MeepFest: For the love of gaming
On Saturday Leeds’ Left Bank hosts a festival dedicated to all things board games. We spoke to organisers Laura Topping and Dave Taylor, who first met through their love of gaming, about what place board games have in the modern world…
Far from a one-off nostalgia trip to the times before computers controlled and consoles consumed the gaming world, it turns out there is a regular and thriving community of board gamers in Leeds and beyond. Laura and Dave Topping run Leeds Meeples, a board-gaming group that has spawned an active community in the city. “When we set up Leeds Meeples, there didn’t seem to be much out there,” she tells us. “It’s a lot easier to find someone to play games with in Leeds than it was a few years ago!
The first time Laura and Dave met they were trying to find people who might be interested in starting a board game group. A year later Leeds Meeples began and a year after that Laura and Dave got married at Left Bank. The venue then heard about Laura and Dave’s group and offered them use of the space for a one-off event. Laura explains; “I got a few friends together who are active in the board gaming community in Leeds and we decided if we were going to do an event, it was worth doing something big and exciting! We hope this will be a chance for gamers across Leeds to come together and make new friends.”
Whilst mostly appealing to the existing board game community, within which there are now many Leeds clubs, MeepFest also hopes to welcome newcomers with a mixture of modern and classic board games. “Board gaming is a very social hobby,” says Laura. “It’s as much about socialising and relaxing as it is about playing games. It’s another way to connect with each other.” To help this along on the day there will be food by Manjit’s Kitchen, beginners learn-to-play sessions, demo sessions from gaming companies Esdevium Games and Steve Jackson Games, and playtesting from District 31.
Board-gaming it seems is not in competition with the modern gaming culture and Laura emphasises how technology is vital to its resurgence. “I don’t think it would have been so easy to organise gaming groups before Twitter and Facebook – it’s so easy to reach a wide audience this way,” she says. “Because we are so active online, we find new members all the time who’ve googled ‘board gaming in Leeds’ and come to our website.”
Before we let Laura go, we had to find out what is the greatest board game of all. Of course, for an enthusiast it’s not that simple! “It’s hard to pick just a few favourite board games, as they are all really different.” Laura replies. “I’ll never turn down a game of Articulate, which is a brilliant game for large groups of people and always ends up in lots of laughter. But I also love games that are based on patience, logic and strategy, such as Dominion and Hanabi. There’s a board game for every person.”
If you fancy turning your hand to a few classic boards games and meeting new friends (although we can’t promise you will meet the love of your life), you can find out more information on MeepFest here.