Richard Denning | UK GAMES EXPO

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Richard Denning is the man behind the UK Games Expo, Britain’s biggest and boldest table-top, wargaming, boardgaming and traditional games convention. STARBURST caught up with him to find out more.

STARBURST: How did UK Games Expo come about?

Richard Denning: I’ve always been interested in games of all sorts, and I was aware that there were hobby games conventions all around the world, but not an awful lot in the UK. Quite a few large scale wargames shows, but not much on for board games and roleplaying. So I went to Germany’s Essen Spiel and the American Gen Con and these huge events are really focused on games enthusiasts. We wanted to create something that would engage the general public more.

Would you say it’s closer to Gen Con or Essen?

Closer to Gen Con, but it’s our take on it really. Our’s is a convention that goes on into the evening. Essen is more of a trade show that closes down in the evening, whereas Gen Con just keeps going. Our’s is more a big, long board games party. Its three days, playing games into the wee small hours.  That’s what we’re trying to achieve, our own take on a big games convention.

UK Games Expo is in its tenth year now. What are the next five years going to be like?

When we started out we didn’t have the intention of attaining the scale we have now. Very much for the first few years it was a hobby event we did in our spare time. We ran out of space, so we had to decide what we wanted to do with the event.  We had a long talk about it and decided to push it as far as we could go. We want to make it the equivalent of Comic Con and similar big events, but for board games.

Why the burst of interest in boardgames?

Computer games can be a relatively solitary thing. You’re in your own room, maybe talking to someone miles away in their own room. Hobbygames are an innately social thing. People have games evenings, they go to the pub or cafes to play games.

What’s this about a festival of food?

Well outside the venue we have plenty of food vans of all sorts of foods from all over; lots of options for everyone of every taste. It’s a good chance to socialise and eat.

What game is in constant rotation at you gaming table?

Well at this time of year we’re getting ready for the convention, so there’s lots of games to judge for the awards, so lots of different games. The one I played last night was called Halflings Feast from Triple Ace Games; it’s an eating party for halflings. My favourite game is Agricola, but this time of year I get to play lots of games.

Talking of Agricola, I understand you’ve a tournament going on?

Yes, plenty of tournaments. We have the largest Star Wars X-Wing miniatures tournament in the world going on, the Yavin Open. The winner gets to go to a special Star Wars event. We have a Catan tournament, and the winner gets to go to the final in the US. The winner of the Agricola will get to go to the final in Vienna. The winner of the Pandemic tournament gets to go the final in Spain, and the ultimate prize is to travel anywhere that is on the Pandemic boards.

UK Games Expo is at the Birmingham NEC and the nearby Birmingham Hilton, running from June 3th to 5th. Book now to avoid disappointment.


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