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Up All Night For Cloud Gaming

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Read Neil Cattermull's review of Insomnia54

Insomnia54 – The UKs biggest gaming festival

Compare the Cloud had the pleasure of partnering with MultiPlay events, founders of the Insomnia Gaming Festival. The three day event is situated at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry – otherwise known as the Wasps’ rugby ground. Now I appreciate that attending an event with 30,000 under 20s may not be everyones cup of tea, least of all mine, but I was simply bowled over by the event and heres why.

An insight into the gaming industry, period!

As soon as I was walked onto the arena I was taken aback by a completely different IT World than anything I had ever seen before. If you have teenage kids you are probably aware of the term “e-Sports” and have demands being thrown at you for the latest games and consoles to play. If you aren’t privy to the pleasure of teen gaming addicts, you will be surprised to know that it is big business – really big business. The tournaments have literally hundreds of PCs networked so you can compete against other teams, individuals or aim to have the best score on the day for featured games. There are hundreds of teams that play against other teams for money. Now in my day this was never possible, I had a commodore 64 that took 5 mins to load a tape that sounded like an old analogue modem dialling into  Compuserve (yes, I am a dinosaur) then I would bash the keyboard madly to Daley Thomson’s Decathlon.  Now networked Minecraft, Halo2, League of Legends and so many others can be played with great prizes of cash to the winners and runners up.

Minecraft Network
Minecraft Network

How about BYOC? Bring Your Own Computer events are amazing and to see kids bringing in their own computers to just plug and play was amazing. The PCs that were networked looked totally pimped out and were serious gaming machines. There were hundreds of them and I was amazed how simply they were connected to a LAN environment.

The CEX challengers

Next on my list of surprises was the Cex stand, and to describe what I saw really needs a picture of the challengers. In a nutshell the Cex stand, among others, challenged anyone to put together a PC from scratch within a time limit. It was amazing to see kids as young as 12 completing this with ease, and so fast! Sadly I didn’t pluck up the courage to take the challenge and embarrass myself, but if this is what the young generation are capable of at 12, what on earth is coming in the next decade, writing computer games at 7? And doesn’t the future look exciting for when these kids come of hiring age!

What happened next just knocked me for six. Whilst walking to a refreshments stand to consume slush puppies I was met by a screaming mass of children running after a couple of teenagers – Enter the Sidemen. Never heard of them? Neither had I until I was nearly knocked over by a couple of dozen screaming gamer groupies. Out of curiosity, and possibly blind stupidity, I followed this mass of screaming children. All became clear thanks to a bit of explaining from one of the bewildered fathers I spoke to. The Sidemen seem to be a mixture of jackass meets game reviewers. 

Hard to imagine but have a look for yourself online here when you get a spare minute. Anyway, they have youtube channels that have crazy videos on stunts and pranks and also reviews on games with walkthroughs with their own merchandise!

The SideMen merch stand had lines even when the 'stars' weren't present!
The SideMen merch stand had lines even when the ‘stars’ weren’t present!

In summary there is little I can say to do the event justice. There were stands selling other merchandise (PC components like memory as well as games) and money was literately being thrown to the vendors (funded by what I can only imagine are very supportive parents). There were so many games and chances to play games it was really really fun.

On a serious note the event was just awesome if you like e-Sports or playing games on your console at home. And it can be big business if you wish to exhibit. The younger generation seem to be guided by a herd of youtube channel stars that encourage the youth of today to buy the latest games as they come out on the market.

The majority of the games were streamed at the event by Clanforge (Thanks to Isaac for his hospitality when I was very out of my element!) who utilise a variety of providers that guarantee a very resilient service on the day!

The gaming industry is massive and you really need to attend one of the Insomnia events to understand the magnitude of the potential market. The next one is from the 28th – 31st August and I highly recommend you get down to Coventry and get your game on!