So as promised here are my top five from the UK Expo.....
5. Time just flies. No it really does! There was so much to see and do. I spent so much time trying to do everything I felt that I did nothing! The amount of people to interview and to meet that I felt unable to give many the attention they deserve. I think that video interviews are the best to do but I want to be a blog and support site first.
4. The Hotel still seemed ill-prepared. For the second year the Hilton seemed understaffed in the bar areas and overwhelmed in the restaurants. The seminar rooms were too hot and the waiting time for breakfast and just for a drink were ridiculous. Again they seemed surprised by the numbers and didn't try to correct it when the queues around the hotel threatened to get out of control!
3. Free play area. The amount of space for free play was great. There was plenty of tables though due to the numbers, even these were soon filled. The reason for this to be number three was that the main play area was so far from the bars and the food. Luckily the organisers had arranged a deal with the local pizza company which helped but the food court had a portable bar. Why could this not be placed at the free-play area?
2. The main Bar Area. So the free play area was away from the drinks. What did however seem petty was the ban on games being played in the main bar area. Even late at night when there were many free tables, the ban was enforced with an extremely heavy hand.
1. Bring and Buy Area. I felt really sorry for the organisers in this area. The room was way too small and was totally unable to cope with the numbers. The only real answer was to have a queuing system which meant limited numbers throughout the doors but discouraged people as the queue to buy stretched into the bar!
5. Podcasters and bloggers. The community continues to grow and I have to say that I for one and very grateful for that. The support given to each other and the work of Chris from UKGMN is a very worthy mention. Thanks to you all.
4. Cos-play. Every year the people in cos-play continues to grow. It is a real boon to the Expo and adds a lot to the actual people who visit. The amount of work involved and the quality of all who attend is truly inspired.
3. Events and organised play. Every year people give up their time to volunteer to run a wide range of events. From running RPGs to large scale tournaments, these are the heart of the Expo. Every year hordes of people try new games, systems or just try their skills at a game they love. National tournaments for games such as Settlers of Catan or play testing new designs for developers. The range and choice is truly staggering.
2. The organisers and yellow shirts. Should these be number one? They are the Expo. The work to organise and the dedication of all the volunteers are fantastic. Yes things could go better but these are people doing it part-time and in evenings. Truly everyone who attends are thankful to them for this event and I for one hope many more years.
1. The crowds grow. The numbers through the doors were again an excellent encouragement as to the health of our hobby. However I have worry for next year. Can the hotel cope next year? Can we ensure that we can give the hobby the room to expand? The Expo organisers have done an amazing job but theirs is a greater responsibility and if the work so far is anything to go by then I think they are up to the challenge.