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8 things to do, see and play at the London Games Festival

By Time Out contributors
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Step away from the tangled controllers and into a city-wide celebration of gaming with Mike Divers eight-bit guide to the London Games fest

The one for a multiplayer sesh:
Trafalgar Square Games Festival

If London looks like a scene from ‘Ready Player One’ on Saturday, that’ll have something to do with the Trafalgar Square Games Festival. The mass takeover of this public space will introduce interactive and playable zones between the plinths. Test the latest in augmented reality tech, and see if you can beat a pro-gamer at their own, erm, game. Trafalgar Square. Charing Cross tube. Sat Apr 7. Free.

Venus Libido

The one for wannabe game developers: Jam for Change

Think you’ve got a great idea for a video game? Jam for Change offers an opportunity to collaborate with developers to build your own, starting with a massive ‘jam’ session. Make music, art and throw together ideas for a video game – and the final product will be sold in support of Women’s Aid. It’s your fantastic concept, not technical experience that’s needed, people will be on hand to help with the hardware. Newspeak House, 133 Bethnal Green Rd. Shoreditch High St Overground. Sat Apr 7-Sun Apr 8. Free, register in advance.

The one that’s just a massive party: Games Festival Rumpus

Eight hours, seven rooms, a cavalcade of unforgettable experiences. If you can get a ticket for the all-night Games Festival Rumpus, you’ll be treated to an all-sensory extravaganza that only the bold of imagination would typically connect with video games. Look out for acrobats, electrifying bands, DJs, jesters and jokers, roving circus artists and… a dragon. Sure. What’s a party without a dragon, after all?
Islington Metal Works, 7 Torrens St. Angel tube. Fri Apr 6. 10pm-6am. £25 (now sold out, but you might be able to nab one from the London Games Festival website).

The one for dressing up: Games Character Parade

Whether you choose to walk the streets dressed as Solid Snake or Samus, or simply to witness the remarkable sight of living video game avatars marching past you, the Games Character Parade is an essential part of the London Games Festival. Welcoming experienced cosplayers and newcomers, the parade really revels in the community spirit of video games. Sonic and Mario, strolling together… it’s mass hysteria on the streets. Sat Apr 14. Starts 12.30pm at Guildhall Yard. Free.

The one for analogue gamers: Board Game Club

You can’t go wrong with a bit of rainy day Monopoly (and some harsh financial realities for any children in the room). But sometimes, it’s nice to just be an adult around other adults – while getting a bit too competitive over board games. That’s what this club offers: attendees can pick from a selection of table-top and face-to-face games (probably not Monopoly), with fellow board nerds who enjoy a roll of the dice. Basement Bar @ Every Hotel. Piccadilly Circus tube. Apr 12. Free, but register in advance at boardgameclub@playtimepr.com.

The one for families: Power Up

Returning to the Science Museum for a third year, Power Up brings together some 180 consoles and a New Mexico landfill site’s worth of retro games. Play titles titles spanning the past 40 years (Pac Man, Pong, Mario Kart, they’re all here), with leaderboards tracking the best performances. For the kids, there’s fun puzzle games and Sonic; and the evening sessions should see some serious ‘Street Fighter’ bouts going down. Science Museum. South Kensington tube. Until Sun Apr 15. Ticket prices vary depending on session lengths. Adults-only evening passes £12. 

The one with all the new releases: EGX Rezzed

London’s biggest public video games expo EGX Rezzed is three days of new game discoveries, giddy cosplayers and bloodshot eyes in front of flickering screens. You’ll find experimental projects (there was an interactive coffin one year) rubbing shoulders with the next breakout smash hits, as well as big names in gaming showcasing their work before it’s officially been released. If you’ve never so much as held a SNES console, it’s a little hardcore, but for ‘gamer’ gamers, it’s bliss. Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane. Shadwell Overground. Fri Apr 13-Sun Apr 15. Day tickets £17.50, three-day pass £40.

The one that will change the way you think about gaming: Now Play This festival

Somerset House’s three-day festival is a chance to interact with thoughtful, experimental games – both new and 1990s retro – that draw from the world we live in. This year, Bafta-winner Dan Hett premieres The Loss Levels, an interactive examination of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. Somerset House, Strand. Temple tube. Fri Apr 6-Sun Apr 8. Tickets from £6.50 to £35.

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