Liverpool Gaming Festival Review

Saturday nights out; I remember them. Before I’d even set foot in town, I’d be at queuing at the barbers for a spruce. And, with hair quaffed and trousers freshly pressed, I’d join the throng of likeminded teens for a one way train ticket to the city centre. Piling off the train we’d then queue to gain entry to any club that turned a blind eye to my clearly fake I.D.

When in, we’d queue for overpriced drinks in a strobed rooms with sticky floors. The music would be turned up to ‘deafening’ so I’d not be able to catch a conversation until we’re queuing for the taxi that never comes. Queue, queue, queue.

Yes, alongside the fake I.D. and the need for a haircut, I gave up on these nights long ago.

These days, ‘in’ is the new ‘out’ where the beer is cheap, food is good and the only queue that’s experienced is that of the occasional Q-Bert.

But for all the hassle and haircuts we went through, we did it because, despite the queue for soggy kebabs at 3am, those infamous nights are the stuff of legend between friends. They’re the building blocks that make lasting relationships and provide stories on which you reminisce whilst ‘finishing him’ in Killer Instinct.

I’ve never really been tempted to go out, I mean, properly ‘out-out’ again… until recently.

Let me ask you, when have you been able to find your favourite arcade cabinets at a nightclub? Or been able to challenge your friends to a round of Street Fighter at your favourite wine bar? You see, ‘in’ has its perks for the gamer.

But what if our Saturday night could combine the best of both? Mix the social element of going out with a well-stocked, reasonably priced bar, good food, gaming…

All the building blocks that make for stories that stay with your group for years to come with only the occasional queue.

That’s where the iPlay Gaming Festivals come in. Saturday evening, 18+ events that cater for gamers who like to play and party. At last, a night out that seems to have been custom made for people like me. So, I bought a ticket and attended their spring event in Liverpool. I went, ‘out-out’!

More chilled than clubby and tucked away in Liverpool’s creative district, Constellations was the perfect venue for an event of this ilk. From the very start there was a real vibe to event, even the entry queue enjoyed a buzz as groups of friends made bets and challenges about the game they’d conquer or tournament they’d win.

Once in, I found a gamers paradise. Lines of consoles, computers and cabinets featuring some of the best in retro-gaming from the last 30 years. Each seat was taken with avid gamers testing their skills while ‘under the influence’ due to some very fine beers that were only ever a reach away. It was a joy to behold.

Venturing further in, the main stage hosted competition on the big screen while a comedic compere encouraged the gaming throng to cheer and boo as Ryu and Chun-Li bashed seven bells out of each other during the Street Fighter Tournament. If that wasn’t your cup of tea, then the cool kids were showboating their skills in Fifa 16 and COD while I deviated towards the cabinets with the likes of Out Run, Paper Boy and Space Invaders filling time between rounds.

The atmosphere was terrific with slickly interlaced electronica DJ sets setting the pulse between competitions. Later I following my nose (and belly), outside to the sheltered garden area. Here I found the grill. The food consisted of juicy burgers from the barbecue, nachos and snacks. Perfect gaming fare.

With my initials in the high score table, I left the event with the next festival date firmly in my diary. The iPlay Gaming Festival has reignited my ‘Saturday Night Fever’ for nights out. Nights out tailored for people like me. Gamers. If you’re game too, check their website to see when iPlayGaming is coming to a city near you.

Video review

Andy Nicholson
Twitter: @olhungers
Instagram: @olhungers
www.gamesyouloved.com