Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Is there any more depressing location than a Butlins holiday camp in November? Fortunately I was there for a purpose and so was able to ignore the general ‘blahness’ of the place.

This last weekend saw several hundred geeks descend upon Butlins Bognor Regis for GenCon UK 2005. As the camp was open to the plebs as well (it being Bonfire Night Weekend) the place was very full. We had managed to book a silver grade chalet, which was ok, but nothing to write home about. The door to the ‘kids’ room didn’t close properly because the leg of one of the beds stuck into the doorway, and the door to the bathroom didn’t close properly because the carpet in the hallway had been fitted too close, niiiiice. Fortunately (since I was sharing with 3 blokes) it closed enough for modesties sake.

The Con itself wasn’t as good as last years. There had been a very large increase in the entrance fee for this year, and they had included several generic event tickets in the cost of entrance. However many people (myself included) go for the social aspect of the event more than the organised events and rightly objected to having to pay for event tickets that they wouldn’t use. I only went for the weekend and had 8 event tickets included, but I only used 3 of them. Since extra tickets cost £3 each, that’s £15 worth of tickets that I had to pay for, but didn’t use.

This price hike and enforced event ticket purchase meant that a lot of people simply didn’t go this year and the numbers were significantly lower than last year. Many people we met last year weren’t there, although we did see many others again. The only events I took part in were a demo of a new Loony Labs game called Just Desserts, an Uber Fluxx Tournament and a couple of evenings of Are You a Werewolf? Even the wrap party was a bit of a flop as they had booked the ‘club’ for the party only to discover that there was another party booked in as well. Gamer Geeks and Norms don’t mix very well under these conditions and although we managed a couple of games of Werewolf we ended up adjourning to the on-site pub, to get away from the loud music and bad comedian, so we could actually talk. There was an impromptu ‘geek-karaoke’ moment (a-la Waynes World) when Bohemian Rhapsody came on the jukebox but I think the other (non-geek) inhabitants of the pub took it in good humour, one or two of them even joined in.

We also had a ‘we’re at the seaside’ mad moment on the Sunday morning, but that deserves a blog entry all to itself, and there’s pictures and even a bit of film to go with it.

It was a good weekend, but unless they sort out the pricing problems for next year so that more people go, I’m not sure I’ll bother next year.