Not just about meeting dragons! Dragonmeet has new owners and a new venue – is it still relevant, interesting, fun?
Dragonmeet is London’s one-day games convention, and it’s been going since forever. I first went in 1983 or so, when it was run by Games Workshop, but before they’d become evil. More recently it was being run by Cubicle 7, and then this year (when it was on 6th December just now) for the first time by new owners, Modiphius.
We also had a new venue – the Ibis hotel near Earl’s Court. Which seemed pretty much OK – apparently there’d been trouble letting people in when it first opened in the morning, but by the time I trundled in it all seemed smooth enough. One of the seminar rooms was hopeless both in shape and in location, but that was kind of made up for by the presence of a full-scale pub on the premises.
I had the treat of a day with no responsibilities or things to organize, so I spent most of it just chatting and catching up with people. Which was terrific! Especially being able to introduce lovely friends to other lovely friends.
I did get to play one game – in the pub, One Night Ultimate Werewolf. It’s a version of the well-known Werewolf/Mafiya game where instead of people being progressively eliminated over several rounds, the whole game’s decided in just one round. I’d had doubts about whether this would be satisfying, but was impressed: it worked well, and removed all the tedious sitting about for eliminated people.
I also went to some seminars. First Pelgrane Press talking about their upcoming plans, which excitingly include publishing my favourite game When the Dark is Gone. It’s really terrific that a wee self-published role-playing game with a very progressive and thoughtful design can get picked up by the commercial sector of the hobby.
And Becky Annison who wrote WtDiG was speaking at the next seminar I went to, together with Anita Murray and chaired by Cat Tobin, about Disobedient Game Design. This topic was inspired by the V&A exhibition earlier this year about disobedient objects – items that had been subverted or repurposed so as to work against the structures that had produced them. In game design terms it’s about games that challenge structural and hierarchical expectations both in the culture of the game itself and also in larger society. So anything from the way that GMless games empower players to the way that games like Dog Eat Dog or Steal Away Jordan act as a lens for the bottom-up examination of top-down aspects of society. Fantastic speakers, discussing some really interesting stuff; and it could have used a lot longer.
Finally another panel, about What’s Hot in Indie Story Games, organized by the London Indiemeet folk. Six great people talking about the games that had interested and excited them in 2014, how to get a game, and the trends that had emerged. There was a handout for this, so I expect it’s online somewhere too: I’ll post here if I find it. [Edited to add: here’s a general handout about great indie games and the London group in particular (PDF), and here’s the review of 2014 (PDF). Thanks for the links, Richard!]
Well, I had a great time at Dragonmeet, but to be honest I only interacted with about 10% of the organized stuff that was going on. So I might not be the best witness. There seemed to be a nice friendly vibe going around, though (and not just in the pub), so I feel pretty optimistic about it. Come along yourself next year!