29 Sep 2016

EGX 2016: Messy, But Fun


I went to my first ever games convention last weekend. EGX; a trade fair for video games usually hosted in London, but was relocated to Birmingham starting from last year. Being the games enthusiast I am, as well as wanting to break into the press industry, I happily bought tickets months in advance and started to count down the days until I would attend the UK's biggest games convention. I'd wanted to attend this event in previous years, going all the way back to 2010, but school and university commitments had not made that possible.

I dragged my Dad along (he was a big gamer in his time, but has since become boring and doesn't play anything) and arrived at 11:00am on the dot. I didn't even consider for a moment how busy it would be. I witnessed the crowds entering the main area like a horde of zombies. It was chaotic, you might even say apocalyptic. It didn't take long for us to get moving though, and I soon found myself in the Rezzed section, which is primarily devoted to PC and Indie games.

I told myself I wanted to quickly look over the whole show floor before queuing up to play something. From the front, there were areas for upcoming Playstation titles, the new Destiny expansion, and a Bethesda area. Moving towards the back, I walked through a retro area, a few more VR games were being shown, and I accessed the "over 18s" area, which showcased games such as Battlefield 1, Gears of War 4, and Titanfall 2. I had no interest in queuing two hours for those games, so I returned to the previous areas. I happened to walk past the Yogscast booth, which was really nice because I'd been fans of these guys for about nine years, so it was cool to see them in the flesh (why does that sound so creepy?). I wish I'd lined up to speak to them but alas, I was on a busy schedule.

Photo credit: moi.
I grabbed lunch and then went to a talk by Travis and Torben of Hitman. That game has basically been my main thing for this summer, so I really wanted to attend the talk and learn more about the development process. Torben revealed that they didn't really understand the true potential of the episodic format until they released Episode 3: Marrakesh. Until then, it was just like releasing a full game and then some DLC afterwards, but by Marrakesh, they began to understand how they could take player feedback, as well as ideas from previous levels, to develop the next one. Travis also chimed in to say that Elusive Targets, Hitman's levels where you only get one chance, was where the game really shined. He said that Elusive Targets are the opportunity to become Agent 47. You only get one chance, and if you mess it up then you're done for. Torben and Travis both agreed that was the best thing for Hitman, and that you can truly feel like the world's deadliest assassin through these missions. You can view the whole talk on YouTube as it's very interesting if you're a fan of the game.

I then queued up to play Little Nightmares, a horror fantasy game where you play as a little girl that must traverse a nightmarish world populated by demonic monsters. The ten-minute demo had me solving a few puzzles, evading the monster resembling a butcher, and then finally journeying through a small crawlspace before something grabbed me in the darkness. It was a fun, short demo that I'd love to try more of. The game releases early next year.

Little Nightmares is out on PS4, Xbox One and PC next year.
Afterwards, I wandered around for a bit more. I think this is the point where anxiety took over. There was a lot to do at this event, and by not planning ahead, I ended up running in circles trying to see everything I wanted to. The queues bothered me; I felt that by queuing for something, I'd be missing out on something else. Had I been here for more than a day, I think it would have been much better. The crowds didn't help, either.

I ended up going to the careers fair and spoke to Grace Blaise from Total War for advice about going into press, marketing or community management roles. She was very friendly, and gave me lots of good advice that I ended up going to speak to other members of the industry that were working at the event. I probably bothered them too much, but I came away with a lot of enlightenment on how to break into the industry. I promised them I'd be one of their colleagues by the next EGX, so let's hope that happens.

My first games convention was fun, but it was really messy. I'd chalk it up the lack of preparation as well as only being able to go for one day. For now, I'm going to work on networking, writing more and earning enough that maybe next year I'll be able to go for a few days and get to meet more wonderful people.

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