It’s been a while since I went to the London Gaming Market.
I’ve found a few gems there in the past. At my first event in July 2018 where I bought the original Simon the Sorcerer, I returned the following March for a PlayStation 2 and several games including ICO. Then in July 2019, I grabbed a few more titles and was pleased to find Herdy Gerdy (I’ll write about it one day).
That was the last time we were able to attend due to COVID. The market returned after the lockdowns in July 2021 and plans were made to meet Luke from Hundstrasse there for a coffee and a catch-up. But after keeping an eye on the situation and realising we weren’t yet comfortable with returning to the crowds, we decided to be sensible and postpone.
The London Gaming Market kind of fell off our radar after that. This wasn’t for any negative reason because we’d always had a good time there before; but it’s a much smaller event without much publicity, and it can easily get lost between the larger expos and adult responsibilities. Last Saturday though, I saw an Instagram post by an artist who was going to be there the following day and it seemed like a great time for another visit.
Pete and I jumped on a train to Russell Square on Sunday morning and made our way to the Royal National Hotel. Many other people had obviously had the same idea as it was the first time we’d seen a queue outside the venue. But with the sun shining and the promise of stalls full of retro items waiting inside, nobody seemed to mind too much and everyone there was in good spirits.
We realised it would be sensible to leave, before we ended up clearing our bank accounts and having too many bags to comfortably carry home on the train.
We hadn’t arrived with any kind of plan this time and therefore weren’t on the hunt for anything specific, so we were happy to wander around the hall and browse. That was until I found a stall selling old PC adventure games and had to push my way in. After finding an original copy of The Secret of Monkey Island at a vintage and collectables store the previous day, I couldn’t resist purchasing 9: The Last Resort. I had this title when it released back in September 1996 but was never able to finish it, and it’s rather unique.
I wasn’t the only one who had something catch their eye at the event. After coming across a copy of Micro Machines from July 1993 and being reminded of how much he enjoyed playing it with his brother when they were kids, Pete tracked down a Mega Drive from Console Passion. We were tempted to continue the search for more old games – but then realised it would be more sensible to leave, before we ended up clearing out our bank accounts and having too many bags to comfortably carry home on the train.
Although we managed to find some items we were really excited about, we did notice fewer stalls at the event. This was great on one hand because it gave more space to move around the crowded aisles but it meant less variety on the other. Gone were the t-shirts, artwork and board games as the sellers in attendance now concentrated on physical games, consoles and controllers. This wasn’t entirely a bad thing however because those objects are exactly what you expect from the London Gaming Market.
There may have been slightly fewer people there this time too but that doesn’t mean it was any easier to get to the stands. It’s particularly difficult when you’re short like me: you can’t see over everyone’s shoulders, it’s tough to push your way through the crowd in front of a table and then even tougher to get back out again. That’s not to say that fellow attendees are rude though! It’s just that everyone is so eager to get their hands on the titles they’ve been searching for and you can feel the anticipation in the room.
It’s better to go with a list of items you’re looking for and concentrate on finding those, as it’s difficult to simply ‘browse’ when there are so many eager people.
Our visit on Sunday made us realise that we need to be more prepared if we go to the next event on 13 November 2022. It’s definitely better to go with a list of items you’re looking for and concentrate on finding those, as it’s difficult to simply ‘browse’ when there are so many eager people in the same hall. Pete intends to start searching through a catalogue of Mega Drive titles to pick out those he’d like to track down and I’d be keen on increasing my physical collection of old PC point-and-clicks.
We’ve been putting off returning to streaming because it’s difficult to see how we’d fit this in right now. We’ve both seen an increase in work projects so there have been more late nights to meet deadlines, and I need to get a handle on my apprenticeship objectives before adding anything else to my schedule. But it’s something we’d like to do in the future. And it would be fun to have a retro backlog to select games from – which is a good reason to keep going to the London Gaming Market.
Do let us know if you’re planning on going to the next event in November and maybe we can have a chat over a coffee. In the meantime, a small selection of photographs from last weekend’s market can be found below.