In a new, irregular series of features, TheGameJar goes and visits gaming events and lets you know whether or not they’re any good, how much of your wallet you’ll have left and if you’ll enjoy them.
In some ways, I know this isn’t for me. I’m an almost middle-aged guy with no offspring, a professional interest in gaming and a need to find that one perfect piece of merchandise that is casual enough to go on my desk and not look too outrageous (no MGS V Quiet figures here). So as I approach Alexandra Palace, home of the first regular public service broadcast in history, I remember that I’m here to observe and enjoy, not to be a cynical old git.
Legends of Gaming is a new event put on in conjunction with many people, but GAME is probably the biggest. It’s an event that sees popular YouTube stars battle each other on stage in various different competitions (not for any actually prizes, just for fun and kudos), along with fun interactive things for you to enjoy with your family. Stars such as Ali-A, Syndicate, Ashlee Marie and others all played Minecraft, Call of Duty and other games on the main stage, in between showers of swag and IGN co-hosted CBBC Roadshow style links… You can see why I knew it wasn’t for me.
This is all good though, it was entertaining and I even enjoyed watching the camaraderie between Syndicate and Ali-A as they played a 1v1 paintball mode on Call of Duty Advanced Warfighter. There were several YouTube sponsored stands where people could play games, Syndicate’s had Rocket League and Trials Fusion, that included One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, and The Swindle, along with publisher stands featuring Pro Evo 2016, Metal Gear Solid V, FIFA 16, and LOADS of Nintendo games like Splatoon and Mario Maker. There was also a separate area with a LAN tournament including some Minecraft parkour and FIFA 15 multiplayer.
In fact the weird mix of family entertainment and pseudo pro-gaming was something that felt a bit awkward. There was this mix of adult and kids, families and teenagers, all under a roof best known in recent times for BBC radio gigs and Premier League Darts. The strange mix of mature audiences and families who went along because their children wanted to see their favourite YouTubers highlighted the lack of identity for the event. Keen gamers were obviously intrigued thanks to the YouTube presence and the venue itself is always one that has history but in reality was a bit too small for the scope I think they were trying to achieve. This became even more highlighted with the games as you cannot show or have games that are 18+ rating because this was a family event. Not a massive problem until you realise that a lot of the games were different versions of sports or Minecraft.
The financial side of me was quite pleased. The tickets were a good price starting at £14 and had several packages including a VIP package that gave you some extra free stuff (swag for the uninitiated). The stage regularly had opportunities to win prizes as well and there were a few competitions going on at the individual stands. So if you’ve got a couple of children, this was a nice day out. The venue isn’t extremely difficult to get to and there’s nice views and other things to do there so there’s something different (along with tables outside to escape you when you inevitably need a pint to de-stress).
In fact that’s one thing that did frustrate me about the venue, inside at least – missed opportunities. As with most gaming events, food was priced at a slightly higher than average mark-up. But there were so little outlets (four in the main arena and one in LAN area and a popcorn stand) that queues were very long and frustrating. As they normally are at events but a few more snack stands and maybe someone roving around with drinks would have alleviated the pressure. There was also very little retail there.
Now this probably sounds stupid as I’m moaning that there wasn’t enough to spend my money on there, but there really wasn’t. There was an incredibly PC biased pop-up GAME store, an official clothing stand, an Independent PC peripherals stand (so well over £50 in each case) and a couple of T-shirts, geeky trinkets and a dogtag/bullet engraving stand. I must say I was tempted by the Back To The Future Sports Almanac in a frame, but if I wanted to spend between £15-20, there wasn’t much there that was gaming focused. Compared to events like EGX and comic conventions, there wasn’t anything that I saw that wowed me to buy it and, whilst lots of people were looking around, I didn’t see many shopping bags. More merchandise would have been welcome, although again this is limited by the available space in the venue.
So once I’d exhausted everything there was to see and decided I wasn’t going to queue for ages for food, I left. I wasn’t sure what exactly I thought of the event though, because whilst it worked for families, I think the mix of people was confusing, which in turn confuses how the event can be received. Who is this event for? As I left, behind me a mother asked their son “did you enjoy Legends of Gaming?” The son, less than ten years old by the sound of his voice said “Yeah! It was great. Can we go next year?” So, in reality, it really doesn’t matter what I think, as long as someone had a good time.
All photos are taken from the Legends of Gaming twitter account, @logtournament.