I went to Conpulsion 2013 on Saturday.

I was underwhelmed.

The price of a ticket for one day was a tenner. For that I expected to get access to something half decent but apparently that wasn’t on the cards.

Reviewing the line-up of talks resulted in a sigh and a “So, what else is on?”

Games Art (Art) - Saturday 15:30 - 16:25
Paul Scott Canavan, Andy Hepworth, Paul Bourne and Scott Neil are here to talk about the projects they are working on, what brought them into the business and the way to survive. With questions from the audience.

Oh gee, wow. Artwork. As much as I enjoy a good illustration I can’t help but feel that the main audience at Conpulsion is there for stuff directly related to games of different kinds, not business tips for artists.

I’m perhaps being a bit harsh – there were other (better) talks on the list too. The thing being that not one of them stood out. I decided instead to go for a wander and see what else was available.

At this juncture it’s worth noting that the venue, Teviot, is made up of lots of different rooms. Interestingly it’s the oldest purpose-built student union in the world. Admittedly it’s only marginally older than my grandfather but still, it’s a bit nifty:Teviot_Row_House,_Edinburgh,_pen_drawing,_c1888Teviot-Row-1

Now for the event map:


Yeah, as you can probably tell it’s a bit of a maze inside. It’s even worse in reality.

That said there’s a real sense of a lot of different places and a lot going on when things are well planned. There’s countless places to setup little talks, play games, and just generally socialise.

Wandering around Conpulsion 2013 that was really not the case. There were groups of people playing various RPGs but beyond that it was rather impressively mediocre. Tabletop wargames were in the pleasantly lit Dining Room:2013-04-13 11.48.52

2013-04-13 11.48.46Although I must say that I’m always amazed by just how many people favour Space Marines. They’re so generic – play a faction with personality!

Much like in wargaming though I always find it weird when an event doesn’t play to its strengths. I don’t expect it to be all things to all people, that’s too much to ask, but it can surely make better use of its resources?

Photo 13-04-2013 16 21 07

The traders are tucked away at the top of the building where one is unlikely to wander through. Yay, useful. There’s a stage there and lots of room – why isn’t it being used for talks and wargame modelling (a painting contest, for example) ?

I suggest the wargaming stuff because whilst it’s an RPG convention such extras are easy to organise and a good way of making use of otherwise wasted space. The hall is a bit too big to be useful just for an audience but painting isn’t particularly talkative work – being able to hear the talks at the same time seems sensible to me!

Then there’s the Dining Room – it works fine for tabletop but wouldn’t it be better for traders?  Or discussion panels?

Also what about mini exhibitors? That is to say people working on things and wanting to show off their projects and talk to people for a bit? No money changing hands, just a little area where one could book a table and sit around for a few hours with other people of a similar mindset?


Something I loved about LugRadio Live was “Lightbulb Talks” – 3 minute talks about whatever. One would sign up either before the event or on the day. Great for getting a mixed bag of content and seeing whether a subject is worth doing more work on.

I’d have enjoyed seeing something like that at Conpulsion. Partly for the feeling of getting involved and partly to get a whole load of different subjects related to Conpulsion’s subject matter covered.

Right, next moan!

As far as I’m aware the talks weren’t recorded in any way. It’s going to be a bit tricky to promote next year’s event when all that remains of the last one is a stack of unused promotional tat and a few photos!

Oh and then there’s the “bring and buy” sale…

Given how big the hall is I struggle to believe that they had this to say:

We don’t want armies – we just don’t have the space.

-Jason Brown

That hall had MASSES of spare space. Complaining about space there is completely ludicrous. Furthermore the hoops one was required to jump through to sell things there – dear gods.

While all security measures and precautions are taken, GEAS cannot accept responsibility for items that are lost or stolen. Please secure firmly any packages or boxes and label each item with the sheet no, line letter and price before handing it in to the staff. We CANNOT take pick and mix selections of magazines or cards, nor will we accept wargaming figures.

Items for sale can be reduced in price after 2.00pm on the day of the convention. There will be an auction in aid of charity on Saturday night. If you wish to donate any of your unsold items to the auction please tick the relevant box below.

Surely there must be a better way of organising that? If 10% of the sale price is being taken as a commission surely a better service can be offered? (I don’t care if GEAS choose to give it to some unspecified charity – it’s being taken away from the seller.)

Something I haven’t moaned about is RPG space. I saw lots of people playing and having fun – clearly they’re doing that bit right. With that in mind perhaps a few pints worth of attention could be spent on fixing up the rest of the damn event to make it as good?

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