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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

A Festival of Games

What a way to kick off 2022. Over the last two years, I have attended some amazing online conferences, and hopefully we continue to see the huge increase in accessibility that can come from online/ remote events. However alongside that advancement, essentially since the start of 2020 we had lost the in person social aspect of community events, and the physical or tactile experience that can come from being in person.

I mention tactile specifically because that is a big part of my board game experience. The games I really enjoy are often the ones with beautiful strong tokens/ counters/ coins/ elements. In fact, slight side note, I am currently looking for metal gold coins, ideally with no denomination on (or just a 1) for use with Citadels, and potentially other games at some stage. Links and recommendations welcome.

The physical aspect of board games can really draw me in, and while I was unable to find my gold coins on Saturday, there was a wealth of collectables and accessaries on sale this weekend with a variety of exhibitors and sellers.

Alongside the stalls, Dice were again providing the opportunity to 'pick up and play' board games or have a team member come and introduce you to games (their rules and how to play). Dice are amazing and a lovely venue based in Southsea, a must visit if you are looking for a snack and a game or two over lunch.

During the day we played two games in the Board Game Zone; the first game, o my. We misunderstood the rules and really should have asked for help that went quite wrong. But for our second game we played Takenoko, which is a beautiful game (with some lovely playing pieces). Definitely a game we will seek out again.

Actually on our way into the venue we found out there is going to be a new gaming venue opening in Cosham in February, so if you can't get to Southsea or if Cosham is easier for you, it might be worth checking out Retro Gameplay when they open in February.

As in previous years it was great to see some new games being promoted and to hear some of their team explaining the games and providing walk throughs. At a previous year event I remember speaking to the creator of Pucket and feeling great that I had purchased my own copy of the game from the game's creator.

This year the two games that caught my eye where Achroma and Library Labyrinth. Unfortunately the couple of times we walked past their stalls they seemed very busy, so I didn't find out as much about these games as I would like, but I'm going to checkout their sites and maybe find some walk through videos.

While my focus was on the board games, there was an array of technology and digital gaming on show. Reign Gaming by Novatech again hosted a consistently full LAN Zone/ room of digital gaming, which seemed hugely popular with the under 21's.

In the lower floor the University of Portsmouth hosted the Innovation Zone. The VR gaming looked great. Can lightsaber training and battling look anything other than great? I must confess the item that captured my attention most I know almost nothing about, I was so mesmerised by it I totally forgot to ask questions. It was very much like the recent The Apprentice episode episode with the Crab Burgers - I just forgot. But look at this!

** The video file was quite large, so I have used the photo. But this looked amazing**

Throughout the day I saw the Go Geek Team roaming around the Guildhall, saying hi to people and taking photos. It was good to see them and hear a little more about the launch of their anti-bullying campaign. Though my main reaction was looking forward to Comic Con at the Guildhall later this year. The Go Geek Team are great and actually attend a lot of community events, so go follow their socials to find out where they are next.

Long time readers will remember me discussing playing games like Pandemic and Beasts of Balance with my friend Paul via Zoom/ Messengers during lockdowns; and the roll board games have had for me over the last few years. Heck we have a whole shelving unit almost full with board games now. So having the opportunity to share and celebrate board games was awesome. It was also great to see the evolution of digital games, along with virtual and augmented reality gaming. Events like this show gaming is/ can be so supportive and enjoyable in building relationships and communities. And please, no more monopoly! There are so many amazing and vast gaming options.

Finally thanks to Laura for being my photography assistant on the day and to the lovely team at Portsmouth Guildhall for inviting me along to share my experience of the event.


Editors note: This blog post has been written by me and the photos in it have been taken by me. I was kindly invited to attend the event as Press, and so was able to access the event without cost. The team at Portsmouth Guildhall and Guildhall Games Fest have note seen, edited or had approval over this post before posting.

I am currently only attending a small number of events, that are both interesting and relevant to myself and to my audience. If you believe your event could be of interest please email


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