Geek 2013: a great celebration of British gaming

Mark Newton
28 Feb 2013

At the weekend I drove down to Margate, not to buy a ‘kiss me quick’ hat nor bask in the winter sunshine riding on the back of the famous beach donkeys. No, I was there to visit the Winter Gardens where Geek 2013 was being held for its second year.

The Winter Gardens are, for those of you who don’t know, a series of halls where various shows and performances are held. I was visiting Geek 2013 with my 25-year-old game-loving son, Oliver.  There were several people dressed as gaming characters and a large stage with a presentation about what to look for when choosing a wig for your Cosplay character.

A more magnificent sight greeted us when we entered one of the side halls. This was a huge, dark, noisy room full of screens connected to every gaming machine you could imagine. Everything was hands-on and so you could play the original version of a particular game on the original console or machine it was written on.

There were various competitions, including a 16-player Halo hub that ran all day long. There was even an area with vintage pinball machines where I got my fix and amassed a respectable score of over 35,000,000 on the Star Wars-themed machine. After Oliver had finished in the Halo tournament, we went back to the other hall to listen to a presentation about a new film in the making called From Bedroom to Billions about the UK gaming industry in the 80s and 90s. I had a couple of long chats with the designers of small computers similar to the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino, and before long it was time for the event to close for the day.

Geek 2013 was a four-day event and the organisers are to be congratulated on creating a true celebration of gaming culture. They avoided making it a dry history lesson on computer gaming, like some such events that I have attended in the past. Instead they managed to portray the fun and enjoyment the industry brings. If they get the funding they need for next year, I shall definitely be going again.

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