Last weekend in particular the 12th October was a brilliantly geeky day. And when I say day..we literally bleed all that we could from the wound that was that saturday! I had to get up at 6.30am! on a saturday! I kept thinking this is why I do not want to be a milkman. to quote Robin Williams, ‘I was a vampire on a day pass’ That’s how weird my mind works but in a sense, I’m still impressed that I think like a dork at such an early time of day. (picture is with my mate Mark Percy who is hosting and will be on the podcast soon!)
I met my friend Drew at around 9 in Newcastle as luckily he was talking just as much as me about how excited he was to meet the guests and go to the con. Its a shame we never got the chance to record the talk where drew realised that the only Red Dwarf cast member he had not met was Chris Barrie, while the only one I hadn’t met was Craig Charles! we amused ourselves at how much of a geek we were being by saying it was a decades long quest we were completing! (we play Lords of Waterdeep together, and as I say we are geeks, deal with it! Don’t hit me!) So we head on the metro to the park hotel in Tynemouth and on the small walk from the station we spot a Bentley driving past us to which i say to Drew ‘you know, Chris Barrie drives a Bentley you know?’ to which drew spent the next five minutes repeatingly asking ‘Do you reckon that was really him?’. like I say we were excited!
(funniest image ever! the guy in the middle is like ‘Im not going to get between this!’)
The first thing we noticed when we got there was hot packed it was, which made me happy. Anyone reading this in America or London or any major city that has regular cons will be going ‘get over it Steven’ or simply shouting ‘NERD’ but you don’t understand. We never have conventions here and ScreenCon earlier in the year started this interest and now conventions are thinking of coming regularly. I never thought growing up that I would have the courage or even the opportunity to go to something like this! I did feel bad where I went straight to the front of a 200+ people line and went ‘I’m media I’m looking for Dan please?’ I would just like to underline I would of queued! These are my people! But we had interviews to be had and I was sooooo excited!
The first thing we did is take a look around and I have to say I think Screencon did a great job with the stalls and organisation. Plenty of things to have a look around! including some great film props that drew and I were worried we would break and go to jail for!
(Darth Vader signing Darth Vader!)
I am privileged to get the opportunity to talk to the some of the guests at the con. we managed to talk to Pam Rose (star wars,batman,superman) about george lucas, her role in star wars a new hope and working with David Tennant! Paul Gerrard (Battle LA,Wrath of the titans) about being a concept designer, how to promote yourself as an artist and exclusive talk about future projects Teenage mutant ninja turtles and Hellraiser. Ian Whyte (AVP,Harry Potter,Game of thrones, prometheus) talks to us about being the predator in AVP,Harry Potter,his career in basketball, working with Ridley Scott and upcoming projects Hercules with the rock and the bbc soap doctors! We then talk to Caroline munro (jamesbond, dracula) about the spy who loved me,british horror, horror studios recent comeback, and advice for young actresses! And if thats not all, we talk to Chris Barrie (red dwarf, tomb raider, brittas empire) about Red Dwarf Dimension Jump Convention, an exclusive response about the new series and All things red dwarf, with Chris doing a very special ending to the podcast!! now breathe!
you can find the podcast here www.geekapocalypse.com/shows or on itunes!
Heres some photos of me doing the interview with a special thanks to Drew for helping with the podcast and the event itself. After the event we went to Newcastle Gamers to play board games till three in the morning! So bit of a long day. Also I was still recovering from fractured ribs! Your welcome!
me and Chris Barrie, such an awesome guy!
Me and Paul gerrard who is doing a full podcst in future!
Me and former eagle! Ian Whyte! man he is tall!
‘my favourite photo, ‘we see you stormtrooper! Protect the princess!’
Me and the Beautiful Caroline Munro!
the lost interview but simon is on the podcast in two weeks! The next podcast we are releasing is with James cook about his sci fi project Cassini II which sounds amazing and is well worth a listen! We are also recording a video blog Tomorrow so please checkout our youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/geekapocalypse and subscribe!
I swear this is true that it pains me to say that I have never played D & D before. My excuse has to be based on the idea that at 25 years old that I just haven’t been exposed to the game. having sad that, in terms of actually roleplaying (and no unfortunately not THAT kind of roleplaying) I did play World of Warcraft roleplaying my character which I enjoyed for a few years. Looking back though, I think that’s all I liked, spending majority of my time helping organising a guild aka spending more time stressed than enjoying playing….hmmm where have I heard that before?
In terms of RPG specific games I recently broke that long awaited wait by playing Dragon Age RPG with a bunch of new friends I met by playing tabletop games with my board game club, which kind of shows why game clubs are great. After taking a while to get used to the process (I am a huge fan of dragon age so I was cool with that) the last session we did on tuesday I really enjoyed! I love the idea that our GM Andrew Barnettand any GM’s role is to create a story that captures the imagination and feeling that the players participating help create through their actions and decisions. Its so much fun using your imagination and it encourages you to get involved. Dont get me wrong, sometimes I have days like anyone where the last thing I want to do is play games with other people. I love the gaming industry and Im currently enjoying the pants of xcom, but what makes tabletop games so much more enjoyable is even if you have as bad dice rolls as I do, you still laugh and joke with the players around you! Even when you play these games online like we do, It is great, and in terms of being good for the soul, I always encourage people to open their minds and these games really do let you do that, minus the stress!
The great thing about tabletop games is that regardless of what your playing is just is important that your playing! As I said, without being part of a gaming club community I never would have got the opportunity to play my first ever RPG game. Regardless of the fact that my rogue cant seem to hit shit with his bow, and I’m not always participating, I really do enjoy the comradery and allowing people to express themselves. I’m so my experience has been so enjoyable!
Its funny, before writing this I was watching E3 videos in preparation for our Geek Apocalypse podcast tonight about E3 and I felt very sad. It suddenly dawned on me that the reason i felt this way because E3 really never feels like your part of it, especially if you watched the Microsoft conference, I’d be surprised if you felt like a gamer any more. That what I love about role-playing games, tabletop games, it carries the right attitude in that you have to make friends or you literally can’t play the game! So I actively encourage you to join us if you local in playing games, or find your nearest gameshop and have a go, or buy a game and invite your friends round! you really wont regret it! 🙂
if your interested I went to uk expo board game convention and did two podcasts there! I also did a podcast with the brilliant matt leacock last week who makes award winning games pandemic, forbidden island and roll through the ages! pretty awesome! you can find the podcast on itunes and www.geekapocalypse.com/shows !
We also do a board game review show on youtube! here is the latest episode!
So where was I? (always wanted to say that!) staying at jaszmines was fun and I really need to thank her for walking me back to the train station! those who read part one and the red dwarf blog will know that my sense of direction is somewhat….missing. even with a map I can get lost, thats how bad i am. Anyway,I had agreed the day before to interview Andrew Hackard at 10.30 and I just made it! as in, i was late, again classic Steven never seems to disappoint!
What needs to be known is, I was super excited to meet him and theres was a few reasons why! In regards to games, my first discovery of the wide variety of games was playing munchkin around 10 years ago! it was basically my infection vector into board games that now are a fun part of my life, because board games have created new friendships as well as maintained ones I’ve had for years. So I owe Steve Jackson Games a lot for that because They made a fantastic game that Andrew maintains to this day! Also, as we discussed in the podcast that andrew knows Wil Wheaton and has done for years and appeared on his board game show Tabletop which is awesome. So in a weird way, he is the catalyst to two things that influenced me to be involved in board games that I’m so happy I am a part of. Muchkin being the game that got me interested and tabletop for reinvigorating me to play games again. I played regularly at university and I owe tabletop for getting me re involved into board games after I left. I also owe wil for inpsiring me again to write by saying in an interview ‘no one told you you couldn’t and write what makes you laugh’ that made me realise I really wasn’t trying hard enough! if you haven’t seen tabletop heres the episode Andrew was in!
I then sat in the major publishers seminar which was awesome, Sitting listening to mark, Andrew etc talk to about the gaming industry. A funny thing happened that they nicknamed me the guy with the beautiful hair which could only happen at a gaming convention that I am regarded as cool. but i enjoyed it all the same! I asked them if other industries can learn from how helpful you guys are to each other, which Larry Roznai from mayfair games replied by saying ‘They would like to, but they wont’. Larry actually goes into detail about the board game industry and mayfairs position on the Geek Apocalypse podcast ,he was so unbelievably nice about it and gave me more than enough time to talk to him! which really was the case for everyone I met at uk expo! Seriously, no bribes involved they were super nice!
As i said in part one of this blog, It sucked that I didnt have enough time to play more games throughout the expo, as after the seminar I spent the time interviewing for my podcast (which ofcourse i love so I’m not complaining!). I got some unbelievably brilliant guests though, after Andrew Hackard i spoke to Chris birch who I had been to his kickstarter seminar and gave me so much advice in regards to setting one up and was such a nice guy! his act of cthulhu stuff sounds great and a highly recommend you check his stuff out! Him and Angus who knew each other were incredibly nice ot me so it was great that they let me talk to them and again, really friendly and approachable! I then got a chance to speak to Petr Mormak who makes one of Newcastle Gamers (my board game club) favourite games Galaxy Trucker, and being from czech republic it was really fun geting his perspective on loads of different subjects! what amuses me is that really this podcast became a battle of the accents have a geordie host, an american and czech on the show! but if that doesnt show the influence worldwide that games has then I don’t know what does! I then talked to the governor Mr Mayfair himself Larry Roznei who was a pleasure to talk to with his years of experience and being a ceo of such a huge gaming company!
I then finally got the chance to play a game, i got asked to play a large version of the game ticket to ride! which is an awesome game so it gave me the opportunity to relax and kind of sit and absorb the event for the first time! and I really enjoyed it! although as I said in part one I continued my role of the nearly man by coming in second. damn randoms! I highly recommend though that if they are any families wanting a game to play that something like ticket to ride would be awesome! but it was fun playing with giant pieces and was a good way to end the event for me, as I really wanted to see if I could absorb the event before I left and I finally felt i did that. Uk expo was just a brilliant experience and i would totally do it again next year if i got the chance to do it because, these are my people! 🙂
I have to end the blog on the best part of the convention for me, and I know he will hate this if he does see this as I said it to him at the time, but Andrew Hackard made the expo for me. It wasn’t that I was a fan and that I loved the game he was a part
of, but I had half an hour to wait before my train and he sat with me and talked to me about loads of different things and signed my Munchkin apocalypse box. And that was so awesome! he didn’t have to do any of it and he gave me far more than I ever expected so huge thanks to him for making my day! I then left the expo, went to catch my train and the only thing I could think of, is watching tabletop to help me pass the time!
So I got home at 12 midnight on Sunday around 40 hours after I left, my back was hurting, I had barely slept, I smelled of convention and I had a multitude of editing to do! so would I change any of it?
not a chance! :):) heres to next year!
you can find Geek Apocalypse podcast part 1 and now part 2 online at http://www.geekapocalypse.com/shows as well as itunes!
also I did an interview about Geek Apocalypse on our youtube channel, part one is online now:
I really do love board games so much. and no I don’t mean monopoly or anything like that, the inner industry, the amount of choice and diversity, its made me happy beyond measure every since I played Munchkin that was my infection vecture some 10 years ago! its a great way to meet people, to maintain and create friendships, and it would come as no surprise to hear I was so excited to go to uk expo 2013 this year! I was again doing my embarrassing nerd dance! (only my friend viv has been privileged to see it!) I will learn to control it at some point, but hey exciting times so i should get a pass right?
for those who don’t know about uk expo, it is a board game/RPG convention that is held every year in Birmingham England and for the first time this year at the NEC Hilton metropole which is awesome! I found out that the reason they upgraded was largely the superb support that The guys that run it got from Mayfair games and other sponsors of the event, which underlines how great the pioneers of this industry are. From the outset, everyone was professional, approachable and the scale of what they achieved was fantastic! Excluding the fantastic independant designers and gamers that attended, they had such great companies like Mayfair games, Steve Jackson games, Fantasy Flight, Czech games, AEG etc who make or publish in my opinion some of the best games around. But also what I loved and do love about conventions, is the opportunity it creates for self publishers or designers to showcase their game. I talked to on the podcast and just by walking around chatting some great independant guys telling me that they would go to this convention every year and this year they are coming with a publisher for their game. It really is brilliant to hear that ultimately if you want something to happen enough and have the idea it can be achieved.
Anyway back to the beginning! after getting a train at 6.30 am in order to get to Birmingham on time (that’s commitment!) I arrived early in new street which was good as the expo started at 9.00! p.s heres a video of me at the train station at 6 in the morning in Newcastle!
anyway I found as usual my sense of direction lacking…for starters i was in manchester! (just kidding) but I was lucky enough to bump into Adam who was going to uk expo on the train! thanks Adam for helping and thank you uk expo for making very cool tags so I can recognise them otherwise …i may never of found it! so once i got into the event, the scale of it just blew me away. You know in family guy when lois griffin has that episode where she spends the time just jaw droppingly excited at everything? well that was me. I spent the first hour just wandering around completely in awe of the amount of people and above all friendly people that were attending the expo. The one slight disadvantage when going as media is you have so much to do and the time just disappears! I barely had time during trade hours to play any games at all! But if you were just attending the event as a fan, especially if your as big of a geek as me, it was literally paradise city! like the guns and roses song but i didn’t want to be taken home! (no seriously I would of stayed). just so much choice, and with tables around to try and play test games it really is a great place to encourage people( especially families) to simply try games! because they really are awesome!
so I got to my reserved table and introduced myself to Chris Bowler, who has given me the opportunity to join the UK gaming media pod cast network which I’m excited about! Really nice guy, I actually did some presenting for them which will end up on youtube in the next few days so please do look out for it-shameless plug! 🙂 the first thing I did though at the expo is attend the seminar about kickstarter, which I was so pleased I managed to because I wanted to be able to get advice as i plan on using kickstarter for a web series we want to make! some great advice from some great game makers such as Angus Abranston and Chris Birch who both have had successes in that particular field so really good advisors! Angus has provisionally agreed to be on the podcast next week so please stay tuned on our site if you would like to hear more! or follow us on mr twitter land! @geek_apocalypse!
so after the trading area closed I went and found some friends and played a number of games,such as cloud nine and personally my favourite new game Augustus! I was considering not bringing this part up on the blog but i thought to myself, Why don’t I underline how much of a nearly man I am in terms of winning games! I came second in every single game I played during the event including day 2 which will get to tommorrow, but the damn dice rolls! we played death angel I think where its cooperative and I just had to not roll a one! and I did! twice! Really is harsh! but in seriousness, I had a great time! I really wanted to have more time to play games and in reality, as most of the guys I met throughout the weekend, its not about what games you paly and how you do, its simply that your playing it! but regardless of that, im still gutted 😛
so i ended the day by staying at jaszimes house that lived on the other edge of Birmingham! but this is the time where underline how stupid i am! (yes some will say i do that on many occasions) . The idea was that i got a train back to Birmingham new street and meet her at 11.30. what I didn’t realise was that the shopping centre that i went through during the day is attached to the arena and is then closed at a certain time…basically…before i thought. so it went from a simple 10 minute walk to having to go round the arena which is at least 5 times as long not taking a train! The genius that I am as well is I forgot to charge my phone so I couldn’t ring to explain the situation. so when occasionally get people saying to me I’m organised and clever, spend a decent amount of time with me, I’m far too easygoing that i never think too far ahead! i want to thank jaszmine for her patience and hospitality, she was brilliant and fun and it was nice chatting to her for all the brief time I had with her (which was my fault) you are welcome in Newcastle anytime!:) (picture is paper rock scissors bang by dave cousins! great game!)
the first day was great, as I said earlier my inquisitive brain sometimes really couldn’t handle the amount of games that was there, and if I could of spoken to everyone then I would have done! but I got to speak to Mark Wooten from AEG games, dave cousins from north and souths games, oliver sibthorpe the co creator of cube quest, lorraine finney from cognosis games, tom forfork from dog eared games on day one, and they were all fantastic! As I said earlier if I got the opportunity to talk to everyone I would have done but they were simply not enough time or indeed patience for that to be achieved! you can find part one of the podcast by the way online now at www.geekapocalypse.com/shows or on itunes! and part two will be online tommorrow!
next blog uk expo part 2! 🙂
Added with the celebration of this being the first ever Screen Con event, and being held on the magical “May the Fourth”, was further celebration in Free Comic Book Day – an opportunity for bookworms everywhere to receive some free samples of comics and artwork from their favourite franchises.
As we queued for Travelling Man on Newcastle’s Grainger Street, it was obvious that we were actually a little late; despite the fact it was almost an hour before the shop was due to open! The line, which stretched down the road, contained an array of characters – some in costume and some without – who had come from all walks of life to obtain something free and something Geek for their creature comforts.
Slowly, the line began to move, and we were ushered into one of Newcastle’s premiere locations for comic book shopping – a sale quickly escalating this normally pleasant pastime to fever stations – and dotted throughout the store several piles of comics from which we were encouraged to, help ourselves. Some of the titles available on this year’s FCBD were Bongo’s Simpsons, Dark Horse’s Star Wars, IDW’s Judge Dredd and NEC’s The Tick – the Blue paragon of virtue and justice. If you missed any of the action available (like I did with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) you’ll be pleased to know there are previews available online at the official FCBD website.
Next, the party moved up the street to Forbidden Planet, where a slightly less prepared store randomly handed out a bag containing four comics to everyone who queued. When we got in the store, there were no comics to be seen, and further requests for additional bags were ignored. In comparison, through Travelling Man’s method, I was able to obtain 35 comics from the collection – thus the only reason I missed out was because Forbidden Planet failed to adopt a similar structure. Alas, they also failed to provide a sale, a missed opportunity to capitalise on the extra footfall created by the day’s festivities.
With the comics safely in my bag, I headed to Screen Con, an event I’d be hearing so much about over the past few months. So unusual was it to hold a Sci Fi event of this kind in the North East that many people still talk about the comic book store in Whitley Bay – which closed sometime around when Metallica played at the Ice Rink. Guests at the convention, asides from stall holders, included such personalities as Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Sylvester McCoy (Dr Who, The Hobbit) and Alan Harris (Bossk) and there were several talks and events organised throughout the entire day.
Cosplay was a big influence in the event too, as many people came dressed as their favourite characters, from video games like Tomb Raider and Metal Gear too superheroes like Batman and The Incredible Hulk. One of the most positive things about the entire event was seeing people dressed in such ridiculous but well-made fancy dress, even if virtually every child present was the Eleventh Doctor, and nobody could tell you who William Hartwell or Patrick Troughton was! Stalls were packed with the latest merchandise, and although well stocked, they did seem a little more favourable towards the Star Wars and Doctor Who influences present, their prices doing little to compensate ticket holders for the price of their GA – at £10 – which sadly didn’t include the obligatory, and often much prized, compensatory autograph from one guest.
I can’t think how many career moves can be forged from simply stating you were one of the actors present as Darth Vader choked Admiral Motti to death in the boardroom – the actor who played Motti himself died last month, aged 66. As most attendee’s had their favourites to see, it was of little consequence that the less famous celebrities were left sitting around, watching as the queues even past their own table and people struggled to have Boba Fett sign their limited, mint condition, 1982 replica action figure* (Ed Note: A Boba Fett Back C 1982, Mint on Card, can retail for up to $500)
For an initial event the attendance was the most promising thing and the fact that people are willing and able to turn up in such spirits should be something very promising for both future events like this and also encouraging more Geek and Gamer orientated clubs/evenings in social settings, though Grainger Games ludicrously large Hummer outside the main entrance made for an eyesore if nothing else, provided they offered little to the event except to remind people they exist – and in doing so, gave people the perfect opportunity to remember where to buy their next Star Wars game!
As Screen Con prepare for their next instalment (October 2013, FYI) there is much excitement about the possibilities of what an establishment event like this can do in the North East. Certainly holding it outside of convention time and giving people the chance to come to an original function is a brilliant idea – even if the admission price was slightly steeper than expected – and the additional autograph prices left a sour taste.
next blog red dwarf part 2!