If this is your first year, you may well be looking for those people who share your interests. Be they such things as roleplay, LARP, boardgames, wargames, playing trading card games, computer gaming, paintball, lazer quest and so forth then you will find them in Gamesoc. SF novels, films and TV,and how these ideas impact into the real world, are interests shared by IFIS members.
However, you may also find that you will want to meet more people and share your interests in larger group activities. You may wish to follow up interests which are not sufficiently represented at college. or require large groups to enjoy. You may enjoy making friends who are not just college students (or ex-students like myself). You may simply want the opportunity to meet many other like-minded people. All these things can be obtained by going to conventions.
I started going to SF Cons only a few years ago, As students, you may find them both too pricey (about 45 pounds for a weekend), to do except as a rare treat, and rather daunting on your own. If you are interested, you will find that we are in a good spot here, as we are close enough (about 15 miles away) from some popular sites. This means that you can save on the cost of the hotel bills. Otherwise, you can add about 25 pounds a night!
Gaming Cons are inclined to be a bit smaller and cheaper, being generally simpler affairs. There are plenty of them around if you want to attend a few, and also games days held by various groups within the London area.
This is currently mn by the Roleplayers Gamers Association, and has genererally around 3000 attendees. If you enjoy Majic, there is the possibility to take part with a huge number of other players. Also, they run "competitive roleplaying" which is something a lot of people seem to enjoy. What I particularly enjoyed was taking part in several free-form live action roleplays. Also there is always the chance to sit down and play a new boardgame or join a short adventure. The huge trade hall also ensures that you don't come home with spare cash, unless you are very determined.
This was a small convention run in Cambridge. It involved roleplaying, boardgaming, free-form live action, and various panels. To get the best out of such an event, tum up with a few small games you love, and try them out on new players: they will do likewise.
Finding out about Conventions
Think of conventions. Are you thinking in terms of lots of conventional people getting together in a conventional way? Or are you thinking of like-minded (and generally UN-conventional) people and enjoying yourself? Its the latter, most definitely! How do you find out about them? What do they involve'? Where and when are they being held? What do they cost? With access to the intemet, it is much easier to discover about conventions than it used to be. If you don't know how to use the intemet, there are many people who will soon show you how. As a way of finding things out and keeping in touch, its well worth the effort.
For SF cons, try http://www.smof.com/conlist.htm.
For wargames events, try http://www.battlegames.co.uk/html/shows.htm.
We are also running our own gaming convention. This is the second year we are organising this for external people. I am the convention secretary, and as such am responsible for the initial organisation. I would be most appreciative of some help. be it once off, on a regular basis, or just to share ideas. If you think you can contribute something, be it games, roleplay modules, wargames, interesting speakers, or just willing serfs to do the boring bits, get in touch. Even better, if you have some wonderful idea that we haven't thought of ? come find us, tell us, and you could be a star.
We have been publicised at Gencon, Baroquon, Colours and far and wide by word of mouth. More work in putting out leaflets will be appreciated. This can be combined with extending our contacts with the various groups, attending and sharing publicity with other conventions large and small, and going round the gaming shops in London and other towns. If this is well organised, these can be fun too. Maybe you have a circle of gamers at home. Tell them, please. The convention itself will be centred around roleplaying, boardgaming and (if we can find enough enthusiastic amateur dramatists) live roleplaying, as well as some wargaming and military strategy games.
There is a strong level of interest locally in these things with past members, which will mean some lively debates at the panels. Last year James Wallis of Hogshead Publishing was made to talk at great length on all sorts of fascinating tales of woe. Paul Strong will, I'm sure be willing to give us some talks on his vast knowledge of history, and we can all pile in with our opinions. At the moment, I can only spread rumours of a guest, as she has been very ill, and cannot promise anything. We will be looking for industry guests who know their stuff, rather than pricey actors. If you want those, we could have half a dozen, and the costs to go with it. Fortunately for us, you don't need money to run a con, you need enthusiasm and a bit of organisation.
Looking at the divide between roleplay and acting, that is something several of us would love to explore. The Blair Witch Project has made this a hot topic, and blown away some Hollywood myths. We are intending to show this film, and are looking into getting some of the people involved to come and help out with a workshop or talk. Some live roleplaying is free?form acting, allowing you the chance to dress up and indulge in your best dramatic skills. Other forms are more physical combat, with rubber swords and the chance to indulge in some combat. Both of these activities need large groups, and I hope that some of this can be organised both at Killercon, and also as activities organised in conjuction with the existing groups which enjoy these activities. I certainly enjoyed playing in several free-form LARPs at Gencon and Baroquon, and would love to do more.
Last year we placed Royal Holloway Gamesoc on the convention map ? this year we are aiming to be one of the best small conventions in the country. You can be a part of that. As they say: "Don't just talk about it- get up and do it."
Fantasy Centre 157 Holloway Road, Holloway Road tube.
I would highly reccomend this shop if you love SF and fantasy as much as I do. Its a reasonable sized shop stuffed full of good condition second-hand books at a fair price (2-3 pounds, generally). Recommended as one of the best selections of second?hand SF in the country.
At The Sign Of The Dragon 131 Sheen Lane, SW14 Mortlake
Murder One 71 Chaiing Cross Rd. Leicester Square tube.
There is SF in the basement, plus a small bookcase of second?hand books. There is also a good number of second?hand bookshops within easy walking distance.
Forbidden Planet 71 New Oxford St.
Comics,T-shirts and pins at street level; SF books, posters DVDs and videos in the basement.
Just round the corner from Tottenham Court Road, and both within a short walk of Murder One and Forbidden Planet, are two shops selling roleplaying manuals, board games, dice and so forth:
Orc's Nest, 6 Earlham Street Playin' Games 33 Museum Street.
Leisure Games 91 Ballards Lane, Finchley, London, N3 1XY
This is London's finest gamers shop filled with Roleplay Games, Wargames, Board Games, Card Games Esdevium Games These were responsible for the best-organised games section of Gencon. They have a shop at 6 Wellington Street, Aldershot, Hampshire, which is close enough for a trip. Games Workshop specialise in Warhammer stuff these days, so a visit to Staines will cover this. Alternatively, there is a small general games shop very near to the Games Workshop in Kingston. Its very good, but opens rather when the owners get up, so a morning visit is not recommended. There is also a shop called Games Castle, in 2 Castle Street, Kingston, though I don't know it
Some more shops I intend to check out when I am next in the area are
A Place in Space 101 Church street, Croyden.
Antics in 89e Woodbridge Road
Avatar Games and Comics in 64b Chertsey Street,
both in Guildford