A few months have passed since I attended Insomnia 70 but I am back at Insomnia 71, and I must admit I miss the buzz of a convention hall full of gaming/cosplay and shopping stalls, so you know that I made it my mission when I found out Insomnia 71 was coming back to the NEC on the 7th September – 10th September.
One thing that took me by surprise on the days that I attended was the weather. Who knew that we would get the hottest days of the year on a September weekend after miserable weather most of the week leading up to the convention? I was happy to see that it didn’t put the cosplayers off but I did feel for them in the heat. I love seeing people dress as their favourite characters from all forms of media.
I will attempt one day to do cosplay and attend an event as one of my favourite characters but that is a story for another day. Insomnia 70 was enjoyable and I was looking forward to seeing if Insomnia 71 would be a better day out, the same experience or a complete fumble. You will be happy to know that it was just as much fun the second time around. Please note that I was lucky enough to get my hands on Press Tickets to be able to go in and cover the event and report back to you about my time there and whether I would recommend it to you.
This section was in my previous coverage for Insomnia but just in case you missed it I will put the history of this incredible event for you to read. Founded in 1999, the Insomnia Gaming Festival originated as the I-series; a small LAN event where gamers could come together and play together.
This event heavily focuses on bringing the community together in one location for a weekend of non-stop gaming. The event has expanded over the years and gamers from all walks of life can feel welcomed to celebrate video games and pop culture. Insomnia Gaming Festival can be seen as more than just a video gaming expo thanks to the accommodation of Tabletop games, Merchandise stores, Cosplay and much more.
We were back at the NEC which is a venue I love. Mainly because it is on my doorstep, well an hour down the motorway which isn’t the end of the world. It holds many events all year around like various MCMs and of course Insomnia. It used to have EGX and Eurogamer but sadly they have moved back to London.
Hoping that one day they will return. It was based in the same hall as Insomnia 70 which was nice as I knew where I was heading and it pretty much had a similar layout which again was super helpful as I could get my bearings from the get-go. My thoughts this time round was how could they improve or keep the same excitement I felt when I came to Insomnia 70. Will my other half enjoy the event as it would be her first gaming expo and what goodies could I pick up from the various stores and vendors that were at the expo.
Like last time, I got around the whole thing in just under three hours, however, I did spend a lot more time looking at the various vendors due to having saved up some money and looking for goodies to buy for myself and presents for Christmas seeing as it is literally round the corner with the speed that this year is going at.
I didn’t use the mobile app this time as I used the maps, they had at the venue to navigate around and find where everything was. I loved the number of different things that were going on and this time I made a little game with my partner to see if she could name any cosplayers she saw and where that character was from.
This was really fun and we even managed to speak to a lot of them and get their photos, which was pretty cool. Some of the effort that must have gone into the costumes is ridiculous but it was so worth it when you can see how happy it made the cosplayer and the community that was at the event. Again, there was plenty going on from various tournaments, talks, competitions and a fair few content creators who were more than happy to have a chat.
They had voice actors from various games spanning from Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to Baldur’s Gate III. I will leave a list of the voice actors that were present for those that might want to know:
- Ben Starr: voices Clive Rosfield in Final Fantasy XVI
- Neil Newbon: voices Astarion – Baldur’s Gate III
- Faye Mata: voices Lulu – League of Legends
- Elle Newlands: voices Horizon – Apex Legends
- Devora Wilde: voices Lae’Zel – Baldur’s Gate III
- Harry McEntire: voices Hunwald – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
There was also Pyrocynical, an English commentary YouTuber who was available for a meet and greet but also had a huge merch stand that always had a long queue. For a reasonable fee, you were able to get these wonderful people’s autographs and photos and maybe a quick chat in the process. I love how these conventions can bring you face-to-face with people who voice characters that we love from the games and series that we enjoy so much. There was always a queue for the various voice actors which is lovely to see.
It was incredible seeing all the different PC builds that they showed off at the expo even to the point where one of them was a whopping £34,000. It wasn’t even made of gold and it still cost that much, it was insane. Sadly, I did miss seeing Yorkshire Tea and Monster Energy at the event this time around as it was one of the selling points for me last time around, however, that being said redbull did make an appearance to meet the energetic needs of the gamers.
Food was a bit on the pricey side but that’s to be expected seeing as you are at the NEC and a big event. It was nice to see that the Immersive area and VR /AR stuff came back as it shows people a glimpse of what direction the game is going toward in the not-to-distant future.
They also had the return of Zombieinfection where for a small fee you got a 30-minute full immersive experience that any fan of zombie apocalypses would love to take part in. This was put on again by the incredible people over at Zombie Infection who are the largest provider in the UK for live immersion when it comes to Zombies. You can find them here at www.zombieinfection.co.uk to get more Zombie action outside of Insomnia.
I also love the effort that goes into the prop design and costumes for the Zombies as well as the dedication the actors go to for the best experience out there. The racing simulators had various competitions running throughout the event and even the Army showed up and ran some activities as well as showing off a cool robot that is used out in the field to assess situations on the battlefield. I got to chat with the lovely engineer who works on them and he gave me a full description of the robots, why they are used and how they save lives daily out in the field.
It was very informative and I enjoyed learning something new. Insomnia 71 hosted the Valorant Women’s Cup over the weekend which was super fun to sit and watch. I love watching Esports and I do love a bit of Valorant so I did spend quite a bit of time watching these matches. I was sad that I missed the League of Legends community meet-up on Friday evening but hopefully next time I will get the chance to attend.
Like always there was a section where you could bring your own PC (if you bought the right ticket) or rent one out, and play all weekend long with other gamers who just want to enjoy gaming in an awesome environment with a fantastic atmosphere. There were tournaments and competitions that you could sign up for and participate in to gain bragging rights over fellow gamers, again there was Fortnite and League of Legends but one of the main games on show at this event was Tekken 8.
It has a huge stand in the main part of the expo with a good number of consoles to play the game on, there was even a huge Devil Jin statue that was epic to stand next to. He is one of my favourite characters in Tekken too. The main stage had various talks, shows and game playing all weekend long for you to be able to grab a seat and join in the fun. One thing that I always love is when they do the cosplay competitions as it’s nice seeing all the different characters reprised by fellow gamers.
Insomnia 71 was yet another amazing event and hopefully, I won’t be waiting long before I look at going to the next one. This time I might try and get my hands on a Lan ticket to spend the night at the event and see how that experience is.
Insomnia 71 Conclusion
Like i70, Insomnia 71 was another brilliant event. Plenty was on offer and going on that me and my partner spent the whole time in awe looking at the various vendors, and custom PCs and just relishing in the atmosphere that this event offered. The location of the venue is perfect and easily accessible by public transport and car.
It’s a winner that parking is still only £5 at the NEC as it makes the event more affordable for people travelling in. Sure, you could easily access it via train but with the weather as hot as it was it was nice to be in a car with air con. I’d highly recommend planning to stay for the full weekend to get the full experience and be able to attend everything that is on offer. I also loved that there were tabletop gaming areas as well as console and PC gaming areas as it caters for everyone.
You could buy board games and card games at Insomnia 71 and just sit and play them there and then. It was so hard not to spend £100s on Lorcana while I was there but I did see a fair few people playing it. I on the other hand managed to finally get my hands on a copy of Here to Slay which I will crack open this week and have a few goes with.
For people wanting to stay the whole weekend for Insomnia 71, there are local hotels and onsite camping so you have options to choose from. As mentioned above next time I think I would look into doing the package that involved the Lan area and maybe even take my own PC down though I am due an upgrade so I might look at picking up one of the bad boys I saw at the event. This way it would allow me to participate in a whole new area of the expo that I have yet to do.
This event does cater for people who might just want to head down for the day though I would look at early entry tickets to make the most of your day there as Insomnia does caters for everyone. There were a lot of merchandise stores, an area to play games and a dedicated tabletop area. Alongside the numerous stages that had things happening throughout the day and the meet and greet with creators and voice actors. Insomnia 71 was a fantastic second date and if you’ll have me, I look forward to the next one.
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