Features & News
Eurogamer Expo Interview: Tom Champion
September 7, 2009, Author: Andy Corrigan
As you may remember, we announced a while back that This Is My Joystick would be attending this year’s Eurogamer Expo this October 27th and 28th, and in the build up we thought it would be a good idea to find out what has been announced thus far, the types of things we can expect, and an insight into what it’s like to organise an event of this stature. With that in mind I took a few moments to speak with Tom Champion, Eurogamer’s Community & Gaming Manager, about his involvement with the UK’s only consumer gaming expo.
Hi Tom, I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank you for allowing us this interview. As both a gamer and someone who desperately wants to do games journalism for a living, I am extremely excited about the expo. It’ll be the first time I personally have attended such an event, and I know a few of our staff members are the same. As a site, to be accepted as press in our first year is a massive deal to us, and we look forward to learning even more about the industry we love while there.
Q. First of all, what can you tell us about your role within Eurogamer and the involvement you have in the preparation for the Expo.
“Well my job title is Community & Gaming Manager, which perhaps doesn’t tell you too much! My role is varied and includes promoting the Expo via the Eurogamer (and other) forums, updating our Twitter and Facebook accounts, ensuring that the games we’ve been promised actually turn up on the day and booking hotels and making transport arrangements for the EG staff. There’s also a fairly hefty chunk of customer services thrown in there as well.”
Q. Why the decision to expand and do an event in Leeds as well as London?
“We felt that the North has always been a bit under served when it comes to gaming events. Most events take place in London so we wanted to buck that trend and put on a show for the all the gamers in the North who are unable to make it all the way to London.”
Q. I guess two venues doubles your work?
“It certainly increases it! We felt that it was something we really wanted to do though and I think it’s going to make the Eurogamer Expo even more special. It’s going to be a pretty hectic week though!”
Q. How difficult is it to organise something like this? How long has the prep-work been in motion?
“It’s a challenge, for sure. You don’t realise how much there is to organise until you really start getting into the detail. It’s very exciting though and because we’re all gamers we know the type of event that we’d like to attend ourselves and I think that’s vital.
We were thinking about this year’s event as soon as last year’s finished. The guys have been working hard to secure the biggest games since about January and I will have been doing my job for about 6 months by the time the Expo starts this year.”
Q. It’s unusual for a publication of Eurogamers type to run this type of event, and normally the sort of thing you’d be attending. So why did Eurogamer feel the need to start up a UK gaming expo? Is it simply spotting something that the UK has been missing for a number of years?
“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the last part of your question. Europe has been missing a regular consumer gaming event since the demise of ECTS. We think we can fill that void (and do it better!).
I believe that Eurogamer is ideally placed to put on this kind of event. We’ve been around for a while, our tenth birthday was last week, so we have all the contacts we need to put on an event like this. We’re well respected by both the industry and gamers alike and I think that’s important too. I think people know that they can trust us to put on a good show.”
Everyone at Eurogamer is a passionate gamer and we’re really excited by the idea of creating an event that people can rely on to become part of their calender year after year.”
Q. Can you give us a bit of a background about previous events, I only became aware of the Eurogamer Expo last year, but I believe they’ve been running a little bit longer?
“Well last year was the debut for the Expo but we’ve been running the Gamesindustry.biz Career Fair for a few years now.
2008 proved that we can put on an event that gamers enjoy. This year is about scaling up our ambition and I think we’ve certainly done that by doubling the size of the London venue and bringing the event to Leeds. We’re also planning some very exciting developer presentations so that’s another key difference from last year.”
Q. What sort of a turn-out are you expecting? Are you close to capacity or is there still time for people to grab tickets in the run up?
“We’re expecting to sell out as we did last year, there are tickets still available at the moment but they’re really starting to sell quickly now as we get closer to kick off. In terms of numbers, we’re expecting somewhere in the region of 14,000 attendees over the 4 days which is a significant increase from last year.”
Q. What sort of feedback do you get from people within the industry?
“The feedback from within the industry has been universally positive. It’s kind of a low maintenance event for publishers. They provide us with the games and we do all the work. Unlike the massive gaming events (GDC, E3 etc) there’s no need for publishers to spend huge sums of money creating large stands and providing staff.
I think the developers also like the fact that their games are being played by gamers rather than just press and other industry folk. It gives them some valuable consumer feedback.”
Q. Obviously you allow press to attend, to a degree you could say that you are letting your rivals in. How is your working relationship with other publications, and what has the media’s feedback been like in regards to what you guys have achieved over recent years?
“Good question! I think our relationship with other publications is very good, I think there’s a certain camaraderie there rather than a rivalry as such. I think everyone in the press is pleased that we’re creating a major consumer event within the UK and for our part we’re happy that people are interested and want to take the time to cover it.”
Q. So the important stuff, what have you got at the show this year that you can tell us about?
“The full list of games is on our website here, and includes titles such as Mass Effect 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Tekken 6 and Left 4 Dead 2.
In addition to a stack of playable games we’re planning developer sessions where some big names will be giving presentations. These sessions will involve devs discussing their titles and potentially even announcing new games.
We’ll also have the return of the Career Fair where attendees will be able to speak face-to-face with developers and find out how to start a career in the industry. The list of exhibitors has still to be finalised but we already have companies such as Crytek, Sega, Starbreeze and Ubisoft signed up.
The Indie Arcade also returns this year. This will be a showcase for all the best indie games with guys like Introversion showing off their titles. The full line-up for the Indie Arcade should be announced this week.”
Q. Are there any more attendees or surprises still be announced?
“Yes! Plenty more on the way. We’re going to have game announcements soon from the likes of Sony and Nintendo.
Also, we haven’t even talked about the developer sessions yet. We’ve got some big names lined up and I think people are going to be really impressed.”
Q. Is there anything in particular that you personally are interested in checking out over the week or anything you deem as a big coup for the show?
“Personally I’m looking forward to some of the new IP we’ll have on show. Games like Borderlands, Dragon Age Origin and Dark Void.
I’m delighted that we’re going to have Assassin’s Creed 2 there, it’s going to be a huge game this Christmas. I’m also really impressed that so many of the games aren’t due for release until 2010. It’s great for gamers to be able to try these titles so far in advance of their release.”
Q. Can I have a job? What?! Don’t look at me like that; it was totally worth a shot!
“If you can do this, you’re in!
If you’re interested in getting involved in games journalism then the Career Fair is a great place to start. We’re going to have “Ask Eurogamer” sessions as well which will give you the chance to ask some of our editorial staff about how best to break into this field.”
Q. You all read that, that’s a legally binding contract! Finally, I know Eurogamer like to end their interviews with the following question: Would you rather be invisible or have lasers for eyes? So let’s turn the tables, which would you choose?
“Has to be invisibility, although I’d probably just use it to shoplift Drifters and packets of Tooty Frooties from the newsagents.”
No-one ever chooses the Lasers! Thanks for your time Tom!