It only seems like yesterday that I was attending my first AireCon up in Harrogate. Having the opportunity to meet many new people and enjoy three days of uninterrupted gaming! Well, with just under two months to go until this year’s event, I thought I would run through my experience of AireCon and give you an idea of what to expect from this great event.
What is AireCon?
This will be AireCon’s 6th public event, running from the 13th to the 15th march in Harrogate Convention Centre. The first public AireCon was held in Bradford back in April 2016, the brainchild of Mark Cooke. He had come up with the idea for a convention while his wife was away on a hen weekend. Held in Mark’s flat, he organised the first event with a few friends and AireCon was born. While this first event was a private convention. It didn’t take long for AireCon to develop into an incredibly popular convention. With a 40% growth in unique visitors last year.
One of the big draws I feel for the convention, is the focus on gaming rather on trade and sales. Don’t fret, there are trade stands and an expertly run Bring and Buy there, but the real reason AireCon began was to give people an opportunity to meet new people and dedicate a weekend to pure, uninterrupted gaming, something I am sure some of us struggle to do from time to time.
What does it offer?
AireCon will provide you the opportunity to try out all sorts of new games, as well giving you the chance to play your favourites! Don’t worry if you can’t bring your own games either as there is a great games library as well, where you pay a deposit and this gives you access to a massive assortment of games, where there will certainly be something to suit your tastes!
I went along last year with a few games from my collection and I didn’t manage to get any to the table while there and in a way that was a great thing! All the games I played were completely new to me and enriched my experience while there, while also getting the chance to chat to lots of different people there! AireCon is all about the gaming and that was evident throughout the event!
Alongside the gaming, there is of course the various trade stands where you will be able to buy all the latest releases etc. as well as a Bring and Buy area that is run like a military operation and worked incredibly well for me in my experience. Those that are familiar with the UKGE Bring and Buy know that it can be a free-for-all at times but the experience at AireCon was quite pleasant and easy.
You will also find plenty of demo tables to try new releases as well as an RPG zone and a playtesting area for creators. You will definitely find something that will take your fancy and something you will enjoy. There was certainly never a lack of space either, with plenty of tables available to pitch up and start playing. They run a great little system with flags and balloons, which show if a group need an extra player as well as stickers which people can wear to show they want to join in on a game.
How did I find my first AireCon?
All of this culminated into a fantastic experience for myself. Having never been before, I didn’t know what to expect and as such, I went in with no plan and an open mind and I’m so glad I did it that way. If you try and plan out too much, you’ll find yourself being constrained and you won’t have the freedom to float around and join in on something you perhaps wouldn’t normally play. I would strongly suggest to anyone that going without a plan or schedule is the best thing to do. Keep your mind open and enjoy the organic moments that you definitely stumble into while there.
Every single person I met was so friendly and accommodating and this reflects on the hobby for me. As a community, we are an incredibly friendly bunch and it’s amazing meeting so many different people from different walks of life, all with one thing in common. On top of that, having the opportunity to game together and do something you all love for a whole weekend is certainly a bonus!
I am thoroughly looking forward to AireCon this year. I cannot wait to dedicate three days to the hobby I love, with friends both new and old! Let us know if you are going to be attending and pop by our exhibitor stand to say hi! This is Zatu's first Airecon and we're a major sponsor!