Late August every year brings an event in England that brings gamers from all over the world. Multiplay’s Insomnia festival. (Sometimes shortened to iseries, Lan or the number of the event it is, in my case, i55) It’s Englands biggest gaming festival, sponsered by Game, Scan Computers and Funky collectables, i55 and most of the recent iseries have been hosted in Coventry in the Ricoh Arena. Insomnia festival has 3 dates all around the year. Spring Lan (Usually held in March/April) Summer lan (Held in August) and Winter lan (Usually held in Nov). The biggest event to date is the summer lan, since that’s the most popular. Especially for those who are camping!
Arriving is one of the most anticipated things, seeing everyone there, queuing, knowing they’re in for the same weekend as everyone else. A weekend of none stop gaming, and gaming related activities.
Multiplay pride themselves on having lots to do at the insomnia events, these include but aren’t limited to talks, meet and greets with youtubers (Such as Syndicate, Yogscast, Noxcrew and Sidemen) the various tents containing things to do, such as the retro and tabletop gaming zone, the exhibition hall with everyone involved with gaming there. Scan, GAME, Occulus, Razer, Corsair and more!
The retro gaming zone was one of the more popular places for me, with consoles right from the dreamcast (maybe even earlier) right up to the new ones, there was something for everyone. The place was awash with people of all ages enjoying the oldest games. Mario Kart (one of my favourites!) was left abandoned, so I felt the need to go and show my skills at that!
It was so nice to see everyone having a good time, playfully trying to beat their friends and family, or joining in on co-op games. The tabletop gaming zone was also next to the gaming zone. This was a wide range of board games and card games, including Yi Gi Oh and Magic: The Gathering. Not only were people on hand to teach those who wanted to learn, there were places to buy decks, boosters and new cards so you could make your decks the best there was. Lots of people were helping others understand the game they’d brought, there was no elitism, just friends helping friends.
In the same tent as the retro zone, there was the Indie Zone. Where Indie developers can come and showcase the games they’ve been working on. You can have a go, chat to them about the game and try and beat high scores. A lot of developers were offer prizes for the people who got the best high score of the weekend.
I decided to try a deceptively easy looking game. Moving a ball through a tunnell with slow moving objects rotating around the edge. Seriously addicting stuff. I must have spent about half an hour here before getting majorly annoyed at myself for being unable to beat the game. My friend also decided to have a go at the game when I was talking to the developer about his inspiration and where he wants to go with it. We were there for another half an hour while my friend decided he had to try and beat my score. As far as I’m aware, the game is going to be on Steam and people can buy it and play it coming soon.
The Lan hall is where I spent a lot of my time, as with any gaming festival. Thankfully I met a lot of nice new friends. The friends I had arrived with decided that we wanted to enter the League of Legends tournament. However, we didn’t have 5 people. We went running around the lan hall asking anyone and everyone if they wanted to join our team for the fun of it. Thankfully, we managed to find more people, and to this day now, we still talk and play together.
The atmosphere at a place like this is one that can’t be easily described. There is no shouting, no bullying and no laughing at each other like there is for us gamers on a daily basis. Everyone is there to enjoy the world of video gaming. People are walking round with League of Legends hats, One Piece hats, Splatoon hats and a wide range of gaming related t-shirts and cosplays.
This year, I found I saw a bit too much of the same thing being sold. In the exhibition hall, no matter what stall you went to, you saw the same upgrades and mods for your computer. I also felt that there was too much of a presence from GAME. They dominated the middle of the hall so you knew exactly who was in charge of what. The last insomnia I went to, there was more variety and more to do. Insomnia55 felt like there wasn’t as many new game demos to try, and not as many things to see and do in the exhibition hall. This may be down to the fact that the Ricoh was pushed for space. Razer didn’t have a stall there this year, which I was sadly disapointed by. They had their Razer Bus, which is always a feat and a half to see (I always wonder how they get it in there!) There were still things like Occulus to try, and another Virtual Reality compay called Merge were there, asking for people to try their new VRheadset. They also had a competition running for someone to win a Virtual Reality pair of goggles.
You could easily spend a good couple of hours in the exhibition hall. Where as I don’t think there was as much to do in summer lan of 2014, (i52) there was still plenty of games to play, including Nintendo’s Splatoon, Counter strike games and others dotted around the place.
One of the best things about Insomnia is the big, epic pub quiz. It’s world famous and it’s on the Saturday night. Every year there is a different dress code. You can fancy dress to your hearts content. This years theme was “cops and robbers”. so many people decided they were going to put this theme to good use. I saw many a guy dressed in the standard black and white jail time uniform, and many people dressed as bloody police officers, as well as one lone guy dressed as Officer Caitlyn from League of Legends. All in good fun! Since the quiz is on the Saturday, you’ve got time for your team to brush up on their knowledge of everything. A lot of people seem to think that because you’re at a gaming festival, the quiz would be entirely game based. It isn’t! It’s actually got a lot of different genre questions. I’d go as far to say that it’s general knowledge. A lot of history, music and geography questions were thrown in, as well as the obvious gaming ones.
At the end of the quiz, some epic songs that everyone knows and loves are played. Including Queen’s Bohemian Rapsody and Journeys Don’t Stop Believin’. The atmosphere during these songs are amazing. Everyone singing, dancing, jumping and joining in. Everyone is happy, enjoying themselves and around like minded people. The whole point of the quiz is to raise money for charity, so most teams end up donating their prize money to the charity, instead of keeping it for themselves.
All in all, Insomnia gaming festival is one of the best experiences of my life. It’s the one place on earth that you’re always around like minded people and have no fear of being insulted, degraded or treated like crap. The mutual respect of this place is astounding. The effort, time and energy put into arranging this event is just mind blowing. So many people dedicate their time to ensuring that gamers have the best time, and it really does show.
As of December 2015, Insomnia isn’t going to be held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry though, since we’ve outgrown the Ricoh (Which you really could tell this year! They had to make 1000 extra gaming seats by making a lan tent on the car park) we’re moving to the Birmingham NEC. So this is going to be an exciting time for those who follow the event around the place. I, for one am really excited about the move. Not only are we going to be getting indoor camping, but there is going to be a lot more space for the exhibition hall and the lan halls, which means more gamers and more new friends to meet! I’ll never forget the LANs I have attended at the Ricoh, but it’s time for change…
Dreamhack and GamesCon… We’re coming for you!! – Wizzo, Insomnia55, 2015.
Onwards and upwards as they say!
About the Writer:
Sarah is Blast Away the Game Review’s U.K. writer and absolute goofball who covers almost anything MMO or Online related whether it’s for PC or Nintendo based products. Her passion lay heavily within Nintendo, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and League of Legends. Oh, and picking wonderfully bloomed flowers in Animal Crossing: A New Leaf! Want to hit her up? Follow her on twitter with @SarahGibson91. Got Steam? Hit her up over at SarahMonstarr or hit her streaming page up here on Facebook over at www.facebook.com/sarahsstream