Interview: Strategy Game Con UK

By Joe Robinson 04 Aug 2016 0

Last month we brought you news of a new multi-day gaming event devoted to table-top gaming – Strategy UK. Since then, they've been announcing more events and tournaments to keep people occupied for the four days the show is open. We're very excited to see how it turns out, and we hope this grows to become a staple in the UK events calendar.

We managed to grab the show's Project Manager, Rob Hooley, and ask him a few questions about what Strategy UK will be like.

Question: MCM has been running the London ComicCon event for quite a few years now – what made you want to host something that focused on strategy games?

Rob Hooley: The tabletop gaming market is huge, be it board games, card games, RPG’s, miniatures. After so long being ‘under the surface’ it’s finally becoming more mainstream and being recognised as a fantastic way to meet and interact socially – with all the benefits that can bring. There are so few large scale multi-day events where this can be celebrated, and even fewer that are able to handle competitive gaming on the scale that we’ve set out with Strategy. We saw a ‘niche’ in that marketplace and decided to fill it!

Question: What specific lessons have you learned from running MCM that you think will be able to apply to Strategy GameCon's first event?

Rob Hooley: The general logistics of large events, being able to use the MCM infra-structure for things like event pre-sales and organisation, and of course the massive following that MCM has in terms of being able to spread news of the event by word-of-mouth all help with marketing the event. The biggest lesson is in knowing what’s required in running large scale shows and events such as Strategy and being able to avoid the pitfalls to bring a more polished experience for visitors.

Question: Why did you want to host the show in Telford, and not London?

Rob Hooley: Telford is quite a central location with good transport links from most of the country, and generally accommodation is cheaper outside of the capital for attendees – one of the aims was to make the show affordable for gamers and families who may want to spend a long weekend there. The Telford International Centre offers a really good space suitable for 24 hour gaming with large exhibitor and event halls that can hold several large scale tournaments, smaller spaces for ‘quieter’ gaming like RPG’s and board games and all linked by a large atrium that can be used for free gaming and socialising.

Question: Apart from the obvious headline focus, how will Strategy UK differ from MCM Comic Con?

Rob Hooley: Strategy will provide a much slower pace than Comic Con, the extended opening hours means that as a visitor you can take your time to browse, to play games and to generally just relax and enjoy your hobby with a room full of people that share your passion.

Question: Wargamer.com has been running a series of features regarding the future of Wargaming – one of our contributors feels that UK wargaming is in danger of dying out – do you think Strategy could provide some kind of salvation?

Rob Hooley: Unfortunately I’m not a Wargamer*, but I look at all the games on the market and see a list that grows and grows and grows. If anything I’d say there was more interest now than ever before?

*So many of the models look so good and there’s SO many games I’d want to play, I daren’t start!

Question: Strategy will be a 24 hour event – not quite a UK first but certainly a very rare thing – what are you hoping to provide people by staying open all night? What services WON'T be open 24 hours?

Rob Hooley: The dealer and exhibitor hall will be closing outside of standard show hours, but the gaming spaces will be open for the entire duration of the show – both for the scheduled events that may well run into the night, and to provide playing space for people who simply want to sit and play. It may be difficult to buy hot food in the venue in the late evening and the bar on-site will be closing at midnight but I’m reliably informed that pizza delivery still works!

Question: You've got a big tournament presence at the first Strategy – are you targeting tournaments specifically for Strategy UK's programming?

Rob Hooley: One of the goals with Strategy was to provide space and time for companies and organisations to have the opportunity to run large scale (and small!) tournaments and events to give that “big room” event feel. As a visitor to the show, maybe experiencing a new game that’s being demo’ed to you for the first time, what’s better than seeing that in the room just next door there’s 200 people playing the game that you’re interested in? There’s something special about the feeling you get walking into a big event hall and being surrounded by people who share a common love for what they’re doing – Strategy is all about celebrating that feeling and letting people enjoy their hobby, and if you don’t want to be competitive there’s plenty of space to just sit and play.

Question: What's the long-term goal of the event? What do you hope it will evolve into? What new services/events/initiatives do you want to try?

Rob Hooley: Gencon in the US obviously sets the bar for Gaming Conventions, if we were able to rival that it would be great!

Thanks again to Rob for taking the time to speak to us. Tickets for Strategy UK are available now, so make sure you grab yours. Wargamer will be there Thursday – Saturday, and we'll be posting a special 'Wargamer's Guide' to the show closer to the time.

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