Insomnia Festival Winter Edition (i56 @ Birmingham NEC)
Yes I know it’s a bit late, especially considering that Insomnia 56 took place over the 11th to 13th of December.
This was the first time the event was held down at the larger Birmingham NEC. There were a lot of changes to go along with the move, including the option of indoor camping, which considering the time of year was a massive improvement over sleeping in a cold car.
Rather than having a number of tents outside, the event was split over two expo halls (three if you count the camping area) The E-sports area was in the second hall with the LAN area which was a marked improvement over the summers event in my opinion, not least because it was indoors.
In the main hall, a lot of regular suspects were notably absent. Including CCL and Cooler Master, both who had been stalwarts of past Insomnia Festival events. Seemingly the change in dates to make it that bit closer to Christmas was the cause of their lack of participation (maybe next year?) however their was still plenty of companies in attendance.
Overclockers were there with the mighty 8Pack and now with them joining up with Game to sell PC hardware in Game stores it is likely they will be at every future event. The Overclockers stand was laden with many beautiful gaming machines and to go along with their “To Your Desk” hardware delivery, they also had a support desk which had people covered in case something went wrong.
The Razer bus is never far away at an insomnia event, and sure enough mere steps away from Overclockers was the old beast. Kitted out with a number of gaming machines and the latest Razer hardware of course, but the line for this rarely looked like a short thing.
Asus were back with the usual streaming setup and a number of highly rated streamers on throughout the day, playing a number of games. Around the stand were a number of Asus devices all setup for different games as well including Rocket League.
In the E-sports area, there were two stages, the main stage at the time for me was showcasing Battleborn, Whilst just to the right was a Hearthstone tournament. Both were easily accessible areas that included a 24H bar for the gamers in attendance.
The LAN area as I said earlier was a far nicer area and which appeared to be far larger than the summer event. The image below only shows a small area, as it snaked over to the left and out of view.
I enjoyed the XBOX developer area as it meant that I got another chance to play Raging Justice, which is always excellent. I also managed to grab a quick play of Cuphead which I have wanted to play since I saw the art style, thankfully I did slightly better than this person, although it could be brutal.
There were a number of other stalls including a number of gaming T-Shirt stalls. RetroGT/Battle Tiger always being one of my favourites, not least because they are fairly priced. You were covered also if you wanted anything POP Vinyl related as a sole stand covered the most popular variants.
A number of other stands catered to more licensed gear with a number of stands set up for just one games licensed gear including Fallout and Assassins Creed specific stands.
Hidden near the main stage was the retro gaming area. This was one of my favourite areas as it had a lot of classic systems ready to play. Alongside this was the Minecraft zone which had a crazy amount of machines set up ready to play.
HTC were also showcasing the Vive, though this was almost immediately fully booked for the day. I did manage to get a video of someone using it though and from her expressions it looked like it was good fun. 😄
Overall the event was fun, it did seem like there was less somehow. This could just be down to the event space becoming even more massive. Which should mean and of course I am jinxing it by saying so, but future events should have plenty of space to grow into. Here’s hoping I can get down to the next event at Easter and here’s hoping that the Team Banana crew, CCL and Cooler Master are also in attendance. It’s just not an Insomnia Festival without you all.
I mean who else am I going to be able to build a Pizza tower with!