It’s been an exciting weekend for gamers across Kent, as the GEEK gaming festival made its way to Margate, Dreamland for the sixth year in a row. From 16-18 February, gamers of all ages were able to spend the three days playing, and celebrating, a wide range of video games from the most recent releases to some of the oldest classics ever made, including ‘Asterix’, ‘Super Mario bros’ and ‘Pacman’. The venue’s two floors are jam-packed with souvenirs, from Pokemon plushies and Japanese anime-style candy to the countless consoles on offer to admire and try out, from the SEGA Mega Drive, Nintendo Entertainment System and arcade style machines to the PS2, Wii, Xbox Ones and PS4s. The insanely vast variety of consoles made me think long and hard about how much gaming technology has evolved in a matter of decades.

GEEK welcomed a wide variety of gamers with open arms, including some as young as 9 and 10 years-old. It was heart-warming to see so many youngsters get together, and have such a fun time celebrating such an extensive timeline of gaming. One of the many tournaments held at GEEK was the Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament with many young players ecstatic to pull off their fighting skills in this recently released title. The winner of the tournament, and game development student, Josh said: “It was brilliant to see young gamers become inspired by the older gamers who took part in the tournament. I remember quite a few asking me for advice on how to be better at the game as they were impressed with how I won the tournament. It’s so nice to be able to be an inspiration to the younger generation of gamers.”

The joy of seeing such friendly competition and good spirit between everyone was my favourite part of GEEK. And I wasn’t the only one: “It’s brilliant, the atmosphere here is brilliant” said a GEEK representative. “There’s something for everyone. We haven’t just got one area in use, we have the bottom floor and the whole top floor upstairs. The whole interaction with everyone and atmosphere between them is really good.”

Students representing universities across Kent including Canterbury Christ Church University and University of the Creative Arts (UCA) also came to join the fun and promote various courses and higher education opportunities careers in the gaming industry. “We’re trying to attract younger people, people aged between 30 and 20”, said a representative for UCA. “We want them to understand that it’s not just a degree they can get, but how it can get them so many opportunities in the games industry, and related careers.”

Overall, GEEK gaming festival truly was the celebration of gaming with every console you can think of and retro classics that bring back every ounce of nostalgia; even if you grew up with the original Xbox or Wii (like me). The staff clearly love their jobs and hosting each tournament, which made everyone feel more welcome, and the university visitors proved that there’s a role for everyone in the games industry from animating, rigging, programming to the website design aspect of promoting a game. “It’s a great experience and I would certainly recommend it to so many gamers out there’, Dragon Ball FighterZ winner Josh commented. “It gives you the opportunity to learn a lot from the people around you as with such a wide age variety it can help you to understand what kind of games stand out to people of a certain age, and how far games have come over the years.”