I’ve had a ticket for gaming trade fair EGX 2016 for a while now – I actually managed to snag the very last early entry one on offer – but only just got around to booking transport and accommodation. If anybody else is planning to go (or just happens to be in the general vicinity of Birmingham regardless), I’d love to hear from you, but more on that later.
It’s been overshadowed somewhat by the fact that I’ve recently had a book launched by Unbound, but I’m still very much hoping to take up a career in the games industry. Interactive fiction has always been an interest of mine, and I already have one commercially released game to my name, but getting a steady job in the area is proving to be extremely difficult just through regular applications. There are very few positions available for writers, which is what I’d like to do in the long run, and intense competition for entry-level QA Tester roles, which is what I’m more likely to get without previous experience.
The problem is that even the easier-to-get QA jobs still put me up against people who’ll have already got their foot in the door. On paper these jobs don’t require professional experience, but in practice it seems to be an overwhelming advantage. Getting one in this way at this stage probably isn’t impossible, but it would involve a flawless application, miraculous good timing, and probably some combination of dark sorcery and a convergence of planets.
Obviously that’s no reason to pass up opportunities when they appear on the job sites, but rather than just stuffing hundreds of CVs into digital bottles and flinging them into the unfathomable oceans of the interwebs, I figure it’s worth getting out there and meeting some more people who are already doing what I’d love to myself. The Brighton Global Game Jam earlier this year was a whole lot of fun and already put me in touch with some really neat people, and if nothing else I’m hoping that EGX will be much the same in that respect.
Beyond that, I’m also pretty keen to see what’s being exhibited there. I understand Dishonored 2 is going to be making its debut as something members of the public can actually pick up and play, and having been hugely impressed by the first one I’m looking forward to that. If you haven’t played Dishonored, by the way, it’s like Bioshock and Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a baby and the baby had magic powers and the magic powers included teleportation and the ability to summon swarms of man-eating plague rats. Probably a hard sell for a crèche, but great fun for everybody else.
As well as the big names, however, EGX seems like an opportunity to discover some indie developers who I’m less likely to stumble across online. These are probably the people I’m most interested to talk to, since they’re more likely to be working on the kind of thing I’ve got some experience with myself, there’s a better chance there’s an opportunity to get involved with them in some capacity, and also I’ve recently found myself more impressed by small indie releases than huge AAA titles. Gone Home in particular is one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played, while Receiver successfully implemented a mechanic I’d already written off as being totally impractical. These aren’t just games that are good in their own right: they’re games that I specifically wouldn’t expect to see come out of a huge studio, and they excel because of that.
All in all, I think EGX will be well worth turning up to. If you fancy going but don’t have tickets, they’re still available at the time of writing but are running seriously low. They’re also just single-day tickets at this point, so you’d probably have to live fairly close to Birmingham to make it worthwhile. Still, if that’s the case then there’s still a chance. I’ll be there all four days – September 22nd to 25th – so if anybody is going to be around at any point it would be great to meet up!