Monday, 29 August 2016

A Day at ShemFest.

First off I must apologize as this post is a day late because even though I am almost in my forties, I cannot handle hangovers very well and spent most of yesterday dealing with it. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time at the event but my god did I pay for it. As for the event itself? Me and those of us who attended had an excellent time and I must congratulate Shemmie and Mike for what was a well organized and fun occasion, aside from some technical hiccups with the live streams that were hosted at the end (but I believe that was down to the venue) the atmosphere was that of fun.

I met up with a couple of other attendees in Birmingham train station and we made our way down to the venue, the street that led to it literally looked like a set from the Walking Dead series and was hauntingly empty, I did wonder at one point if we were going to get jumped as we progressed down it. We reached the venue and met many familiar faces and sure enough, the conversations and drinks were flowing as well as the retro gaming was well underway. This was where I was caught by surprise because I was expecting to see a bunch of retro consoles with the monitors but instead, we had a bunch of Rasberry Pi computers filled with emulators of these wonderful games many of us had grown up with along with some SNES style controllers, small PC monitors, and a small speaker for each. It was an awesome setup and I promised myself I would have to get one and ram it full of games, it will save me a shit ton of money compared to buying the old consoles themselves and hunting down the games.
One of the best parts for me was meeting Kate Russell.
Miss Russell is a tech journalist and works for the BBC, appearing on the tech program Click and on the ITV program Daybreak. She has written the book Working the Cloud, another book, Elite Dangerous: Mostly Harmless and has had columns published in National Geographic Traveller. I was expecting her to show up part way through the event and give her talk but as I was playing a game of Cards against Humanity (which Shemmie won) I realized she was sitting opposite me. She was wearing a denim skirt and a very cool comic book style T-shirt and I shook hands with her and was quite surprised and delighted when I realized that it was her. To say she was a lovely and pleasant person is putting it mildly and talking with her was not only lovely but also quite enlightening as she told me about being at E3 and playing builds of approaching games like Sea of Thieves. I only mention what she was wearing because I was stupidly expecting her to show up in a suit or something like that to give her talk due to where she worked but that brought me to a wonderful realization:
She was one of us gamers.

That photo was taken after her talk which was a joy to listen to as she happily spoke about her career and took questions from the crowd, finishing off with how being at the event was her idea of fun. It was also taken after the gaming tournament which took place where we all played Sensible World of Soccer. I can't speak for the other players but I hadn't played the game for about twenty years and I couldn't shoot for shit, my first game I won 1-0, somehow, and came back to play against a really cool dude who gave me a run for my money. We played three games and drew each one, drawing 0-0, 1-1 and 0-0 again and as a result, we had to change the game to Mortal Kombat 2 so there could be no chance of a draw. I won that and the following game and was crowned Shemworld 2016 Champion, but I had to be honest that it was won with luck on my side some of the time. When I showed it to my kids the next day, they thought I was a gaming legend and as much as I tried to tell them that I got lucky in places, they didn't listen. I took pleasure from it though I must admit, any father out there who reads this probably knows what I'm talking about as it's nice to thought of as a hero by your children.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Allum Bokhari, known to many of us as a writer and co-editor for Breitbart Tech. I was a fan of his writing and introduced myself to him and found him to be a warm gentleman and someone who was quite happy to have a conversation with a stranger like myself. Much later on when we were all out drinking he even brought me my first drink (he got it as part of an offer but hey) and we all hung out and talked part of the night away before I checked myself out due to slight drunkenness and tiredness setting in. As I wrote earlier I am almost 40 and evidently I cannot handle my drink like I used to and the hangover was horrible the next day, when I told a friend what I had in particular what I had been drinking, like Desperados, he cringed and said "WHY would you be drinking that stuff?" Good question.

All in all, I had a great time. It is always fun to meet up with people year after year, celebrate this thing we all took part in together and continue to maintain our own community and network, I personally have formed many friendships with people over these last two years and long may it continue. I have drifted away from games and as I have written before, I speak up on the situation in comics and at the event, there were people there, like the wonderful Doc and Homebuck, who agreed with me on the whole thing. This will be an ongoing battle for many of us, we will always be there to speak up against this crap where ever it may surface, be it in comics, games or in movies and my involvement in this had been such a pleasure due to the people I have met at events like this.
Job well done, Shemmie and Mike, job well done.

I can only wonder what Five Guys must think of all this, I'm sure they must have made a fortune over the last couple of years.

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