gaming equivalent of the Man Booker Prize. Last year it was awarded to Spaceteam, a co-operative shouting game for up to four players by Sleeping Beast Games.
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