The first London Gaming Market started the year I'd moved out of London – so after living there for 7yrs with barely any retro gaming events to speak of, one appeared just as I left! However, after a 12 month sabbatical from overcrowded public transport, overpriced beer & ridiculous property prices, I once again took up residence in London which meant on Sunday 2nd April, I got to go to my first London Gaming Market – but was it any good? Read on…
The event takes place in the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, just a few minutes’ walk from the tube & very easy to find - perfect for those not familiar with the area. There's a Tesco right outside the tube too so you can even fuel yourself up relatively cheaply before making your way there; pennies saved on food = more for gaming purchases!
I was lucky enough to get in early before the crowds so got an unhindered view of the various stalls before the crowds arrived - however, being a newbie at this event I took the opportunity far too lightly and didn't take full advantage of the situation due to having no clue how busy the place would eventually be and just how quickly it would fill.
Naively I expected something calm along the lines of a church fête - just casually going around, engaging in some pointless but friendly chat about the item you’d picked up before eventually paying for said item and moving on; instead picture pigeons descending on a town centre after some crazy old person drops a kilo of breadcrumbs on the floor and you’re somewhere close.
Chatting to various stall holders who had attended previous LGM’s I was told that the organisers had removed a partition to open up the room as the last event was separated between video games and board games, definitely a good move as the room was pretty easy to move around despite the large numbers. The event is obviously getting bigger each time and with more visitors as word spreads about the event, there may be a time when the event needs to occupy 2 whole rooms – wishful thinking? We shall see!
So, down to the important part - what was on show? Console Passion, Ally The Retro Hunter, Richie Rich Collectibles & Vintage Collectable Retro (VCR) were all in attendance with large stands, each brimming with various games & consoles and accompanied by lots other stands each with a brilliant variety of their own and it was great fun going around and seeing what each stall had to offer; plushies, keychains, wallets, wood art, gaming posters, Game & Watches were just a few of the items I spotted.
The modding scene was also well represented here with Retrospective22 having a fantastic selection of customised GameCubes along with Zelda-themed NES, SNES & N64’s and a DS Lite which had been converted into a GameBoy Advance and hydro-dipped with a Captain America skin! It immediately stood out and was quickly sold to a member of the GamesYouLoved team! Other honourable modding mentions go to Deadpan Robot & GameBoy Shack who both had impressive stalls with vast arrays of GameBoy cases & backlight mods on show.
For those of you who like a bit of gaming literature, retro RPG fanzine Hyper Play RPG were in attendance with their latest issue - the first one in full colour too which was enough to tempt me to stop by and pick up a copy!
Whilst at the Hyper Play stand I spotted a group of guys promoting a new book called Forerunner which looked very stylish and arty and immediately drew my interest.
The guys had been to the States interviewing some of the people behind video games (including Nolan Bushnell of Atari) and photographing locations which influenced game design. I got myself a copy which I'll hopefully make a start on very soon!
Due to living in a small flat with someone who doesn't quite share my love of video games I am always restricted with purchasing (I've been told that if I buy one more console I’ll have to move out!), but along with the reading material I did manage to pick up two games I wanted; a really great condition boxed Japanese copy of ESWAT and a sealed copy of Jet Set Radio on the Dreamcast - I look on this as a case of quality over quantity!
Overall I can say with confidence that it was a great experience and if you are lucky enough to live within travelling distance and into retro gaming it's definitely worth a visit.