Guest Feature By Pete Beckett

We have all heard the stereotype about what gamers are like. They like to stay indoors on warm summer days or are affectionately called “basement dwellers” or are very unsociable. Whilst that may have been true back when gaming was in its very early starts, that can’t be said about the gamers of today.

These days, many of the gamers we all know are communicating with friends via discord, organising regular play sessions with friends, either online or offline. The fact is that gamers, like the vast majority of people around the world, absolutely love to let their hair down and party.

It is with that in mind that an event has appeared over the last couple of years that I was given the pleasure of attending, called FormatGG. What is Format? Where is it held? And most importantly, what did I think of 2023’s event?

For those who aren’t in the know, (or Format for short) states on their website that “We are the ultimate gaming social and UK’s leading games industry community nightlife event and we are leading a revolution for gamers and non-gamers alike to change the game.”

To put this in a somewhat more simplistic way, it was an event that was held in Manchester during May, where various industry Insiders and the paying general public mingle in a large bar, play games and dance (as little or as much as you liked).

The event was held in the Impossible Bar in Manchester. It was a beautiful, 3 story bar, with a bar on each floor. The entrance floor had a huge bar in the middle, and several games set up to be demoed by their respective studios, and a large outside area for smokers. Due to the weather that day (it was incredibly hot and humid) this area was considerably busy most of the time.

On the top floor there was a couple more set ups but this was more of a quiet zone, with sofas and chairs around to find a bit of quiet away from the chaos. However the basement floor was where all the magic was happening, as there were several more indie set ups, a VR stand, as well as the dance floor with a DJ.

Whilst there were several games to be demoed on the day, I only got the chance to play one game. It was an open world, 3D Brawler which was made by 3 developers. Whilst I unfortunately can’t remember the name of the game, it was impressive enough that 3 developers worked on this, it was very well polished and played well, despite it being a 4 player co-op game. I was somewhat impressed with what I played.

Whilst I didn’t get much of a chance to play games whilst I was there, I decided to go in with the social aspect in mind. I wanted to try and get to meet a few people and Format was the perfect event for that. Whilst it was a long way to travel up from Southern UK, I managed to meet up with a few writers from various outlets including Rapid Reviews UK, as well as a Twitch streamer by the name of Middle Aged Gamer.

Having been given 4 tickets for the event, I managed to give 2 tickets away to people I had never met in person before and spent a lot of the evening chatting with them. It was the perfect social event, even for those who struggle with social situations. Everyone I met was incredibly kind, and it was nice putting names to faces of those whom I had engaged with online previously.

Whilst I am no stranger to large scale gaming events, specifically conventions such as EGX and WASD, this was the first gaming event that I had been to that was specifically designed to be a social engagement event. And whilst I am one to usually avoid these kinds of events, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised. I had only stayed for a few hours, due to an early start with travelling on the day and another early start the next day to travel home, I was blown away by what I had experienced, and the friendly people I met whilst there.

Despite social events being one I tend to avoid, when Format makes a return in October, I will be strongly considering going again.

It was the perfect evening of good times, great laughs, and filled with pleasant and kind people who clearly all looked like they had enjoyed the night towards the point I left. Format is a truly brilliant event, even for those who struggle with social anxiety.

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