The flowers are blooming, the sun is showing its bright face more frequently and the temperatures are slowly increasing again. The smell of Spring is in the air, as well as the many gaming exhibits, expos and festivals, developer conferences and LAN parties taking place all around the globe. Below, I have created a detailed guide of some exciting, upcoming events that you might find worth your time looking into. You may even spot me at one of them!
During the Easter Bank Holiday in April this year, the NEC in Birmingham will once again open its doors to what is considered the
Glastonbury of Gaming - Insomnia, the largest LAN party in the UK and a gaming festival of sorts. Just like with any
other gaming festival, there will be many different exhibits, including the hottest AAA and indie titles, a retro zone, tabletop
gaming, cosplay, VR and tons of merchandise!
What started out back in 1999 as a simple LAN party has now exploded into one massive gaming event for all to enjoy, so much so that the organizers had to relocate Insomnia into the NEC to offer more room for the many thousands of people that currently attend.
The center of focus for this event is still its offering of competitive gaming, as the LAN hall is filled with people bringing their own PCs and consoles and hooking it all up locally to play against each other. Aside from that there are also massive esport and smaller tournaments going on, where you will no doubt see games like League of Legends, Hearthstone and Rocket League being battled out.
Ideally located in the Midlands for all to meet up at, Insomnia is going to once again be the ideal four-day outing for gamers and their families.
Next in line concerning the annual gaming mega-events is E3, also known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo. A
gaming trade show of extreme proportions, this is a massive get-together of game developers, publishers, hardware manufacturers,
retailers and the media, as the latest in AAA games, hardware and tech are announced for the first time. For three entire days,
roughly 70,000 people will gather at the Los Angeles Convention Centre and get to hear about thousands of new games and
products that will be flowing into the market.
Only just last year did this event become public to the consumers, and this year E3 will once again open its doors to the gaming community, selling a limited amount of passes so that gamers too can come along and marvel at the latest and greatest.
So, if you can afford yourself a ticket in, let alone a flight to LA, it will certainly be an experience and a half, and a great opportunity to meet with other like-minded individuals and perhaps celebrate at a roof-top party or two - LA style!
Fancy three days of networking with other game developers and indies? By the sea? What's not to like?! Starting Tuesday 09 July,
Brighton will once again be host to the Develop conference and expo, filled with over 2,000 attendees who all want to learn
from each other and share their knowledge. The conference will offer an abundance of talks and sessions, given by over 100 speakers,
covering a vast array of areas within game development, including design, art, programming, audio, business and of course indie. The
expo that runs alongside the conference will be showcasing the latest in games and tech, with a special Indie Showcase to
highlight the very best of the lot currently out there.
Guaranteed that after these three days, you will no doubt have soaked up enough knowledge, facts and 'how-to' to go out there and write your own book about game development. The wealth of information that you learn from the professional speakers and fellow game developers alike is incredible, and after a hard day's work you can even head out to the beach for a sundowner!
Sometimes coined the Woodstock of Gaming, QuakeCon is an event dedicated to all things id Software, hence
the name being taken from one of their most popular franchises. Now owned by Zenimax Media, the convention still continues to
deliver a gaming experince like no other and host the largest LAN party in North America!
This year is very special, as it marks the 25th anniversary of Doom, so all things related to the demon-blasting megahit will be available in the form of activities, events, panels, and much more, including more news on the upcoming and highly anticipated Doom Eternal. Hence, the 2019 edition of QuakeCon has been labelled 'Year of Doom'.
The usual Quake tournaments are on the cards as well, as they are every year, and Bethesda will have more to show and tell about their current and upcoming games, including Wolfenstein, Rage, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. This will certainly be an event not to miss this summer! With so much in-store, this is guaranteed to be four days of action-packed gaming heaven (or hell, if Doom is all you care about, like me).
There is a reason that Gamescom is tagged with the slogan The Heart of Gaming. Simply because the beating heart of
the games industry pumps furiously each and every year at this event, as hundreds of thousands of gaming fans, developers,
indies and others alike gather in the lively city of Cologne, Germany to witness what is said to be the largest games trade show
in the world. While this might be largely debatable, Gamescom is certainly a banger of an entertainment trade fair that
needs to be attended at least twice in your lifetime.
Blending in with the more developer-focused event Devcom, which seems to be the spiritual successor to what was once GDC Europe, Gamescom opens up its mighty mega-halls to the public, all filled with the latest games, massive stages, exciting shows, interesting talks and many, many exhibits. Gaming enthusiasts will queue for hours to play a few minutes of the hottest gaming titles, while others marvel at the diverse selection of classic games in the retro zone. There is also a cosplay village, an outdoor beach volleyball area and a jobs and careers section, where you can find out more about studying a subject in games development or even landing an internship of some kind.
Aside from the entertainment area, where most of the consumers hang out, there is also a smaller business area, where developers, publishers, media officials and many other games industry representatives meet up, network and discuss potential games before release. This is however restricted to industry-linked individuals and groups, so there is far less of a buzz here and more room to walk about and catch a breath!
And it doesn't end there, oh no! Aside from the pounding halls of the Koelnmesse, the city center itself also comes alive with music, shows and various acts to entertain everyone in the vicinity. So, if you happen to be in the area from the 20th of August this year, you are certainly in for a treat, as Devcom, Gamescom and the entire city of Cologne come alive to celebrate what we all love most - games!
Check out the video I made after visiting the 10th edition of Gamescom last year.
This event falls close to my heart as it's being held in the city I grew up in - Johannesburg. Furthermore, rAge is probably
not all that well known internationally, so I thought I would add it in here in order for it to receive some further exposure.
rAge, which stands for really Awesome gaming expo, is now in its 17th year and proves to continuously be South Africa's largest video game, technology and geek culture exhibition. Almost 40,000 gamers flock to the Ticketpro Dome annually to witness the latest games, gadgets and technology with over 130 exhibitors showcasing some amazing things.
Besides the ability to buy and play games, there will also be comic book artists to chat to, cosplayers to meet, esports to watch, and a home_coded area where local developers show off their latest games.
Parallel to all this buzz is the NAG LAN, a BYOC LAN party that attracts around 2,000 gamers who will play together, or against each other, non-stop for 52 hours!
This is possibly the UK's biggest gaming trade show and this year it returns home to London at the ExCel venue for a whopping
four days of activities in all areas of gaming. Formerly known as Eurogamer Expo, this event was born in London and attracts
over 70,000 gamers each year!
Expect the usual suspects, such as playable blockbuster and indie titles, tabletop and retro games and loads of VR. There will be tons of panels, sessions and talks where everyone can gain some insight into the world of game development. Different game creators from far and wide will be giving advice, answering questions and showing off some of their latest projects, all in aid of inspiring future developers.
The GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair is where most of the universities will be gathering and attracting potential students to come and study game development with them. This is also where post-graduates and other keen developers can network and get some assistance kickstarting their careers in the games industry.
To end off the Friday and Saturday nights, there will be some live music entertainment as well because there's nothing like partying it up after an extremely tough day out of playing COD and FIFA!