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Popular computer gaming festival returns to Norwich during half-term

PUBLISHED: 15:08 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 26 May 2018

Gaming in the VR Zone at the 2017 Norwich Gaming Festival. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEY

Gaming in the VR Zone at the 2017 Norwich Gaming Festival. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEY

Kerry Leathley.

Many of us have whiled away the hours shooting baddies on GoldenEye, jumping through hoops on Sonic the Hedgehog and, more recently, catching characters on Pokémon Go.

The 2017 Norwich Gaming Festival. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEYThe 2017 Norwich Gaming Festival. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEY

But now the return of a popular computer game festival aims not only to take people back to their childhoods or into virtual reality, but also open doors to real world future careers.

The Norwich Gaming Festival 2018 aims to combine the nostalgia of the Super Nintendo (SNES) and Sega Mega Drive with modern augmented reality (AR) games that take players into another universe via their smartphones.

But while people will have the chance to relearn all their old tricks on Mario Kart or Crash Bandicoot in the festival’s Retro Arcade, there will also be a range of talks, seminars and workshops designed to inspire gamers to make the transition from player to producer.

And in an industry dominated by the big names of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, the week-long festival at The Forum in Norwich will also give independent developers a valuable opportunity to showcase the games of the future.

Cosplay Masquerade at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2017. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEYCosplay Masquerade at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2017. Picture: KERRY LEATHLEY

Norwich Gaming Festival project manager Richard Smith - who names GoldenEye and Command and Conquer among his favourite games - said the event had grown from “humble beginnings” when it was first held in 2012 to an event attracting hundreds of gamers and wannabe producers.

“I think people just love playing games,” he said.

“There is a nostalgic element - you get old timers like me who love the N64.

“However we’ve got a really good developer scene here.”

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Festival producer Dan Scales said the event is “really accessible for small developers who perhaps don’t have the budget for exhibition space”.

He added: “People are looking for a more varied gaming experience. You can make something that is smaller and simpler but still appeals to a lot of people.”

The growing trend for more games on tablets and mobile phones has opened the industry up to smaller, independent producers, he said.

But he added that there are also many careers connected to the industry - whether in marketing, sales or law - which allow people to pursue their passion for gaming.

The festival begins on Monday, May 28 and runs until Sunday, June 3.

It is open between 10am and 4pm each day.

For more information, visit www.norwichgamingfestival.com, @NorwichGFest on Twitter or The Norwich Gaming Festival on Facebook.

What are the highlights of the 2018 Norwich Gaming Festival?

This year’s Norwich Gaming Festival at The Forum, in Norwich, includes a Virtual Reality Zone and Retro Arcade in The Gallery.

There will be relaxed sessions on Tuesday, May 29 and Wednesday, May 30 designed for children with additional needs to enjoy games away from the hubbub of the main festival, while the Gaming Village outside The Forum will feature gaming retailers and a pop-up board game café.

Education Day on Thursday, May 31 will feature talks from Norwich University of the Arts, Access Creative College and the University of East Anglia on career opportunities and a chance to chat to students, designers and industry experts.

The Warp Zone will an opportunity for under-16s to showcase their game development skills and receive expert advice during the festival, while the Festival Pub Quiz on Saturday, June 2 at Epic Studios will allow fans to test their gaming knowledge.

Richard Smith, Norwich Gaming Festival project manager, said: “We’re so pleased with the 2018 Norwich Gaming Festival Programme and hope visitors will enjoy their visit.

“We have something for everyone including new releases, classic retro games, workshops, talks, and so much more.”

Norwich Gaming Festival’s lead education partner is Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), which has been involved since the festival’s inception in 2013.

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