Game Expo Scotland Interview with Rowan Mackie

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Game Expo Scotland will soon be making its first ever appearance at the start of October and we at XBLGamerhub are proud to be involved as one of their media partners for this event.  We’re sure this is going to kick off the first of many for this expo, but naturally getting something like this up and running takes a lot of dedication, hard work and effort to put together.

We managed to catch up with GES2014 Managing Director, Rowan Mackie, before he headed on out to Cologne for Gamescom to find out a little bit more of just what his expectations are for the expo and how it all came together in the first place.

To kick things off, how did the idea of Games Expo Scotland come about?
As we are event organisers, we are always looking to see where the gaps are in Scotland for consumer expos / shows. I had thought about it initially about 18 months ago and from doing our research found that all the big events take place down south.  Saying that, we were just exhibiting at Dare to be Digital up in Dundee, which I think got 15,000 visitors over the 4 days, so there is definitely an appetite for a game event of this type.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Dare_Digital_3Spot_300dpi.jpgGame Expo Scotland gave folk a sneak peak at the recent Dare to be Digital in Dundee

What are your hoping to achieve with the Expo?
We want GES to be the EGX of Scotland.  There isn’t anything else out there at the moment showcasing all platforms and types of games in one consumer expo.  We also want the expo to be used as a commercial platform for all the Scottish talent out there, for studios large and small.  We want to appeal to the masses, whether you are 5 or 55 years old, that gaming is a great hobby / past time that should be enjoyed and celebrated.  By putting on GES, we want to bring the various different communities together and use this as a platform where gamers can hang out and play games!

Have there been any particular challenges you’ve had to overcome to bring the Expo into being?
Yeah, everything! 🙂  It’s been a huge learning curve for us to deliver GES as we are not hardcore gamers ourselves.  In saying that, I consider myself an original gamer as I grew up with a spectrum 48k, Commodore 64, Sega master / mega drive, Nintendo, SNES, Lynx, PS1…..all the way to a PS2 and then I kind of dipped in and out from there.  The main challenge is getting the big publishers up to Scotland.  This will take time and as we plan for GES to be an annual event, we hope this will grow throughout the coming years.  We are still working on a lot of stuff to bring to the expo, so as usual we will update through our social media feeds / press releases etc of all the new additions.

We have an incredibly vibrant gaming sector here in Scotland, indie devs in particular seem to flourish. A lot already appear to have bought into the Expo, which is fantastic. What do you hope to provide for the likes of these companies in October?
A new audience which they haven’t had the chance to interact with before.  The great thing about events is there are numerous opportunities, whether it’s talking / showcasing to the public, meeting your peers or making new business contacts which could further your own studio.  Really, I hope our exhibitors are inspired that the gaming industry / community is strong in Scotland and something we can build on….and be proud of.  This is the beginning of something special.

We naturally have to talk about the big hitters though, Dead Island 2 and Homefront: The Revolution are the headliners (and very exciting ones at that too).  Were there any concerns following the sad demise of Crytek UK?
It’s never good to hear of these things, but the show must go on and Deep Silver will have a strong presence at GES as headline sponsors.

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You’re also giving a platform to the eSports crowd, in particular Versus Scotland have come onboard and there’s the Capcom Pro Ranking Tournament too. Was eSports always in your mind as a necessary part of the expo? 
Yeah, it’s going to be great!  We have a load of games in the esports zone and everyone can take part!  I hope I have enough time to get involved, I fancy a bit of Street Fighter 4  

In terms of the date of the Expo, it’s following right after EGX London. What will GES bring to the table to differentiate itself from EGX?
In all honesty at this stage, we couldn’t really compare ourselves to EGX at this point.  Our selling point is that gamers don’t necessarily have to travel 400+ miles to a game event.  In saying that EGX is awesome and it makes 75,000 + visitors happy each year.  We are expecting a more modest footfall of 8 – 10,000 over the weekend of early October, so hopefully it would mean less queing time and maybe more interaction with the exhibitors.  We also have a 1,200 seater auditorium in our speaker sessions zone, so that’s a nice touch 🙂

When you’re not thinking about getting GES up and running, what games do you play to ease the stress of the day?  Any particular favourites?
I’m actually playing a game on my tablet just now, Hungry shark.  You munch everything in the sea, on boats and on the shore……it’s quite addictive

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Hungry Shark… A current favourite for Rowan

Any games in particular you’re looking forward to that you would hope will make an appearance at GES?
All of them!

Lastly, who would be your top picks from the games industry to share a night on the tiles with?
Suzanne Panter from Koch Media.  I’ve never met her before, but I will tomorrow night at the Koch party in Cologne for Gamescom.  I expect to have a hangover 🙂

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Rowan Mackie – GES2014 MD

Looks like Rowan chose a
unique way to get to Gamescom!

Huge thanks to Rowan for taking the time out to give us a bit of background here at XBLG (and provide us with a killer non-serious photo we have to say).  We’ll be keeping you up to date on everything surrounding Game Expo Scotland 2014 plus provide full coverage during the weekend of the Expo.

For full details on the expo itself be sure to go to www.gameexposcotland.com or follow them on facebook or twitter @gameexposcot

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Written by: Scott Watson

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