So… this happened.
Yup, at this past weekend’s UK Games Expo, Untold: Adventures Await was declared Best Family Game - both the Jury Prize *and* the People’s Choice awards! We’re delighted and grateful that so many people took time out at the show to vote for us, and our Untold demo table was pretty much solid all weekend. We even sold out of the copies we brought - next time, we should probably bring more…
Anyway, this is Michael, and here’s a round-up of our adventures at the 2018 UK Games Expo. This year’s show was bigger than ever, with the event expanding from Hall 1, also taking over Hall 2 of the NEC in Birmingham for the first time (as well as events happening over at the Hilton hotel as usual). The final attendance numbers look to be up around 30% from last year, with over 21,000 unique attendees over the course of the three days, which shows that gaming’s popularity is still definitely on the rise. Just as it should be!
Our show began last Thursday with a VERY early flight over from Belfast - myself, Rory and Pedro were the team for this one - and we were straight into things with the Retailer Summit. This pre-Expo event was for publishers and retailers only, and gives us the opportunity to show our games off to the folks who run the stores across the UK. Most are aware of Rory’s Story Cubes, so that gives us a bit of an in-road on conversations, but thankfully many were already ordering Untold and Blank. There was also a lot of interest in Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr, which started to set our minds at ease - as this was the first official public outing for the game, we weren’t sure what the reception would be like.
Thankfully, that’d be something we wouldn’t have to worry about too much…
After a few hours of speaking to store owners and the good folks from Asmodee UK (the new name for Esdevium, the distributor who ran the Summit) we then reconvened in Hall 2 at our home for the next few days, space E2, to set up our booth. Pedro had already put out tables and sorted stock, so it was just a matter of hanging our immense banner on the back wall, popping up roller-banners for each of our games, and making things look a bit more presentable through judicious use of tablecloths. Pretty much everyone was still setting up at this point, even though it was getting late, so a few quick hellos (and a speedy interview with Ben from Five Games for Doomsday) were all that we could manage. Then it was checking in time at the hotel, food was eaten, and much needed sleep was had.
Doors were opening on Friday at 9.30am, so we had to get in earlier to ensure everything was ready to go. With demos being run for Untold, Blank and Holding On and only three of us there, we knew we were going to be busy… but we didn’t realise quite how busy that would be! Earlier in the week we had offered folks the chance to pre-book demos of Holding On and Untold, so we were a bit surprised to see the rest of our available slots for the entire weekend taken within a matter of minutes… I was tasked with running Holding On, and over the weekend I ended up running nearly 40 separate games, each one feeling different as the various players approached looking after Billy in different ways.
Some teams were successful in beating the first Scenario Objective, some were less so, but one thing that struck me time and again is how engrossed players were. Whether it was the secrets they were learning about Billy, or managing the day-to-day runnings of the hospital ward, there seems to be something for a he range of players - and considering how much work we’ve put into the game over the last year, this is a delightful discovery. Also delightful was seeing so many more people come up to watch, and even more looking to play themselves - so much so that we decided to open a second table on Saturday and Sunday mornings for sign-ups on the day, all of which were gone within moments of the doors opening each morning.
Whether it was established reviewers or folks who were new to gaming, the reaction to Holding On was overwhelmingly positive all weekend, which hopefully means we’ve got something good here! It also means we have to rethink our plans for Origins, but it’s always good to be in demand! Being so busy, we didn’t get much of a chance to explore the rest of the show that much, aside from Rory going off to receive the Best Family Game awards on the Sunday afternoon, but we could definitely tell that it was the busiest the show has ever been (as backed up by the attendance figures released on Monday). All our tables were full, we were rushed off our feet, and we’re exhausted… but we couldn’t feel better. We heard countless incredible stories thanks to our Untold players, saw a whole load of cool new cards for Blank, and had our minds set at ease (just a little) thanks to the fantastic folks who tried to save Billy Kerr.
One of the best events we’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of. Thank you all for coming. Now… let’s get set for Origins!