So I finally made it to Dragonmeet, its taken me a few years but this time I did it. My planning fu was weak so I’d not decided to go till quite late on so I was staying four miles from Kensington and eight from the centre of London. This did mean I got to see a bit of the tube system and city I’d not seen before but I think next year I’ll try to organise myself a bit earlier. I’d been to Kensington Town Hall for Salute, when it used to be there, so knew it was pretty straightforward to fall out of Kensington High Street tube station.
Now onto the show itself, I hope it won’t sound like I’m complaining too much and that its more constructive criticism. I really did enjoy the show and I know from running a few events in the past just how much effort it is….
I got there pretty much exactly at 10AM and joined the back of the line. I didn’t have to wait long as they called for advanced tickets to come forward.
It would have been nice to have known what was happening from the shows website a bit sooner – if I’d known what seminars were going to be on a bit in advance I might have put myself down to run something or arranged to meet up with people in gaps. Maybe next year?
The convention pack was functional with the Programme and a supplementary game schedule. Both did the job. There was also a rather heavy book on stage magic – I hate to gripe about a free gift but I can’t really see its relevance. I didn’t have a chance to find an alternate home for it before leaving (I didn’t want to just abandon it with the Gideon bible in my hotel room). I hope a lot of cost /effort didn’t go into sourcing the books because if it did it was a wasted on me. I’d much rather have an old game supplement, custom dice, figure or discount voucher for the trade hall.
Anyway less of the grumbling and onto the morning session. Since this was my first trip I didn’t sign up for any games. I wanted to have a proper chance to look at the show. The trade room seemed busy enough in the morning. There was a good mix of traders and probably enough given the number of punters – a couple of general traders, several larger publishers, several smaller ones, a crowd of artists, a dice seller and a jewelery trader. The Bring and Buy had a prime spot up on the stage. I may have been spoilt by wargames shows but the bring and buy seemed rather short of stock. The hall wasn’t too crowded or too quiet – it reminded me of a good year at Bifrost rather than the three deep scrums I’ve seen at Salute or GenCon. You could have a chat with a trader or get Robin D Law to sign Skulduggery without feeling like you were getting in the way of someone wanting to spend cash.
After circling the stalls a few times and bumping into some friends on the way I took a turn by the games room in the basement. It looked pretty busy with all the games looking like they were full to the point of just being manageable. I always think it’s a good sign at a con if the games are busy. I wasn’t really tempted by any of the morning seminars so I wandered around a bit and lurked in the basement listening to games in progress. That may sound a bit odd but I started playing role-playing games by watching games being played and I’ve always thought you can learn a lot about a game by seeing it played.
After lunch I had a feeling that the numbers at the show had thinned out a bit – not a surprise as you often get a rush at the start of a show who are just coming for the traders. I went to two of the seminars in the Green Room under the stage. Now if you don’t know what a Green Room is or don’t know where the stairs to under the stage are this could be a rather lost location. Fortunately I’d been down there at Salute many years ago and having been involved in shows I know where to look for a Green Room.
Now here’s a tip if you’re putting on a seminar at a convention – pick a theme that’s broader than “my game companies plans for the future” that will get you you’re hard-core fans and a few who are interested in the business. The two seminars that lured me to the Green Room were Investigative Gaming, featuring Gumshoe and Pelgrane Press and Ian Livingstone: A Retrospective. Both of those managed to fill the room and both got to tell us a bit about what they have coming up. Of course that’s probably more important for Pelgrane than Ian Livingstone 🙂
The two talks were quite different. I’ll write my notes up from Pelgrane’s talk about Investigative Gaming and post them tomorrow. They announced they are starting a fiction impring Stone Skin Press and gave us some background on that. I picked up some good ideas in that session. Ian Livingstone’s talk about the foundation and growth of Games Workshop and his work in computer games was fascinating.
Based on the numbers in both sessions I’d say the seminars are the one part of Dragonmeet that has outgrown the space it has available. Perhaps it was that I was at the end of a row and in danger of being pushed off my chair by other people trying to squeeze in. It could really do with a slightly larger, more accessible location, preferably where the video projector can be set up to project in the direction the audience are facing!
After back to back seminars I needed a drink and then wandered around for a bit till friends finished up their games. The raffle was called and I didn’t win 🙁
The charity auction was going on but we had to head out to get people back to snowed in parts of the country and trains. So I’m not sure how much they raised. Then managed to spend a couple of hours having a quiet drink with old friends before hiking back to my hotel.
£7 wasn’t an unreasonable price to pay. There were a good mix of traders, games and seminars. Ian Livingstone’s seminar was a special treat. Thanks to all those involved in organising and running it. I really enjoyed my day and hope I can make it again next year.
Symatt’s posted his Dragonmeet show report too.