[Speaker’s Corner] – Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Essen?

It’s still 2016 so, legally and morally, I am still (but only just) allowed to talk about this year’s Essen Spiel. Some, if not most, of you will already have disregarded the products and experiences of this 175,000+ attendance gaming behemoth and be looking forward – in keen anticipation – to the Nuremberg Trade Fair, UK Games Expo et (USA) al with their attendant fountains of sweetly-scented, gamer jism ie. 2017’s “new releases”.

No longer, for you (it’s been an entire month FFS!), the back-spraining Odins, the Delphis and/or the Cattle-shoving Pfister-esque glories; those hard-to-source rarities from the Orient have been consigned to the shelves; the promotional items haemorrhaged into Social Media groups, the BGG Marketplace and eBay; the vast quantities of flesh and carbs have successfully transitioned through your alimentary canal and – most important of all – one’s definitive opinions on all hotnesses have been expressed. Time’s a-wastin’, dear friends, and we gotta keep movin’!

However, the one thing that has stayed with me from that Festival of Hysterical Cardboard are the memories of people; more so than ever before, my own experience of Spiel’16 was significantly less about the games and mostly about human interaction.

Stand demonstrations, interviews, meet-ups, shared meals and shared beers: I spent it in the company of friends, fans and fellow fanatics. When not chained to the booth, I was as restless as The Littlest Hobo. Even on my ‘day off’ (the Saturday), I played just the one game (Mondrian: The Dice Game, twice) and spent the rest of the 9 hours wandering about from hall-to-hall, stand-to-stand, chatting.

Essen has, after all these years and enabled by my minor dent in the game designing community, become a gratefully-received holiday with a bit of shopping/box-swapping tagged on for good measure!

However, if the above were not so (and I was just Tony the shy gamer), would I want/need to go to Essen Spiel in the first place? If I wanted to just buy games then probably not – the financial cost of travel and subsistence far outweighs any discounts I might get from buying direct.

What about promos? Realistically they’re dispensable, of course eg. I refused to pay 5 euros extra for the Lorenzo Il Magnifico Kickstarter exclusive cards because I could buy an entire Snowdonia expansion for that much (or, indeed, a donut shaped like a pig’s cock lollipop). What about the small, esoteric stuff? Most turn out to be just ‘Okay’ but, if ‘amazing’, will be picked up by the AEGs or ZMans in a frenzy of contract-showering, knob-swinging.

And what about the famous ‘buzz’? Well, if you mean ‘buzz’ as in chronic overcrowding, theft-paranoia, lifting injuries, body odour and/or a greenhouse of bacterial incubation then come on over, otherwise I think I’d prefer to just click-and-buy the proven delights from the comfort of a plague-free bedroom, thanks.

So, what I’m saying is: I am fanatical about going to Spiel because, as an exhibitor, my only costs are for game purchases and ‘to my liver’. That somewhat takes the shine of it a bit, doesn’t it? I’m so sorry.

(Afterthought: If you want to read MORE about my Spiel-ic adventures, look here:

-Tony
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