Essen 2009 – Press Wednesday

22 Oct

So. Wednesday – press day.

Today’s photos are here:

We arrived around 10am, a little later than we’d planned. We’ll have to improve on that tomorrow! Breakfast in the hotel was as fab as I remembered and they even have a squeezer for fresh orange juice: yum! I think Fraser even forgave the UHT milk after that.

The big dilemma was whether or not to wear my orange Lookout top. It’s not exactly press dress, you see. But would people recognise me without it? I was prepared to bet “no” especially as the only people I know here have probably never seen me out of it. In the end, I compromised and put it on once I got into the halls. But I’ll be incognito one day, just you wait.

Today, we were well-equipped. We left most of our bags behind – I even left my handbag & purse behind, although I did slip a little cash into a pocket. We each had a notebook and a LEGO pen on a lanyard round our necks (errm, not that we were dressing the same, because that is weird and slightly icky). I had our to-buy list on a clipboard. The girls had their day packs, with nothing in particular inside.

And we had our shopping trolley.


This was something I learned from Ann and Ageeth last year. Carrying bags or boxes around is a huge pain, especially when you have to get them out to the car. But a shopping trolley can be wheeled around, parked, leaned on … and best of all, a shopping trolley has LOTS AND LOTS OF ROOM INSIDE IT.

The fact that you look like a bit of a goose pushing it around is something that you just have to get over.

We stopped by Lookout to say hello, then headed for the BGG stand – which was empty, although some signs had been posted since the night before. At Bezier games (with an accent), we met the extended Alspach clan, then we headed into hall 4 and the galleria. To Otto’s disgust, the bouncy castles were not fully inflated yet.

I left the rest of the family in Hall 9 with Jeremiah and Stephanie, and headed up to the press conference. There was some interesting stuff here about growth in the boardgames industry – overall, I think it was about 1% growth – but that’s not bad at all in the current economic climate! Rumours that the Rogerson-McHarg family’s presence in germany is responsible for 50% of that gain are scurrilous and exaggerated.

I’m typing this in the dark while Otto goes to sleep, so I can’t check my notes. Many games were named, and the final figure of exhibitors was announced – 1 up on last year, I think. Around 30 countries are represented, and there are around 600 new games being presented.

One comment that was made was that, once again, the Messe has sold out all its space. Much of that seems to have been at the last minute – there were 20 people on the waiting list for booths. “If we had known earlier, we could have done something about it” was the message.

And here is what is possibly the funniest part of the show: You can RENT CHILDREN. (The cynics among us (ie in the bed beside me) might ask whether you can also HIRE OUT YOUR OWN CHILDREN but that is not what this was about). Say you are a Big Important Journalist here to cover the game fair … and say you want to get some lovely photos for your national magazine … well off you go, just go to our PRESSE stand and check out a few kids.

I saw the kids on the way up to the press conference. They were all wearing identical red shirts and were sipping soft drinks in the PRESSE stand.

The Neuheitenshow – where the new games are laid out – is always an experience. Some of the special things this year were:
– an entire family (mum, dad, 2 kids) in red satin vampire cloaks. They looked great!
– a piano and opera singers (Opera)
– Karl-Heinz Schmiel in a chef’s hat. I had a giddy fangirl moment and didn’t dare to even ask to take his photo.
– Halli galli fruit punch
– Some celebrity promoting Uno Flash, which lights up. They had giveaways for some of the press people – sadly, not me.
– The (allegedly) REAL Donald X. Vaccarino, in the flesh. I am still disappointed that Hanno didn’t take my suggestion and reprint all the Lookout Games t-shirts with an X after the name. I would quite like to be MELISSA X, I think.
– A group of women in Carmen Miranda outfits, sadly minus the hats. This was weird because they were advertising Halli Galli – so surely fruit on the head would be de rigeur? I was confused.

I had good explanations of a couple of games: Insula, a czech design; and Maria, a successor to Friedrich (although historically it is earlier, I think I learned). This is weirdly tempting, although I have never played Friedrich and really am not drawn to wargames.

I ran into the Yu brothers (Brian and that other forgettable one), then headed off to find my family. I ran into Phil Davies again, who introduced me to Kelli who works at Mind games Melbourne and her partner Steve. This was weird – being introduced to people from my home town (from my FLGS, even), on the other side of the world. They seem really nice and I have a lot of time for any game store staff who make the time to go to an event like Essen.

While Phil and Kelli wandered upstairs to check out the new games, Steve and I headed for the Z-Man booth. We saw Klemens Franz on the way, then stopped at H@ll games to explain what was happening in a demo game of Loyang. I also caught up with Timo, who we hope to game with in person before we leave as he lives quite close to where we are.

A warning to everyone: I am really good at remembering stuff I have seen on paper, like what first name and last name go together, or how old you were when your dog ate your contact lenses (if I happen to have read the right thread) – but I am terrible at putting a face to a name. If I look blankly at you, remind me. And please forgive me.
I finally found my family, comfortably ensconced at the Geekdo booth, sticking stickers onto registration cards for the rating system. Biggie claimed to have been there for at least 2 hours. We stayed for at least one more – both girls worked really hard, and I was even rather proud of them.

We took a break and headed for the Gallery, where the bouncy things had inflated. Yikes!

Then we headed into Hall 4, where we picked up a copy of Roborally (the old version) and the expansion. Fraser was happy.

Where was the day going? We raced back to Hall 5 for the BGG pizza delivery (I earned my keep by ordering), and introduced Phil Davies to a couple of people. Then Tom Werneck (one of the SdJ founders and a jury member for 31 years) came by and I seized the opportunity to chat with him as well. One of my Missions this year is to do as much networking for Boardgames Australia as I can, especially with important groups like the SdJ. I also have a meeting planned with the SAZ, as well as with some publishers and industry groups.

Next stop was the Fragor Games party, which didn’t happen last year (or was cunningly timed for when I was out of the halls … yeah … that must be it). The booze was good but the real hit of the event was the inflatable ostrich costumes. I just wonder whether the Lamonts found these before or after they designed a game with ostriches … surely it couldn’t be a coincidence!

What else?

* Chatted briefly with the lovely Martin Wallace.
* Watched my daughter be asked – for the first time – for her L-deck card. Signed a few myself, but the Bigster’s is NEW
* started to fill a gaming buddy’s wishlist – sadly, many publishers were still not set up – I guess tomorrow morning will be busy!
* Saw a few more stands
* Said hi to Jackson Pope (Reiver games) who have Sumeria and It’s Alive! on display
* Ran through Farmers of the Moor with a couple of Zev’s minions
* Saw many other people who I haven’t listed by name
* Met Aldie for the first time
* Muscled in on a couple of meetings

Afterwards, we brought our games back to the hotel and settled in for the night. It’s only 11 now but it feels muuuuuuuuchhhhhhhh later.

See you tomorrow!


Posted by on October 22, 2009 in essen, games



9 responses to “Essen 2009 – Press Wednesday

  1. The1jugg

    October 22, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Hey, love the coverage. Thanks for all the great pics. Sure makes me feel left out!!


  2. Gerald

    October 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Great photos!

  3. Kevin Wood

    October 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Melissa, you rock! Thanks for thinking about those of us who couldn’t go. Loved the photos!

  4. Chad

    October 22, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Great report of your day! I loved the photos! I hope that someday I will be able to visit Essen and see this great show, but until then I’ll have to live vicariously through you and the others that blog about it too!

  5. ekted

    October 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the pics!

  6. Tom Rosen

    October 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Sounds like another great day! Thanks again for the report and photos. Looking forward to hearing about the upcoming days, games played, people met, etc. 🙂

  7. Terry Furness

    October 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Really enjoying reading your accounts of the show Melissa, thanks for taking the time. Each entry makes a trip to Essen more likely in the future 🙂

  8. Racing Hippo

    October 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Damn. Missing it already 😦
    Look forward to tomorrow’s update!

  9. Jens Hoppe

    October 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Great coverage & pictures! Personally I think you are much too well-known to need that orange t-shirt – you just wait and see! 😉

    Anyway, reading reports like this makes me go all “what were I thinking, not going this year??!” Deep breath, it will all be over in a few days. :-/


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