Let’s have a chat about EGX, because I keep seeing a few people sulking about it on twitter, then people sulking about people sulking about it, then people sulking about people sulking about people sulking about it.
I’m not having a go at any of you, as various people I like have fallen on either side. And both sides have got valid points! So let’s have a look at them.
Some people are sulking because EGX has left its usual home of Earl’s Court, which is In London, and moved to the larger Birmingham NEC, which can fit more people in it but it is in Birmingham and, crucially, Not In London.
Other people are sulking because everything’s in fucking London these days and what is it with people who are in London seemingly being completely incapable of ever leaving the place?
Meanwhile, other people are sulking because hey, just because they live in London and don’t fancy traipsing up to Birmingham doesn’t mean they’re London-centric arseholes so please don’t stereotype them as such, thanks.
Here’s how I, as a child of the north-west tied to neither Birmingham nor London, see it.
First off, right, it is a nightmare getting London folk to attend things north of their stinking shithole of a city. Some of you make the effort for GameCity, but even then you start fucking hallucinating because your cardiovascular system can’t handle normal levels of oxygen. Any further north and you go into shock because you haven’t got any signal, Uber isn’t working and you haven’t got an overrated gourmet burger joint in sight at all times.
As a geographical outsider myself, I can totally get where the venom towards London and all of the scum in it comes from, because there is the occasional waft of genuine elitism coming from our fair capital - or at the very least, an excruciating lack of awareness of the amount of travelling everyone else in the country has to do for stupid videogames shit. And this is before you even consider the folk for whom the travel distance to London is impossible due to financial or health reasons.
I don’t think many people are kicking off purely because EGX isn’t in London any more. They’re not even necessarily kicking off because it’s in Birmingham, as such. They’re kicking off because it’s at the NEC, which isn’t really in Birmingham, it’s just near it, and there’s fuck-all to do there apart from the expo itself. And while the expo is alright, it’s the stuff happening around it that made EGX so special. Whether you’re going to actual organised parties or just getting to hang around with cool people you normally only speak to on twitter, the show itself took a backseat to the fact that it gathered everyone in a place where there’s loads of cool stuff to do. At the NEC, there’s one Wetherspoons for thousands of attendees, and if you step out of the hall for some fresh air, there’s nothing to see apart from the world’s largest car-park.
Here’s the thing, though. EGX is huge now, so maybe it’s just not aimed at us any more? I mean, Christ, most people I know who normally attend the show don’t even pay to get in - they just blag a press pass, same as we do. Like the county’s biggest games expo needs fucking Midnight Resistance’s help spreading the word or else nobody might come next year!
This year’s EGX certainly drew much closer to the horror stories you hear about the likes of E3 or Gamescom; crowded, noisy, stinking halls where actually playing a videogame feels like a pain in the arse but you can sure as shit pay someone to engrave your name on a fucking bullet. But that’s an unavoidable side-effect of how hugely popular it is now, and while I personally haven’t got the mental fortitude to deal with it, the thousands of people queueing up for hours for a five-minute go on the next Assassin’s Creed don’t seem to mind one bit. And that's fine, despite my apparent need to mock their enthusiasm.
What irks is that despite all the moaning about EGX’s relocation, relatively few people are talking about the perfect antidote that is Rezzed - EGX’s indie-focused younger sibling - having moved to London from its original home in Brighton, clearly meant to fill EGX’s now-outgrown role as the event to bring all the cool industry/enthusiast jerks together. EGX may have grown to a size that makes it unbearable for some, but the way Rezzed has developed in tandem with it shows clear awareness on the organisers' part that each expo can serve different audiences.
Rezzed suffers from none of the things that EGX’s enormous success has brought on. There’s fresh air, sunlight, artisanal pies, and while I know it’s utterly tiresome to take the piss out of FPS fans, it's refreshingly free of cunts like these:
We had to queue behind them for ten minutes just to pay for parking before we’d even got to the event hall proper. I really like Destiny, but come on, lads.
While I've no great love for London, and nothing at all against Birmingham, there are legitimate reasons to complain about EGX’s move to the NEC. Not least because the expo was a firm fixture in our community's calendar thanks to the annual tradition of the Joypod/MidRes/Gamewank/Cane and Rinse/BitSocket/whoever meet, and many feel that's now been lost. But if you're a part of that community and you're looking for a new expo to call home, and if it has to be in London, Rezzed is absolutely it.