[Republished] A Day at ShemFest.

Shemfest header

Header im­age via @xzhyrax

This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared on Justin Knights per­son­al blog Grandmother’s Floor

First off I must apol­o­gize as this post is a day late be­cause even though I am al­most in my for­ties, I can­not han­dle hang­overs very well and spent most of yes­ter­day deal­ing with it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at the event but my god did I pay for it. As for the event it­self? Me and those of us who at­tend­ed had an ex­cel­lent time and I must con­grat­u­late Shemmie and Mike for what was a well or­ga­nized and fun oc­ca­sion, aside from some tech­ni­cal hic­cups with the live streams that were host­ed at the end (but I be­lieve that was down to the venue) the at­mos­phere was that of fun.

I met up with a cou­ple of oth­er at­ten­dees in Birmingham train sta­tion and we made our way down to the venue, the street that led to it lit­er­al­ly looked like a set from the Walking Dead se­ries and was haunt­ing­ly emp­ty, I did won­der at one point if we were go­ing to get jumped as we pro­gressed down it. We reached the venue and met many fa­mil­iar faces and sure enough, the con­ver­sa­tions and drinks were flow­ing as well as the retro gam­ing was well un­der­way. This was where I was caught by sur­prise be­cause I was ex­pect­ing to see a bunch of retro con­soles with the mon­i­tors but in­stead, we had a bunch of Raspberry Pi com­put­ers filled with em­u­la­tors of these won­der­ful games many of us had grown up with along with some SNES style con­trollers, small PC mon­i­tors, and a small speak­er for each. It was an awe­some set­up and I promised my­self I would have to get one and ram it full of games, it will save me a shit ton of mon­ey com­pared to buy­ing the old con­soles them­selves and hunt­ing down the games.

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Raspberry-Pi Compact Computer

One of the best parts for me was meet­ing Kate Russell. Miss Russell is a tech jour­nal­ist and works for the BBC, ap­pear­ing on the tech pro­gram Click and on the ITV pro­gram Daybreak. She has writ­ten the book Working the Cloud an­oth­er book, Elite Dangerous: Mostly Harmless and has had columns pub­lished in National Geographic Traveller. I was ex­pect­ing her to show up part way through the event and give her talk but as I was play­ing a game of Cards against Humanity (which Shemmie won) I re­al­ized she was sit­ting op­po­site me. She was wear­ing a den­im skirt and a very cool com­ic book style T‑shirt and I shook hands with her and was quite sur­prised and de­light­ed when I re­al­ized that it was her. To say she was a love­ly and pleas­ant per­son is putting it mild­ly and talk­ing with her was not only love­ly but also quite en­light­en­ing as she told me about be­ing at E3 and play­ing builds of ap­proach­ing games like Sea of Thieves. I only men­tion what she was wear­ing be­cause I was stu­pid­ly ex­pect­ing her to show up in a suit or some­thing like that to give her talk due to where she worked but that brought me to a won­der­ful re­al­iza­tion: She was one of us gamers.

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Author and Presenter Kate Russel with Undisputed Shemworld Champion Justin Knight

That pho­to was tak­en af­ter her talk which was a joy to lis­ten to as she hap­pi­ly spoke about her ca­reer and took ques­tions from the crowd, fin­ish­ing off with how be­ing at the event was her idea of fun. It was also tak­en af­ter the gam­ing tour­na­ment which took place where we all played Sensible World of Soccer. I can’t speak for the oth­er play­ers but I had­n’t played the game for about twen­ty years and I could­n’t shoot for shit, my first game I won 1 – 0, some­how, and came back to play against a re­al­ly cool dude who gave me a run for my mon­ey. We played three games and drew each one, draw­ing 0 – 0, 1 – 1 and 0 – 0 again and as a re­sult, we had to change the game to Mortal Kombat 2 so there could be no chance of a draw. I won that and the fol­low­ing game and was crowned Shemworld 2016 Champion, but I had to be hon­est that it was won with luck on my side some of the time. When I showed it to my kids the next day, they thought I was a gam­ing leg­end and as much as I tried to tell them that I got lucky in places, they did­n’t lis­ten. I took plea­sure from it though I must ad­mit, any fa­ther out there who reads this prob­a­bly knows what I’m talk­ing about as it’s nice to thought of as a hero by your children.

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Justin Knight with Allum Bokhari

I also had the plea­sure of meet­ing Allum Bokhari, known to many of us as a writer and co-editor for Breitbart Tech. I was a fan of his writ­ing and in­tro­duced my­self to him and found him to be a warm gen­tle­man and some­one who was quite hap­py to have a con­ver­sa­tion with a stranger like my­self. Much lat­er on when we were all out drink­ing he even brought me my first drink (he got it as part of an of­fer but hey) and we all hung out and talked part of the night away be­fore I checked my­self out due to slight drunk­en­ness and tired­ness set­ting in. As I wrote ear­li­er I am al­most 40 and ev­i­dent­ly I can­not han­dle my drink like I used to and the hang­over was hor­ri­ble the next day, when I told a friend what I had in par­tic­u­lar what I had been drink­ing, like Desperados, he cringed and said “WHY would you be drink­ing that stuff?” Good question.

All in all, I had a great time. It is al­ways fun to meet up with peo­ple year af­ter year, cel­e­brate this thing we all took part in to­geth­er and con­tin­ue to main­tain our own com­mu­ni­ty and net­work, I per­son­al­ly have formed many friend­ships with peo­ple over these last two years and long may it con­tin­ue. I have drift­ed away from games and as I have writ­ten be­fore, I speak up on the sit­u­a­tion in comics and at the event, there were peo­ple there, like the won­der­ful Doc and Homebuck, who agreed with me on the whole thing. This will be an on­go­ing bat­tle for many of us, we will al­ways be there to speak up against this crap where ever it may sur­face, be it in comics, games or in movies and my in­volve­ment in this had been such a plea­sure due to the peo­ple I have met at events like this.

Job well done, Shemmie and Mike, job well done.

I can only won­der what Five Guys must think of all this, I’m sure they must have made a for­tune over the last cou­ple of years.

Shemfest at­ten­dees at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Imagine via @HomeBuck_


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Justin is a hap­pi­ly mar­ried 35 year-old games writer from Northampton, UK. He loves sur­vival hor­ror games, al­most any­thing First-person Shooter-based, and pret­ty much every­thing with zom­bies. Being a life long gamer, he has now passed his much-loved pas­sion down to his chil­dren. In his spare time, Justin likes to read, work out and watch movies. He is also cur­rent­ly writ­ing his first book.

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