On Friday the 10th of February, me and Ben Joy ventured to Guildford for this year's edition of the Guildford Games Festival. After the physical event was forced online for a time (pandemic related), the fest was back in full force this year, taking over G Live, a sizable venue and perfect arena for showcasing what the games community has to offer in Guildford.
As a business, we've always enjoyed a good relationship with the Guildford community - despite being technically outsiders, we've built strong bonds with the incredible studios and publishers who call Guildford home, and we're always happy to help them shout about how fantastic they are. And this festival, organised by a tireless committee and overseen by Liquid Crimson, is a brilliant way to do that.
Some of the companies on show were ones we're already close with - Hello Games and Supermassive Games to name two of our favourites! But as well as meeting up with old friends it was good to make new ones too. There was a really varied selection of local creatives in attendance, including staff from Criterion, nDreams, Glowmade, Stellar Entertainment, and many others.
And, because of our dedication to community causes, and also because we thought it would be fun, me and Ben agreed to volunteer, and help with anything we could on the day. We figured there'd be a handful people who'd ask us for directions, and we might fetch some cables from time to time. No big deal! Right guys? ... Right?
As it turns out, the event was incredibly well attended, exceeding all of our expectations. After the exhibitors had set up and doors were opened, a huge crowd gathered and began pouring into the venue, and it was clear that the volunteering team had their work cut out for them! But it was honestly so much fun, and you could feel the energy buzzing throughout the event.
Through our volunteering, we met hundreds of attendees - all of them a vital part of what makes Guildford so compelling, and the perfect place for videogames to be made. There were young people looking for their first steps, people making career changes and looking for advice, grizzled veterans dispensing sage wisdom, and everything in between. It was a real microcosm of the thriving local community.
As for us, our mission was simple: Help everyone. Whether that meant helping attendees to find rooms, securing equipment and resources for exhibitors, or giving everyone emotional support when necessary 😂 If you were there, I hope you felt like the team gave you everything that you needed.
It certainly felt like a massive success to us, and a testament not only to the Guildford community but also to the incredible work put in by the Guildford Games committee. I have some personal experience running events, and I was really blown away by just how many moving parts there were, and how smoothly it all came together. Alongside the many games and studios being shown off by exhibitors, there was also a full schedule of talks and panels, covering topics such as employability, narrative design, social media, diversity, and more.
And if organising such a compelling event wasn't enough, the team at Guildford Games followed it up with a digital festival, streamed on Twitch and YouTube, on the very next day. We were happy to support this initiative too, providing a streaming setup for the team. Basically, our cloud computing resources, that we usually use to make fun videos, were put to better use for a day - broadcasting a variety of additional talks and interviews to interested viewers across the globe.
We'd like to thank the committee for pulling all of this off, and thank all of our fellow attendees, for making it such a worthwhile day out. Because it was so well-organised, packed with fans, and focused on talent, it was a festival without equal. And, like all good festivals, it put the stars centre stage: The constellation of superstars, that we call Guildford.