From the endearing simplicity of 1972’s Pong to the complexity of Star Citizen’s multiplayer universe, video games have certainly come a long way. Not only has the technology improved but also the market’s size.
Thanks in part to the growth of mobile and a player base that keeps asking for bigger and more sophisticated titles, video game companies now offer more types of experiences than ever. From the competitive Call of Duty series to the every-day-life simulator The Sims, there’s bound to be a perfect title for anyone.
Unlike what your average Reddit user would have you believe, the video game industry no longer is a niche market reserved for a gaming elite. It has gone mainstream. Don’t believe me? Check out these numbers:
The industry is worth around $83.6 billion worldwide and it’s expected to reach $113 million in 2018. In the United Kingdom alone, we’re talking of about £4.2 billion. This turns the country into the sixth biggest market in the world, coming right after China, USA, Japan, South Korea and Germany.
But people do not only play video games here, they also produce them. Not many are aware that some of the best titles from recent years have been developed in the UK. Grand Theft Auto V — which is one of the most successful video games of all time — was co-produced by Rockstar North that’s located in Edinburgh and Batman: Arkham City, a game praised by both fans and critics, was co-developed by Rocksteady Studios which are based in London.
With such a booming sector, it only makes sense that events catering to its following are sprouting everywhere. Some of them are organised to showcase the latest advancements, others have educational purposes and some are just big geekfests where gamers get to share their passion for everything gaming.
Note: This post gets updated regularly so make sure to come back for new events and more dates.
– February –
GEEK – Meet Make Play
When: 16 – 18 February, 2018
Where: Margate, Kent
What’s the deal? GEEK is a festival that even though it features next-gen titles, is focused on retro gaming. The expo is known for showcasing a great variety of playable consoles, old and new.
The PC Gamer Weekender
When: 17 – 18 February, 2018
Where: Olympia, London
What’s the deal? An entire weekend dedicated to PC video games. Fancy playing Hearthstone with a few mates? How about Overwatch? Or Dawn of War III? Then this is the place for you. There will also be talks, workshops, and board games among other activities.
– March –
When: 8 March, 2018
Where: The Brewery, London
What’s the deal? Unlike other gaming awards, the MCV recognise all areas of the gaming industry including publishing, retail, distribution, marketing, PR, events and media. In their 16th year, they’re making changes to the voting process to make it even more transparent.
King of the North
When: 17-18 March, 2018
Where: MediaCityUK, University of Salford, Manchester
What’s the deal? King of the North is the UK’s largest student-run gaming gathering. The two-day occasion offers Overwatch, League of Legends, CS:GO tournaments on top of giveaways and other activities. The 3£ ticket also means that it is one of the cheapest events on the list.
– April –
London Games Festival
When: 5 – 17 April, 2018
Where: Several Venues Throughout London
What’s the deal? The London Games Festival is a series of events from talks going through financial advice to the British Academy Game Awards. It’s a 10-day celebration of everything gaming that’s got the ultimate goal of turning the British city into the gaming capital of the world.
When: 12 April, 2018
Where: Troxy, London
What’s the deal? Yes, it if the same BAFTA that organises the fancy movie awards show but this one is for games. Who knew? The crème de la crème of the video game industry gathers here every year to recognise the best of the season.
When: 13 – 15 April, 2018
Where: Tobacco Dock, London
What’s the deal? Self-described as London’s biggest gaming event, EGX Rezzed features talks with famous game designers, previews of upcoming PC and console titles and many other gaming related activities.
– May –
Animex – International Festival of Animation and Computer Games
When: 14 – 18 May, 2018
Where: Teesside University, Middlesbrough
What’s the deal? Animex is a mix of workshops, talks, presentations and other activities related to everything animation and computer games. An event for those who want to find out about the latest in the industry.
Norwich Gaming Festival
When: 28 May – 3 June, 2018
Where: The Forum, Norwich
What’s the deal? The Norwich Gaming Festival describes itself as a “free, family-friendly celebration of video games”. Here’s a chance to meet local developers and learn how video games are made while you have fun.
When: 29-31 May, 2018
Where: Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London
What’s the deal? Casual Connect brings together every year over 100 gaming professionals from all over the world to connect and learn from each other. This event is a great networking opportunity for professionals in the industry.
– June –
Play Expo Glasgow
When: 9-10 June, 2018
Where: Braehead Arena, Glasgow
What’s the deal? Organised by gaming events specialists Replay Events, Play Expo Glasgow promises to bring top notch video game entertainment to the Scottish capital. On its third edition, the event features tournaments, cosplay competitions, retro arcades, next-gen consoles and much more.
– July –
When: 10 July, 2018 (They host several events throughout the year so follow them on social media or keep track of their blog to stay updated on the latest dates.)
Where: C:\ Side Quest, Brighton
What’s the deal? GamerBake is the most creative event on this list, yet the premise is very simple: A video game inspired cake competition. And the best part is that if you don’t enjoy baking, you can still stop by to taste the goods and buy the cakes. All proceeds go to charity.
When: 13 – 16 July, 2018
Where: Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge
What’s the deal? The biggest student game developing festival in the UK. Brains Eden is a place where young developers get to learn from professionals of the most important companies in the industry. It includes a 48-hour jam where attendees have to design a game based on a surprise theme.
NERG (North East Retro Gaming)
When: 14 – 15 July, 2018
Where: Gateshead International Stadium, Gateshead
What’s the deal? Loved playing Streetfighter II on the SNES? Or how about the first Mario Kart? If you’re a fan of first and second generation video games then NERG this is the event for you. A weekend where you’ll get to play the best games from the past and spend time with like-minded people.
– August –
When: 10 – 12 August, 2018
Where: Novotel London West, London
What’s the deal? As they describe it themselves, Nine Worlds is a geekfest that during three days will shamelessly celebrate Fantasy and Sci-Fi. While it does feature some gaming related activities, it is not the focus point of the event, but still, if you’re into Game of Thrones, Doctor Who or anything in between, then by all means…
When: 24 – 27 August, 2018
Where: NEC, Birmingham
What’s the deal? Easily the most famous, Insomnia is also one of the oldest UK gaming events. It is a big festival about everything gaming including big exhibition halls, interactive activities and eSports tournaments, among others. They hold three editions a year in spring, summer and winter.
– September –
Retro Games Night
When: 7 September, 2018
Where: Belgrave Music Hall ∓ Canteen, Leeds
What’s the deal? This event that’s organised by the same people behind the Retro Games Fair, introduces itself as the best alternative night in Leeds. The premise is simple, a night of gaming where you and your mates can get together to play some old titles and have a drink. The occasion takes place every two months, so make sure to bookmark their website to stay on top of the latest dates.
When: 20 – 23 September, 2018
Where: NEC, Birmingham
What’s the deal? They introduce themselves as the UK’s biggest gaming event. EGX is the place to discover new indie games, try out blockbuster titles weeks before their release and experience eSports events. On top of all the fun, the event will feature the GameIndustry.biz Career Fair for those interested in getting a job in the industry.
Type: Performance, game
When: 21/22 September, 2018 (EGX afterparty). Other dates in October, November and December have been scheduled so check their website for more details.
Where: Royal Institution, London
What’s the deal? Part game show, part comedy routine, part gaming, Wifi Wars is a spectacle where the audience gets to play along with their own smartphones or tablets. Led by video game commentator and comedian Steve McNeil, the show promises to deliver lots of laughs and a bloody good time.
Update: WiFi Wars does livestreams now! These allow you to play along from home. Check their website for more details.
– October –
Type: eSports festival
When: 19 – 21 October, 2018
Where: SEC Centre, Glasgow
What’s the deal? Self-described as ‘the ultimate gaming experience’, SEC offers a series of options which include an eSports arena, over 18’s hall, tournaments and much more. This occasion is also a great opportunity for fans to meet their favourite streamers and professional gamers.
Play Expo Blackpool
When: 27 – 28 October, 2018
Where: Norcalympia Exhibition Centre, Blackpool
What’s the deal? Blackpool’s very own gaming event features activities for gamers of all ages. With tournaments, tabletop games and the very popular Minecraft area, there’s bound to be something for every video game fan.
– November –
eSports Industry Awards 2018
When: 12 November, 2018
Where: The Brewery, London
What’s the deal? The British award ceremony that celebrates the very best of the eSports industry.
– 2019 –
Retro Games Fair
When: 2 February, 2019
Where: Leeds Marriott Hotel, Leeds
What’s the deal? Fan of retro games? Then this is your opportunity to get your hands on your favourite title from back in the day. Retro Games Fair will feature more than 60 sellers in over 130 tables of goodies.
When: 5 – 7 February, 2019
Where: ExCeL, London
What’s the deal? Unlike the other events on this list that are designed for gamers or developers, ICE is a B2B exhibit aimed at professionals. With 133 countries represented, ICE is one of the biggest international gaming fairs in the world.
Play Expo Manchester
When: 4 – 5 May, 2019
Where: Manchester Central Exhibition Complex
What’s the deal? For those gamers in the north, Play Expo Manchester is a great choice to get your needs fixed. The event will feature current generation and retro games tournaments, talks, arcades, pinballs, merchandise stands and a cosplay presentation, just to name a few activities.
When: 9 – 11 July, 2019
Where: Hilton Brighton Metropole, Brighton
What’s the deal? A two-day conference that covers every aspect of the game development process from the idea, going through design and funding to production. Develop: Brighton is a great opportunity for smaller studios to make themselves known and learn from their peers.
– TBA –
Celtic Games Show
Where: Tramshed and Tramshed Tech, Cardiff
What’s the deal? The Celtic Games Show is an event dedicated to the growing video game industry in Wales. Developers, professionals and casual gamers alike are invited to take part in the one day program that features talks, workshops and even an afterparty!
What’s the deal? VRTGO is an annual conference and expo that explores everything related to VR (virtual reality). Regardless if it is for entertainment purposes or other more serious endeavours, the event is a perfect occasion to find out the present and future of VR.
WeGeek’s Gaming Utopia
What’s the deal? WeeGeek is a gaming events company with the mission to foster a community of gamers through their activities. Utopia is the latest of these projects and offers a four-day program filled with interesting options which include gaming tournaments, publisher demos, an orchestra, a sci-fi movie marathon, lightsaber classes (!) and much more.
Note: Check out WeGeek and four other agencies in our ‘Event agencies to look forward to in 2018′ post.
When: Unfortunately, VideoBrains is on hiatus right now. Keep an eye on their website for new developments.
Where: At London Gaming Bars
What’s the deal? Catered towards the more “intellectual” gamers out there, VideoBrains is an initiative by several professionals in the industry who organise monthly talks on different subjects related to the sector. Anyone, regardless of their background, is welcome as long as they’re willing to take a look at video games from a different angle.
What’s the deal?: LionzDen is a tournament organised by Ozzy the Liono that gathers gamers to prove their skills on games like FIFA and Tekken and the action takes place on — wait for it — a real boxing ring.
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