Interview with Tom Champion : EuroGamer Expo

expo-whiteInterview With Tom Champion by ItsMuchMore when were known as Start2Select.

Tom Champion the Community Manager of the EuroGamer Expo takes time out of his busy schedule to speak James and Daniel Jarvis plus Kristian Lander from start2select about plans for this years EuroGamer Expo which is only days away questions such as most memorable moments of the Expo as a whole, start2select have attended the EuroGamer Expo’s for the past three years back then known as UKRockers and will plan to each and every year from now on without fail.

James) The EuroGamer Expo is now celebrating its fourth successful year will you be planning on expanding the Expo to more cities other then London, as like the joint Leeds venture in 2009, or will you continue to stay in the capital, at the impressive Earls Court?

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Tom) We really enjoyed putting on the event in Leeds back in 2009 but there were good reasons why we chose not to return and I don’t think any of those reasons have really changed. At the moment we’re happy concentrating on a single event in London and I don’t see that changing for the moment although I’d certainly enjoy putting on a show outside London.

Kristian) One thing we’ve seen is the rise of competitive play. Has gaming evolved also to become a sport?  Do you see time when it could be competed on stage like an Olympics?

Tom) I think you could make that argument, certainly the number of professional gamers seems to be growing as do the number of competitive events. We’re hosting the UK qualifiers of the World Cyber Games this year owned by Samsung. It’s another indication that competitive gaming is continuing to grow.

Daniel) Brink, Gears of War 3, M.A.G and Left 4 Dead 2 to name a few have all been at EuroGamer Expo. My most memorable moment out of the Expo’s has been when I was playing Left 4 Dead 2 on one of the pod’s in the over 18 area and standing right next to me was a guy dressed up as ‘Bill’ from Left 4 Dead so I had to have a double take then I got pounced on by a hunter, (While carrying the gas can – damn you!) What has been your most memorable moment of the EuroGamer Expo?

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Tom) This will be my third expo and I have fond memories from all of them. One of the biggest highlights for me was opening the doors on the first day in Leeds in 2009. It was the first event I’d been involved in and we’d all worked really hard. Seeing the doors open and people enjoying themselves was brilliant.

Some of my memories are less enjoyable though, for instance, the fire alarm going off at Billingsgate in 09 and an overnight flood in Earls Court last year that threatened to wash away Microsoft’s Kinect stand.

James) With GamesCom just finished in Germany and GAMEfest taking part in the Birmingham, UK in a matter of days plus the vast amount of gaming Expo’s taking place across the rest of the world what makes the EuroGamer Expo different from the rest?

Tom) What separates us from trade shows like Gamescom and E3 is the fact that we’re a consumer show. We’re geared up to show ordinary gamers the latest pre-release games. We’re all about being as inclusive as possible, trade shows tend to be aimed at games journalists and other industry types.

I think that what separates us from other consumer events is the number of additional features we have – the indie arcade, the career fair, developer sessions, retro area, tournament zone – all great features and all included in the price of a £10 ticket.

James) The Amstrad CPC 464 was my first home computer then moving onto the Sega Master System when the consoles took off. What was your first home computer and what was your favourite game on that platform?

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Tom) My first computer was a Spectrum 48k and the first games I really remember playing were Atic Atac and Pssst. I also have fond memories of the Master System as I owned one when all of my friends had Megadrives!

Kristian) How do you feel about the decline in the arcade industry which once was so strong? On the info that the UK’s once largest arcade closed this week. (Funland: Former SegaWorld London)

Tom) I feel sad about the demise of the classic arcade. I used to get really excited about walking into an arcade and playing games like Final Fight but I guess that they became obsolete as soon as home consoles began to offer graphic capabilities on par with arcades. It’s a shame when you visit an arcade now and they still have games like Daytona as their key attractions. Daytona is more than 15 years old!

Kristian) Taking about the social dynamic , firstly getting together at the arcade, to having a bunch playing Street Fighter 2 passing the controller , Xbox Live and so on , being social is very key to gamers. Has that influenced how EuroGamer Expo came into fruition?

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Tom) Definitely! Although the expo side of the company only started in 2008, Eurogamer has been going since 1999 and was founded by two brothers, Rupert and Nick Loman. They were very keen gamers and used to put on LAN events where they’d get loads of people together to play networked games of Quake. Being social and putting on events is definitely in Eurogamer’s DNA.

Daniel) We have to throw in the obvious question. Throughout the gaming history if there was one game that you wished that you made, or even just a part of, for example you were the person that wanted to make Links clothes green, Sonic as a hedgehog, or Mario wearing a red hat, what would it be?

Tom) Elite. It was a game that was revolutionary in many ways in particular graphically but also because of its free roaming, open ended nature.

dsc08915Daniel) There was some really big news which spread like wildfire across the internet when EuroGamer Expo announced it across twitter at midnight the fact that OnLive will be coming to the Expo this year, along with the opportunity for some lucky attendees to grab a piece of the kit for free. This is the UK first for OnLive, and something to really shout home about. How happy were you to announce this to the world and what do you think of the OnLive hardware itself?

Tom) We’re really thrilled that OnLive have chosen the expo to launch the system in the UK. I’ve tried it out and it really is an impressive piece of kit. It’s great that so many people will get to try it out and also walk away with a free version to take home. Cloud gaming has got to be the future so I’m looking forward to people trying it out themselves at the expo.

Kristian) Last quick question Tom, and we will let you get back to organizing another successful EuroGamer Expo. How do you feel the gaming / entertainment industry has changed over the last 10 years? Likewise what strides do you it making in the next decade?

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Tom) I think we’ve seen gaming take great strides in the last decade. Sales of games like CoD are staggering but I think, more important, is the resurrection of the bedroom coder. With iOS, XBLA and the Xbox indie channel, it’s now perfectly possible for teams of one or two to produce compelling, innovative games that sell in large numbers. It’s like the eighties all over again!

Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us at start2select Tom, we wish you the best of luck with this year EuroGamer Expo which is due to take place at Earls Court, London 22nd – 25th September start2select members will be attending on Friday 23rd September, for more information on the Expo please visit expo.eurogamer.net

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