After more than two years of global lockdowns, videogame delays, and show cancellations, there’s a glimmer of light shining down on the industry’s event calendar. W.A.S.D is a brand-new consumer event that’s happening this spring at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, London.
Taking centre stage at the London Games Festival, W.A.S.D will run from April 7-9, 2022, and is a chance for players, publishers, developers, and content creators to come together in a relaxed setting that caters to fans of both indie and big-budget games.
There’ll be plenty of indie games in attendance – including Medallion Games’ Grapple Dog, Y/CJ/Y’s Post Void, and Triple Hill Interactive’s Die by the Blade – as well as studios and publishers like Snowcastle Games and Devolver Digital. It’ll also feature a number of talks about getting into the industry, covering every aspect from press and PR, to game development, publishing and plenty more. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to check out the next wave of indie greats or meet a dev.
We speak with David Lilley – founder of Roucan, the producer of W.A.S.D – to hear more about the show’s role in the London Games Festival, the importance of bringing gamers and those working in games together, and supporting the UK indie dev scene.
PCGamesN: W.A.S.D is a brand-new games event, but in a very familiar setting, why did you want to return to Tobacco Dock?
David Lilley: We think it’s important for the industry to have an event that showcases its creativity and sits on the London Games Festival programme. Tobacco Dock is a venue that’s loved by both gamers and those working in games, it really lends itself to this type of event. The venue and the audience provide a unique atmosphere of great people having a great time.
After years of iteration and growth with Rezzed, has it been refreshing working on a brand-new event?
There is something appealing about starting with a blank piece of paper. You get to focus on the core of the event, the things that make it special. We believe W.A.S.D is all about getting people playing games, and enjoying the creativity and innovation that you find in indie games in particular.
I think we’re all excited to get back to an event, it’s been a while! One of the great joys of organising events is the moment when you open the doors on the first day. Seeing people coming into the venue, enjoying the thing you’ve spent months working on. It’s a great feeling and we can’t wait.
Could you tell us a bit about W.A.S.D’s importance to the London Games Festival?
The London Games Festival has flown a bit under the radar with gamers, but it’s one of the biggest celebrations of gaming in the world. 40 different events took place during the festival in 2019, with over 400 playable games.
It’s hugely important to the industry and we’re proud that W.A.S.D will be the flagship consumer event at this year’s festival. W.A.S.D will also host LGF’s Games Finance Market, which connects developers with investors. It’s great for gamers and those working in games too.
How does an event like yours support the wider industry ecosystem?
Although this is a consumer event, we’re also bringing the industry together and giving them a venue to network and do business. Hosting the Games Finance Market is an element of that, but we also know that publishers attend events like these to scout for games to sign.
If you’re studying games or thinking about a career in the industry then W.A.S.D is the type of event you’d go to and be inspired by. We’re planning career specific content to give people practical advice on getting into games, too.
Those exhibiting get to spread the word and get their games into the hands of gamers. Then there’s the opportunity to meet publishers and get instant feedback.
With the pandemic still ongoing it doesn’t seem like there’s ever going to be a ‘right’ time to host a games event – how’s the team feeling about the current plan?
We want people to have fun at the event, but safety is critical of course. We’ve put together some guidelines which visitors can read and hopefully be reassured by. As we know, things can change quickly with this pandemic so we’ll update the guidelines as necessary.
Our venue, Tobacco Dock, is hybrid in nature with both indoor and outdoor spaces. They’ve worked hard on their safety stands with covid in mind so we’re really happy with Tobacco Dock as a venue for W.A.S.D.
How does W.A.S.D help to support the UK indie scene, and what kinds of opportunities do exhibitors get from an event like this?
We’re giving indies a platform from which to promote themselves and their games. Something we believe is important is that W.A.S.D does this while offering equal weighting to games from the big publishers. There will be big budget games at the event, but they’ll sit alongside the indies.
With W.A.S.D Curios we’re giving 12 indies the opportunity to exhibit their games at the event for free. This can include games that are at the very beginning of their lives, prototype stage almost, so it’s a brilliant way for devs to test the water with an outlandish concept.
As I mentioned earlier, we know that publishers use events to scout for new games to sign, so there are benefits beyond promoting your game to the public and press.
We’ve seen indie publishers excel in recent years. What kind of impact are they having on the industry?
It’s great to have more avenues for games to get to market and find success. It’s brilliant for creativity in the industry too. Indie publishers are more likely than established publishers to take a chance on a left field game that becomes a smash hit. Maybe that game features a design decision that goes on to inspire a whole raft of other games or even a new genre. Without indie publishers I think we’d be looking at a much blander games industry.
As W.A.S.D pulls together a few different groups, what’s your elevator pitch for everyone you can think of?
Ok, for indie devs: get your game into the hands of gamers, press, and publishers. Gamers can discover their new favourite thing. Content creators, you get to meet your fans, network with devs, and discover new things you won’t have heard about before. And publishers, this is a chance to engage with a passionate audience and find the next big game.
You can buy tickets for W.A.S.D here.