WASD Video Game Expo

Last year, I attended a convention at the Tobacco Dock in London called WASD Video Game Expo (known more commonly as W.A.S.D. or WASD). It was a new event that was put together by a team of event organizers made up of ex Eurogamer employees and people who have worked on other big videogame events like EGX and EGX Rezzed. The convention was mostly indie focused but there were a couple of bigger publishers there including SEGA and it was on the whole a pretty fun day out. If you would like to know more about our thoughts on that event, please feel free to read our full feature on it which was written by our editor Jack who attended the event with me.

This year we saw the return of WASD for its second year running and we were most excited to attend again and see what delights awaited us this time. It was not held at the same venue as last time and was held at the Truman Brewery building instead. There were a number of things that were done differently this year as well that we shall get on to in a bit.

WASD Video Games Expo


What To Play At WASD

So, to start with, I am going to talk about what was at the event before I dive deeper into some (hopefully) constructive criticisms that may help the organizers improve upon the snags of this year’s expo and put them in effect for next year. For anyone who may have attended EGX Rezzed, WASD is very much a spiritual successor to it in a way. It is mainly focused on the Indie video game scene where many indie developers from all over the UK (and even some from Europe) come to present their games to the general public with playable demos of their games. There were low key indie devs and publishers as well as notable names in the industry like Devolver Digital, Outright Games, and Plaion. As for AAA devs and publishers, Capcom was at the event with Street Fighter 6, Bandai Namco had Park Beyond, and even PlayStation were in attendance with a number of VR games playable on PlayStation VR2.

If you would like to see exactly what games were available at WASD, you can see the full list in the following images.

The vast selection of indie games available at WASD was impressive I will admit and there was a little something for everyone. There were platformers, metroidvanias, fighting, action, simulation, VR, arcade, puzzle and more. If you have a favourite genre, chances are there was a game at the event that would have been right up your alley. As I was only there for one day, there was not enough time to play all the games but there was a fair few that stood out to me the most. Full Void by OutOfTheBit was one such title that felt like if Dragon’s Lair met Metroid Dread. It was a platforming game where the main character is chased by a scary robot and one false move will require you to restart the sequence again. Patch Quest by Curve Games was a Metroidvania game that also looked and played very well and is well worth keeping an eye out in the near future.

Another game was Girl Genius: Adventures in Castle Heterodyne by Rain Games. That was an action-adventure game based on the popular Girl Genius comics in the US. The last game that really caught my attention was Devolver Digital’s Stick it to the Stickman. It’s an arcade beat ’em up where up to two players must fight their way through waves of enemies to ascend a tower block and take on the greedy CEO who awaits on the roof. I really enjoyed it a lot and it is funny how the simplest looking of games can be the most fun.

WASD Video Games Expo


Gamer Buds Reunited

One of my biggest highlights of video game conventions in general is getting to hang out with my fellow gamer buddies. WASD is no exception and I got to meet up with my buddies Sib, Rich, Pete, and Neil. I’ve met Rich, Pete, and Sib (and his partner Dottie) at other events over the years but it is always great to see them and hang out for a while. Seeing as I live in Spain and they live in other parts of the UK, getting together for a meet up isn’t always a possibility which is why I love events like WASD as it gives me an excellent reason to see them again. As for Neil, it was the first time of meeting him in person although we have engaged with one another on Twitter for some time and even played some GoldenEye 007 online together.

We had a short exchange of pleasantries but we were both fairly busy and had other people to meet so we couldn’t hang out for too long. Still, it was nice to be able to put a face to the name and meet Neil in person and hopefully we’ll play online again soon. Pete, Rich, Sib and I did have some time to hang out and so we played some games together, including Stick it to the Stickman, which I mentioned earlier and had a jolly time doing so. Later on, as some of us parted ways, Pete and I played some Street Fighter 6 with the NACON Daija Arcade Stick. Pete then went on to school me in how to play Street Fighter by handing my butt to me over and over again. To be fair I am pretty bad at fighter games anyway and Pete has played in professional tourneys so I think I did pretty well to not go down within the first 30 seconds. I also won a couple of rounds two so for me, that was a success. I may not have won the war, but I did score a few small victories.

Pete and I also played some of Park Beyond by Bandai Namco and the developers behind Tropico 6. It is a Theme Park management sim similar to the likes of Theme Park World and Theme Park Tycoon. It isn’t coming to Switch despite supposedly coming to all modern consoles (guess the Switch is no longer modern now) but we tried it out anyway because it was there and well, the game itself looked great but I didn’t find the controls very intuitive on the keyboard. Changing the height of the track for example required you to hold down the shift button and then move the mouse up and down. Also, trying to correct the track from banking was quite awkward as well. Even trying to get the track to sit just right on top of designated markers was a task in itself. I couldn’t really get to grips with the controls at all and ultimately had to abandon my roller coaster creation partway through during the tutorial.

WASD Video Game Expo


Minor Kinks

WASD Video Game Expo last year did a lot of things right and was a truly delightful experience and kind of set the standard of what I was expecting to see this year. Unfortunately, this year I was left with mixed feelings with the whole experience and I wasn’t the only one either. I spoke with multiple others at the event who also felt that WASD missed the mark somewhat this year. To start with, the whole distribution of where booths were set up, didn’t feel right. Some booths were stuck in far off corners and kind of felt “out of the way”.

One example was the Dead Island 2 and System Shock booth. These two games were part of Plaion’s selection of games that they had at the event, alongside Undisputed, Road 96: Mile 0 and Scars Above. Granted, Plaion had quite a large portion of the show floor but with Dead Island 2 and System Shock being rated over 18, they were sectioned off in an enclosed booth so you nobody outside could see what the games were like unless they actually queued up to go inside and play. Now it is understandable why these games would be cordoned off so that the young children wouldn’t see anything that they shouldn’t. However, the whole booth itself was tucked away into a corner like some seedy adult section in a video store.

The distribution of some of the indie games also felt like they could have been done a lot better. While some booths had multiple demo units available, the Curios section was pretty much several different games kind of squeezed together into a single booth that was also sort of tucked away in a separate room somewhere, adjacent to the main hall and yet somewhat isolated, even though it was not that far from the main entrance to the event. What was probably the weirdest thing about WASD this year was the Tabletop Wargamer area. It was so far off from anything, you could very easily miss it unless you actively went searching for it. Now, we did have a map that showed where everything was at the event but what it doesn’t show are all the walls and partitions that separated each area.

WASD Video Games Expo

Other little niggles were the abundance of seating and eating areas around the perimeter of the event while food stands were located in the Hands On areas. it was quite an enclosed space as well and even though the food smelled great, it certainly lingered in the halls and I don’t think any vegetarians or vegans would have been too happy with the strong smell of cooked duck and other meat odors wafting through the air space. The retail stands at WASD were also not quite what I was expecting. I believe there were only five of them in total and two of them were for charities. It was nice to see charity stands for WWF and Cats Protection at WASD but the absence of Safe In Our World was thought provoking as it would have made the most likely charity organization you would think to see at a video game convention.

As for the other retail stands, it was good to see that WASD actually had its own merch available this time around as they had a mishap with it last year not turning up. The odd thing was the lack of other merchandise stands. There was one stand (Ukiyo-e Heroes) that had art prints and woodblock prints for sale and Devolver Digital had its own stand but there was not really anything else that gamers could spend money on. It would have been nice to see some local video game-themed stores set up shop as a good number of folks who visited WASD may not be very familiar with London or know such stores existed there. It would have worked well for both parties as gamers may have found merch that they couldn’t find elsewhere.

WASD Video Games Expo


Room For Improvement

I think the problem I have with WASD this year was because they really hit a homerun with their first convention last year. What worked so well last year left with an expectation of what they would achieve this year and for the most part, the event was still pretty great but was missing that WOW factor that it had last year. Still, as we always like to look at the positives here at Miketendo64, it just means that there is room for improvement for next year.

To throw some of my own thoughts into the ring, for next year, I would try and make the Curios section feel more included and be a part of the main indie area. I would also relocate the food stands to the seating and eating areas as I feel it would make the most sense there. More retail stands should also be a given. Gamers and convention goers in general love walking away from events with souvenirs (overpriced or not) as keepsakes to remind them of the fun times they had.

The Tobacco Dock last year made an excellent venue because even though the booths were confined to individual storefronts inside the building, they were surrounding by glass panes so you could see inside each one easily. The noise pollution was also much lower in each room as you couldn’t all the fussing and bussing going on in the other booths. This means you could happily engage in conversation with one another without your throat feeling hoarse at the end of the day. It also had what I thought were better accessibility options in general as well. Granted, the Truman Brewery had a service lift to take people with mobility issues or parents with pushchairs but it still required someone in the group to go up the stairs to the registration hall to handle the “check-in” to the event, which felt like a minor inconvenience that could have been avoided if the registration hall was on the ground floor in the first place, or at least a separate registration area in front of the service elevator as it was manned by security anyway.

WASD Video Games Expo


Final Thoughts

Should WASD be held in the Truman Brewery again next year, I hope the organizers take into consideration some of our critiques that are not just our own but are also shared viewpoints by other attendees at the event. I and many others do want to see WASD continue to grow and flourish and I’m sure that any feedback that the eventgoers can provide will only help improve the event going forward. I still look forward to seeing what WASD will be like next year and I hope to see some more great indie games and hang out with our friends in the gaming community again.

If you are interested to hear more about my time at WASD, I was recently a guest on the Rapid Reviews Podcast with my friend Pete and Kiley. The episode is available on Twitch, YouTube, and Spotify, and I hope you will give them a listen and subscribe to their channels as there are a great bunch and talk all about video games and other media.


Well, it is time for me to sign of now so thank you all very much for reading and until next time Keep On Gaming!

By Mike Scorpio

I am Chief Administrator for Miketendo64.com A news & reviews website for Nintendo related articles and merchandise. An intermediate gamer with over 20 years of experience spanning 4 decades and 4 generations of Nintendo Games Consoles From the NES up to the Wii U. I also manage our YouTube Channel where I post videos frequently ranging from Let's Plays, Unboxings, Let's Talk Abouts, Our Wii U Lv1 Playthrough Series and the Super Mario Maker Bros Show! and a whole lot more, we even have our own Miketendo64 Directs!

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