London Gaming Market, November 2022: a round-up
Last weekend saw us return to the London Gaming Market.
It takes place at the National Hotel in Russell Square, London every four months. Traders from all over the country set up stalls to sell a variety of items including retro games, consoles, artwork and other merchandise. Going there always makes me feel like an excited kid because there are so many nostalgic things to look at.
Although we felt somewhat under-prepared for our visit to the last event in July, it was still a worthwhile trip. I managed to find a physical copy of 9: The Last Resort, a strange point-and-click I’d played in 1996 but hadn’t been able to finish. And Pete came away with a Mega Drive, after spotting a copy of Micro Machines from 1993 that he couldn’t resist.
The good thing about it (or problem, depending on how you look at the situation) is that you’ll never come away empty handed. After my first visit in 2018 when I came home with a copy of Simon the Sorcerer, I’ve since returned on multiple occasions to buy physical versions of old PC adventures, a PlayStation 2 and several games for it, and even a few pieces of artwork. My favourite purchase however is the most recent – I’ll explain what that was a little later.
What made this London Gaming Market different for us is that we had the company of a couple of special people this time. There’s nothing like wandering around the stalls for a couple of hours, finding boxes you remember from your childhood, and then having a long chat about retro gaming over a coffee. Read on to find out who these friends were and what was contained in the big box that Pete had to carry home on the train for me.
There’s nothing like wandering around the stalls, finding boxes you remember from your childhood and having a long chat about retro gaming.
I started thinking about getting a Commodore 64 a few months ago. It was the first gaming machine my family owned, and I remember playing Little Computer People with my brother in his bedroom when we were young. Finding both the computer and the game at the market last weekend was therefore lovely. My main reason for wanting one was to finally be able to finish creating The Island of Secrets, a game which appeared in one of the Usborne computing books, and there’ll be a post about this soon.
The first person who joined us at the London Gaming Market was Ethan. Due to COVID-19 and the way dates have fallen on the weekends recently, the last time my stepson came with us was over three years ago in 2019 so he was rather excited to be back there. He never seems to leave events like this without at least one piece of new artwork for his bedroom and now was no exception: the kid now has a The Legend of Zelda piece to go alongside his existing Streets of Rage picture by Cave of Pixels.
The second person we had the pleasure of being there with was Luke from Hundstrasse. It feels like it has been ages since we’ve seen him in person, so it was great being able to hang out again for a few hours. It’s obvious from his blog that Luke is no stranger to retro gaming and so he was in his element at the market, telling Ethan about the old games on the stalls and their history. He may have picked up a few purchases himself so perhaps you’ll hear about them soon on his new cohost site.
In my post about our last trip the London Gaming Market, I mentioned we felt we needed to be more prepared next time. One of the ways in which we did this was to buy £5 early entry tickets instead of paying £2 per person on the door. I’m not entirely convinced it’s worth it though unless you’re happy to get there an hour early to try to be first in the queue. We still had to spend around 30-minutes waiting outside, and the rooms didn’t really feel any less busy once we finally managed to get in.
I also mentioned that there seemed to be fewer stalls last time and this hadn’t changed for November’s outing. This is a good thing on one hand because it gives everyone more space to move around the crowded aisles but on the other, it does mean slightly less variety. The sellers have mostly done away with the t-shirts and merchandise and now favour physical games, consoles and controllers. That’s not necessarily an entirely negative point though as they’re the items most people come for.
On our way home, Ethan commented on how he thought the organisers should consider moving to a bigger venue. This was his reaction to seeing the large number of people inside the building and how difficult it was to get to the front of any of the stalls. It certainly seemed as though there were more attendees there than for the July event. If you’re thinking of going to the market, my advice would be to arrive after 14:00; you might miss out on some of the items but the crowd isn’t so overwhelming in the afternoon.
Although the first London Gaming Market of the year usually takes place in March, the dates for the 2023 events haven’t been announced just yet. What we’ve realised though is that we need to be even more prepared for the next one. Due to the number of people in attendance, it doesn’t really work to simply browse. I think it might be better to go in with an idea of the items you’re looking to find so you can concentrate on the right stalls and making your way through to the front of the table.
Along with tracking down an original copy of The Island of Secrets book if one is still out there, I’d like to start creating a collection of games for the Commodore 64. Besides Little Computer People, the one I remember most fondly was Bone Cruncher by Superior Software. It was about a character called Bono who collected bones from around the castle he lived in and turned them into soap for sea-monsters. The thing I remember most about it was music which sounded like Blue Monday by New Order.
Something we’d like to do one of these days is go to the Birmingham Gaming Market instead of immediately returning to London. Unfortunately, we already have plans for the next one on Sunday, 04 December 2022 so we’ll have schedule it for next year once the new dates are revealed. I’m not sure whether the change in location will affect the size of the event or how busy it gets, but it might be nice to do it in a change of venue. And who knows, we might even bump into Luke for doughnuts again.
Along with tracking down an original copy of The Island of Secrets book if one is still out there, I’d like to start creating a collection of games for the Commodore 64.
Having the pleasure of Ethan and Luke’s company meant I didn’t take so many photographs this time so there’s no gallery today sadly. But you can check out my post from the last event if you’d like to see what the London Gaming Market is like, and hopefully we’ll meet you there one day.