WASD. You know. The 4 keys that PC gamers use for movement.
For the uninitiated, WASD is a gaming event with a whole lot to offer those who play games and who work in games. Here, you can get hands on experience with the latest games and tech, as well as attend career events and live shows.
As with other conventions, I’d recommend booking on to the full three days to get the most of everything on offer. But even with three days, I still wasn’t able to do everything I wanted.
If this has piqued your interest, here is a rundown of everything that WASD has to offer for gamers and video game professionals of all levels!
They’ve got lots of them! As a gamer, WASD is a veritable paradise, filled with new or not yet released games to get your hands on. Walking around the venue and seeing all the gaming booths, it’s hard to know where to start. If you’ve done your research beforehand, there may be games that you know you’re going to check out. But, part of the beauty of WASD is in walking about trying games you wouldn’t usually consider. Even the most well-informed are likely to discover new games and new studios. Here are just a few discoveries I made on my wanderings:
- Alien Hominid Invasion (The Behemoth). A chaotic side scrolling shooter where you are an alien tasked with invading Earth.
- Justice League: Cosmic Chaos (Outright Games). A family friendly action brawler inspired by DC Comics. You play as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in a zany adventure filled with humour and charm.
- ViewFinder (Sad Owl Studios). A first-person puzzler where you use photos and pictures to reshape the world around you.
- Anger Foot (Devolver Digital). A bonkers and intense first person shooter where your kicking foot is just as deadly as your gun!
- The Kraken Wakes (Charisma). A fascinating game based on a novel of the same name by John Wyndham. The game features advanced conversation mechanics allowing you to interact with the game's NPCs. This can be done through typing responses or even by talking into a microphone. What you say will influence the characters’ actions and emotions as well as the wider story.
- Street Fighter 6 (Capcom). The latest iteration of this successful fighting series is due to come out June 2023. There was a lot of excitement from players getting to play it ahead of time, engaging in tournaments with their fellow fans.
You can also talk to the staff and volunteers who run the stalls. While you're at it, you may get some free merchandise and even talk to some of the developers.
As well as the games themselves, it was also great to see what new innovations are arising in the world of gaming.
For instance, I got to have some time playing games on the new Playstation VR 2 headset. I enjoyed the physics of the game, Tentacular (from Devolver Digital). Here, you play as a giant octopus using its grabby tentacles to complete physics based challenges. I was mind blown to discover the innovation that the PSVR2 can track your eye movement instead of using controller sticks.
As fun as that was, I was even more excited to talk to the staff and volunteers at Special Effect. Special Effect is a charity dedicated to making video games accessible for all. I got to try their accessible controllers that used large, easy to use buttons and a joystick for movement. They even had a controller that could be manipulated by your chin! It was inspiring to see how these innovations were being used to improve lives and help make the magic of video games more accessible for everyone.
In my wanderings, I was pleasantly surprised to find that WASD, despite its video game focus, had a Tabletop Zone run by Wargamer. At their hangout area, you can borrow games and tables, paint minis and take part in TTRPG sessions run by their staff!
Whilst I loved sampling the many video game demos on offer, the Wargamer area provided a more social experience. No need for head phones whilst sampling their games. Instead, you can play games that allow you to interact with fellow gamers and make new friends.
It’s not quite a tabletop game, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the Loading Bar were there and they had put a game on a beer can! Their Win or Booze Playable Ale allows you to peel back the label to reveal game that can be played with 2 or more players and a six-sided dice. There were three available games on these labels, but I ended up with The Crate Escape. This game has you and fellow players as cans of beer trying to escape a bar without getting drunk. It proved to be a lot of fun, and the beer was pretty good too!
It wasn't just game developers that had stalls. There was also a careers area run by Into Games featuring university and employer stalls. There, you could get advice about developing a career in games and even have your portfolio reviewed.
If you are a student already developing games, you also have the opportunity to showcase your work to potential employers. Make sure you get in touch through your university to secure this opportunity.
There are also many career talks available for everyone at the Career Stage. These range from what are the most sought-after skills in the games industry to how to publish your first game on a shoestring budget. I’d definitely recommend taking the time to look at the Career Stage schedule beforehand. That way, you can make sure you make time for the talks you’re especially interested in.
That’s right, WASD also has a complement of live shows available! You can find out all about them in advance on their website. Some of these shows are in the evening, and require an extra ticket, so make sure you do your planning beforehand.
This year, we were treated to YouTuber, Jesse Cox, and a live show of his hilarious series, Scary Game Squad. Him and his co-hosts made us roar with laughter as they played horror games for our amusement!
As a big fan of the party games of Jackbox, I was very keen to check out the live party panel with a host of hilarious content creators. Unfortunately I had a bus to catch so was unable to see it in the end. Like I said, check out the shows on the website in advance before making other plans. Don’t be like me!
As an introvert with social anxiety, having the courage and presence of mind to approach people I don't know can be challenging. That said, doing so at events like this have also been very rewarding. One of the joys of events like WASD is that you’re surrounded by people with similar interests. This means there’s always something you can connect over. Also, part of the benefit of getting a 3-day ticket was that I had time to warm up and get used to making these kind of connections.
As mentioned before, there are also so many industry professionals and content creators at these events that you’ll have a chance to chat to. I get how nerve-wracking it can be approaching people you follow but who have no idea who you are. But, it is generally appreciated having someone come up to you and say they admire your work. In the case of developers, they may be actively wanting to talk to you to find out what you think about their games, so let ‘em have it!
There are also exclusive networking events for UKIE students, developers, exhibitors and press.
UKIE students can take part in the UKIE Student Conference for free, thanks to Epic Games. They can do this either by getting a direct email invite or by contacting their faculty. This conference is also streamed for anyone who can’t make it in person.
Developers can book tickets to the London Development Conference. This features a schedule of talks about games industry excellence and wider applications of games in society. These tickets will also get you access to an exclusive after party!
If you want to exhibit a game, you can apply for a free ticket and a booth. This will also get you access to the Press Area, Business Lounge and that exclusive afterparty!
Finally, anyone who is a content creator can apply to get on the Neonhive Creator Lounge. Successful applicants will get a free press pass for the weekend, as well as access to the Press Area and Business Lounge.
However you attend, there are always opportunities to chat make connections!
So that’s WASD in a nutshell! Bare in mind, this is only the second ever WASD, so there may well be even more on offer in the future. I hope this has given you a taste of what you can get out of your WASD experience. Maybe see you at an upcoming event sometime!