The annual sci-fi and fantasy convention based in the heart of Bristol, BristolCon is a great time out for all fans of literature and art. Whether you’re a fan of large or small authors, or if you want new sci-fi and fantasy inspired art pieces to display around your humble abode, this is the event for you. BristolCon, coming on October 28th, is a fun-filled one day event with interesting panels, local authors and artists and much more. If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy geek, then read on for more as you will want to check this out!
Being a horror fanatic, you have to work pretty hard to shock me with horror films these days. I have seen it all, and I have a preference towards stories that play with psychological boundaries. I am actively looking for those roller coaster moments where you know that something is going to happen, but you just don’t know when. Anticipation is the key; I don’t want a lot of it, but if you can make me feel it once, then the film maker has achieved something. So how did the 2017 version of Stephen King’s IT turn out?
Increasingly our Shrewsbury Meets are earning their 18+ requirement, and less for the venue’s legal limitations and more about what happens when our regulars get into a Bucket of Doom. It’s been another month of madcap hilarity, new faces, old faces, new games and a failed attempt at playing NYET! and after a busy month, a bustling Kitacon, and all the extra work that came with it, I was glad of GeekOut this Thursday. It was another great turn out, another great competition, and some new ideas for the future.
Let’s get into this, shall we? Here are the pictures from GeekOut Shrewsbury #6.
Sadly no time to take a proper poll for the pre-meet as the latter half of August was rather consumed by work, but as a snap decision the Boiler House coffee shop turned out rather nicely indeed. A handful of us gathered for a couple of games of Magic which proved my new deck to have… inconsistent effectiveness, and Murray’s premade decks to require little work to become fully operational killing machines. Ben brought some short lived cakes and joined us for a free-for all and a coffee, and we had a visit from Anni of Space Station Centaur who joyously sat with us and chatted sci-fi while we played.
We highly advocate for joining a role-play as big as the ongoing Star Trek online groups like Centaur and Outpost Eden, and any and all of their memebers are very welcome to join us too. That’s not an advertising pitch, I just think it’d be cool to hang out.
Anyway, we moved on to Monty’s to find extra space reserved for us despite the fact that I only asked for it after 18:00, but as it transpired it was probably better they laid out the signs, as people started to join us sooner than expected. We dug into a well timed game or three of Resistance before Anni had to leave, because how better to meet new people than to spend an hour accusing them of deceit and treachery?
A few games before the Bigger Geekier Pub Quiz:
Tsuro and food became the order of the day as more and more people filtered in and began to splinter off into new groups and play other games. Thanks to Harley for bringing in Escape, I heard a lot of people enjoying themselves from the other side of the room. We wrapped up one of the more hilarious games of Bucket of Doom before people divided into teams for the quiz: challenging but not quite so daunting, as reflected in the better scores, and it seems like you all enjoyed the new picture round. Expect yet more from the October Quiz, in the mean time I’ll ponder a competition for September for you to duke it out over in hopes of a disappointing prize. This month’s disappointing prize was:
The beatific winners were kind enough to share out the spoils, but never forget that they had all the power!
Next month is term-time, so a lot of our regulars may struggle to join us, but we can help them get their geeky fix for the rest of the month. Though Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be the foundation of Shrewsbury’s geek-calendar, we need to find those groups that operate at the weekends and the rest of the week. This is a call to action and if you know of any groups for gamers, geeks and nerds anywhere in the Shropshire area we have some very keen members who want to know. And hey, while you’re on the job, maybe tell them about us!
Dammit Kitacon, you’ve destroyed me again. I got back a few hours ago, washed away a few days of hard work and high energy, and collapsed in my chair from whence I have not moved and will be going no further than my own bed – the one in Jack Martin wasn’t bad but the pillows tried to kill me.
There’s a lot of work to be done now that I’m back, but we’ll get to that later. For now I have time enough to briefly discuss the activities of the long weekend at Warwick Arts Centre. (more…)
This coming Kitacon I will be arriving a day early to socialise, get some work done, and to get some gaming in before the convention comes in and cruelly steps on my chances to play, there are still some Magic rematches I owe but I never seem to get the chance because of panels and the like. Damn you Kitacon, getting in the way of me enjoying a perfectly good convention!
Anyway, first item on my docket is a one-shot role play in a system I’ve never run before. It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new, get experimental with something other than Dungeons & Dragons. I chose Pokethulhu because it combines my greatest strength – horror – with an important component of any one-shot where no one is planning on getting emotionally invested with their characters – completely stupid comedy. (more…)
We are officially into the third season of the anomalous Adult Swim property, The Adventures of Rick and Morty. The amount of hype is near-palpable, and the series has undergone huge changes in a very short space of time, from the dramatic conclusion of Season 2 where the Galactic Federation had “incorporated” earth… to the destruction of the Federation, the Council of Ricks, and Beth and Jerry’s marriage. So why does the series keep getting bigger, and where does it go from here? (more…)
Cometh the hour, cometh the Spider-Man, right back into the middle of the MCU where he belongs. No backstory, no spider bite – because it has been done – just straight into the life of a teenager irrevocably altered by comicbook logic. Instead we jump in with the Peter Parker straight after the fight in Civil War, hero-worshipping Tony Stark, fully kitted out and ready to get into a fight with someone a little more daunting than the odd bike thief or shoplifter.
After all of the backbiting and corporate petulance between Disney and Sony, it is so good to have Spidey amongst the ranks of the Avengers because without him it all has all seemed a little weird, but here we have a Spider-Man born of the Cinematic Universe, only a child during the New York Incident, and fully immersed in the unique-to-film narratives, lore and history. (more…)
Behold the rising star of the Shrewsbury geek scene! And behold you, the beautiful people who make it a reality!
June marks the last of the four month trial period agreed with both the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse and Montgomery’s Tower but it is fairly safe to say that the end of the trial does not mean the end of GeekOut West Midlands. To mark the last of the introductory Meets I held the Big Geek Pub Quiz, an unapologetically brutal test of strange and esoteric geeky lore from literature, games, comics, television, films, anime and manga, and a miscellaneous section of the kind of weird things you get to know when you’re just this nerdy.
Without further ado, a gallery of this month’s highlights, but stay tuned to the end, there will be another quiz!
At last I have beaten Murray at a game of Star Realms! Not that I’m dwelling on it at all.
I arrived overburdened with the usual variety of games made slightly damp by the inclement weather to find Murray reading his way through Scott Pilgrim.
Coffee, cake, dice and cards. It’s what you might define as business as normal but the looks on the faces of those who came and sat with us still looked a little confused. A quick round or two of Star Realms with Murray and we broke out the Magic decks moments before more faces started to appear. Fluxx and Great Scott before a round or two of Tsuro (#Tsuro), and finally a quick game of Bucket of Doom which shall not be spoken of here or ever again! Some things are better left unspoken.
Monty’s Tower – The Big Geek Pub Quiz
Returning to our corner in Monty’s Tower, and a hearty meal (and less than hearty pudding) to fuel the evening of gaming. We welcomed new members, dragged them into a few games – including more Tsuro, great game to introduce new people – and then at 8:00 we divided for the Big Geek Pub Quiz. Perhaps a slight rephrase as the quiz itself proved rather short, all over and done with in an hour once the tie had been broken; but by the standards set by my questions, one would have to have been a Big Geek to get even half of it right. Kudos to you all, there were only one or two questions that nobody answered correctly.
With a winning score of 9/24, The Humans drew level with Team:
Team :) Fortress 2 forcing me into an unexpected tie-breaker situation! Congratulations to Ben, Matt, and Murray of Team: Fortress 2 for winning the disappointing prize which was made even more disappointing because I forgot to bring it. Enjoy your replacement non-disappointing vouchers.
As the trail period has come to a close there will be a few shifts in format as yet to be fully confirmed, but plans are afoot. Stay tuned to Facebook and MeetUp for more information on the next GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet on the 27th of July. Before you go, a couple of quick questions to you lovely geeky people:
If you have enjoyed it all so far, I look forward to seeing you soon. Remember that these Meets are made by geeks for geeks, and we want to know how to make it better for you. See you next month.
The infamous Steam Sale has come again, and amidst the veritable deluge of prices crashing to earth there are some serious bargains. I can honestly say I’ve bought more in this sale than I have done in years, a few of those curiosity pieces reduced to pennies, blockbuster titles of yesteryear brought to all time lows. Financially speaking the going has been good this summer if you’ve got a nice full wishlist so you can monitor the good deals when they come.
Steam’s efforts to gamify their sales process and engage their users in the buying process may- at one time – have revolutionised the retail industry, but their recent efforts have been a little lacklustre, repetitive, and at times a little sloppily executed. So let’s talk about the latest attempt, the sticker collection.
Every 24 hours you get the usual chance to cycle through your discovery queue ignoring the popular games, watching the odd trailer that catches your eye, maybe racking up an item or two for the wishlist, and collecting trading cards for the regular badge that you’ll never quite complete. The queue also earns you stickers, as do two other “quests” that change every day that get you further and further involved in Steam’s various community features. You slowly build up a sticker collection that build up various scenes of game characters enjoying typical summer activities, barbecues in the park, going to the seaside, time out in the wilderness with friends, that sort of thing.
And yet I find myself thinking that this may be one of the least interesting and blandly transparent, and maybe that’s because I’ve seen too many. Sure there’s plenty of new users who’ve never taken part, maybe aren’t aware of all of the community features they’ve got going on, and they’ve added a few lately that they probably want to shout about a little, and rightly so, they’ve put in the backbone to take their once barely known selling platform for their singular line of games and created a monster of the industry that’s stripped PC games from the highstreet and have forced the consoles to give deep thought to their business model… but that’s a different article, I’ll stop now.
Turning your engagement in a product and into the sale into a game is the perfect approach for Steam, but it requires some feedback, some reward, and filling up a sticker book with some mostly boring stickers? Ok, seeing Geralt of Rivia flipping burgers is entertaining enough but most of those stickers are cups. One of the pages has mostly cacti, and to be honest a few of them just don’t fit the background.
And I find myself asking unpleasant questions like: “What exactly do Steam levels do for me?” and “Why am I so entertained by collecting the cards?” I’m not in this to chase numbers, I find I want more out of my experience, and practically any amount of return on investment would make me far more interested.
I’m well aware that the Steam sales are a deal that benefits everyone, we get cheap games, Steam makes money, and the creators make money (although… no, y’know what, that’s another article again), so I’m not saying that the sales are a bad idea, far from it. But they have a motif to pursue, and right now it feels like they’re just rolling out the same recycled picture show and haven’t even reached the bar on that either.
Chris covered some of the RPGs on show in his article last week but while he covered what was on the shop floor, I wandered the Hilton, who had mostly filled their rooms with tables equipped with DMs, GMs, Storytellers, and enough rulebooks, character sheets, dice and assorted other accoutrements to keep dozens – maybe hundreds – of people entertained all weekend. As someone who is obsessive over tabletop roleplaying it was amazing to see so many games going off at once, I mean just look at this:
Most of these photos may look like identical rooms, honestly it’s just the decor and layout. People were flooding into the sign up room, and I had to edge my way around the queue to get a photo inside.
Competitions and Tournaments
One of the NEC main halls was given over fully to competitions for the more popular games, on a national and international level. Wandering that hall I think I heard as much German, French and Polish cast around as English. There were games I expected, like the Magic tournament, the Pokemon tournament, I even fully expected to see people competing in the X-Wing miniatures skirmish game, but I wasn’t expecting to see Infinity or Dropzone.
I already talked about what these guys got up to, here’s a few images from the guys over at the Living History Camp, and the time they went to war against a pillaging horde of small children:
Yeah, the best part is just wondering around wherever we pleased (up to a point at least). This has only been my second occasion as a member of the press so I’m still never certain what I can and cannot get away with, but dammit if I’m getting all-access I’m going to work hard for it.
It was incredible wandering the hall before and after the horde joined us. The difference was simply astounding, the freedom to walk the floor reduced to swimming through a crowd; strange echoing silence turned to a cacophony of voiceless sound. These events are made by hard working people who put their livelihoods out on trestle tables to be judged, exhausted staff and volunteers fighting to keep every moment organised and controlled for the good of everyone involved, and by the people who keep coming back year after year to make it all worthwhile.
Here’s what we saw:
Pictures will be on Facebook soon enough, if you see yourself, tag yourself. In the mean time, so long UKGE, see you next year.