It’s been a week since the UK Games Expo and we are almost back to normal. We just need to decide where to store our giant LED Juniper Games sign and a giant whiteboard. The UK Games Expo is the 3rd largest tabletop gaming convention in the world (behind Essen and Gen Con). This year there were 21,700 visitors – well surpassing the 16,000 for 2017! We have been as visitors several times but this year we were one of the 375 exhibitors and it was definitely a different experience. We were showcasing 2 of our board games ‘Defenders of Dragonfell’ by Ben and ‘Orbit’ by Oli. While the games aren’t available to buy yet, our main focus was Playtesting, to get people’s opinions on the games. If we are going to all of the effort of sorting out a kickstarter, we want it to successfully fund, and we want to be able to fulfill pledges with high quality, great value, quickly delivered games. We had really positive feedback and lots of people were asking about if/when they could buy the game… guess that means we are going to be busy getting it to kickstarter!
The show was held over 3 days from 1st-3rd June 2018, with an extra day for setup. Here’s a bit of a run down of what we got up to:
Thursday 31st May was set up day. Exhibitors were allowed into the NEC Halls 1 & 2 from noon, once the major work and shell schemes were up. Promptly at 12 we arrive to find our stand looks square (it’s supposed to be 3x2m) and our shell scheme isn’t in place -Argh! So we find a man, looking important with a clipboard and earpiece to sort out the size of the stand and call the shell scheme company who get everything sorted. It took Ben and Oli little longer than the estimated 2 hours to setup the stand – it was closer to 7 hours but we have learnt what works and doesn’t, so next year hopefully it will be closer to the 2 hour mark. Other than going in to take a few pictures I didn’t get to do any of the set up – no under 16’s allowed, so I was in the hotel looking after Baby James. It turns out our giant wall mounted versions of the games, take a lot longer to assemble than expected! [more on these in another blog!].
Friday was the first day of the show! We had lots of interest in the stand and people came up to us saying they had heard about the stand with the wall mounted large versions of games! While Ben and Oli manned the stand, with Tash, James and Tabatha subbing in at times. Baby James and I explored Hall 2 and talked to the stands around ours, which is where the starter stands were. It was interesting to see all the games currently on kick-starter and see how different companies set up their stands. I also spoke to some of the artists as we are looking for a graphic designer for our games.
Saturday I walked around Hall 1, speaking to manufacturers and getting samples so we can decide who to use when producing our games. I was also trying to decide which board games to buy. We, like many, are guilty of owning several board games that we haven’t ever played, so I decided if I was going to buy something it had to be special. In the end I bought Flicky Spaceships, as we went to uni with one of the designers, Sam Mercer (it’s small world!). We also had the first visitors we already knew come to see us!
Sunday was the last day of the show. We decided to see if we would get more or less interest in Defenders of Dragonfell if it was set up on a table. Verdict… people stayed for longer to play the game (the lure of a chair?!?) but it was harder for people to simply take a peek at it as they were walking past the stand. Everything came to a close at 4pm, and it only took about 30 minutes to dismantle everything before we headed home.
So what have we learnt…