What is Insomnia?…It is Big that is What it Is!!
Insomnia was founded in 1999 and for over 14 years the Insomnia Gaming Festival has been a place for gamers of all backgrounds to congregate, socialise, discover new things and ultimately just play. From that humble start Insomnia has grown to be the Mecca for UK PC gamers and is held three times a year. During previous Insomnia, Multiplay events manager Michael Lambert, had observed that many of the LAN players would congregate and play board games. Realising that there was a crossover between board gaming and computer gaming, he envisaged a Board and Card Game area. There was only one company he felt that could share his vision and to make this area a reality… GAMESQUEST. With the support of Europe’s Premier Board Game distributor, Esdevium Games and their team of professional demonstrators, the TableTop Gaming area was born!
LAN Event…What’s the Point!!
The main feature of a huge complex of halls and events is the LAN (Local area network) event. Between a thousand to two thousand PC Gamers, bring their own computer equipment and plug into the Network at their arranged table. Insomnia tries its best to put gamers in groups of their favourite games. For about three to four days, these gamers will play online games or games on their computers any time of day or night, as long as they are physically able. They can have computer equipment, food and drink delivered to their table, there is no reason to leave their station with the exception of toilet and sleep breaks. My first impression and that of other board gamers who hear about it is, What is the Point?
The Atmosphere…The Environment!!
Gamesquest was invited to Insomnia 49, the Summer event. We were given the gallery across from the Canteen area, so it had to be manned twenty four hours between Thursday to the Tuesday. We had been told the numbers, but seeing and experiencing the halls filled with over 2000 gamers and over 25,000 people turning up for all the events is something else. My sons and their friends, extended friends and family were coerced into manning the stall over the festival. A number were given stations to bring their computers and share times playing games. From those that took up the option and experience the gaming hall, I had a chance to visit and gain the feedback on the event. The first response was unanimously about the atmosphere. There is a massive buzz continually circling the hall. Spontaneous cheers erupt when a player yells out his delight at ending a game or fight. It has to be experienced to believed.
Friends…To Be Found and Made!!
Gamers keep coming back, event after event and year after year. Not just to indulge in UK’s biggest LAN event, not even to add to the current social tendency of being able to say “I was there.” They come back because they make friends. My eldest son informed me that he couldn’t make dinner as his computer was in bits. On investigation it turned out that a group of players had turned up to Insomnia for the first time and on setting up, found that one of their computers was not working. My son couldn’t let this first visit be a disaster, testing each fundamental component from his own computer until the failed hardware was found. Someone’s event was averted from disaster, a friend made, acquaintances found and this type of selfless community is found throughout the event.
The Experience…Once Bitten, Twice Shy!!
Insomnia is not just about the PC Gamers, the organisers are trying to make the event an all encompassing gaming event. Besides the PC gamers hall, there are Cosplay events where competitors are treated like film stars, followed by video camera and photographers and interviewed by YouTube bloggers and the like. Halls for watching competitive MOBA gaming, such as League of legends and Dota 2. Of course you had the exhibitors hall, with computer accessories available in glorious Technicolor and design. Every night from Midnight, a Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow session began with a group of between 50 and 100 gamers, half in costume would play until 7am. Then come back every night, I guess once bitten!
Boardgaming…Was Not Forgotten!!
Gamesquest and Esdevium went to Insomnia 49, with the intent of presenting board gaming in as professional a manner as possible. Insomnia supported them in providing the space and a huge plasma screen, so that board game reviews and demonstrations could be viewed by those waiting in queues. The whole area had a gantry built around it, filled with supporting banners. We had nine board gaming tables with one dedicated for giant demonstration versions of Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Two extra tables were also set aside for Magic the Gathering demonstrations. Every table was clothed and the shop area was beautifully draped in black and silver and as much variety of board and card games presented for everyone to have a look at. The big question was, would board gaming be the forgotten element of the event, the result was completely the reverse.
Achievement…Giving Something Back to the Hobby!!
I have attended Insomnia 49 and 50. The first as a sales person and the second as a board game demonstrator. On each occasion being genuinely surprised by the enthusiasm shown by visitors to the board gaming area or should I say arena. Board gaming has moved on from Monopoly and the public got caught up in the imagination of the current crop of games. Families that had travelled from Holland, Belgium and the four corners of the UK for the MineCraft Expo ended up playing up to six hours on the demonstration tables. Leaving with bags filled with Zombicide, Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Demonstrating Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game at Insomnia 50 came as a surprise. With groups of individuals or friends getting introduced or reunited with a Role Playing type game. Even other demonstrators were queuing up to play it. I had that good feeling of giving something back to the hobby that I enjoy.
Yep!…We Will be Back For INSOMNIA 51, 52 & 53!!
After exhibiting hours we played our favourite board games, inviting the public and pcgamers to join us if they so wanted. They came and enjoyed a quieter more atmospheric gaming session, friendships were made and suggestions noted for what players wanted to see and play next time. Expect the board gaming area to grow event by event, Gamesquest will be doing its best to bring something new to the Tabletop Gaming area at every event. Insomnia 50 announced it would be moving from Telford to Coventry at the RICOH ARENA. I can tell you now that accommodation on the grounds have been fully booked already. Insomnia is a growing and expanding Gaming Festival and Gamesquest will be there for all the three shows in 2014, we hope to see you there.
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Paul Matthews is a Sales Manager for Gamesquest Ltd, as well as a part-time Board game Demonstrator and Blogger. After several years playing Yu-gi-oh at Tournament level, his latest passion is all things board gaming. Besides playing board games, Paul is a part time author and enjoys reading and archery. Paul has a Degree in Humanities Psychology/Counselling and several Life-skill Degrees in Parenting, Horse Management and Ecommerce.