As we spoke about on the Podcast last week, this Saturday there was a Monster Hunter London event. Consisting of around a hundred Monster Hunter players in one very sweaty hall, the evening was a lot of fun and inspired me to write this blog post. Below you’ll find an explanation of what went on on the night, as well as what it has lead me to want to do in the future. Enjoy!
It’s hard to describe what I expected of the MHCUK: ‘Jingle In The Tundra’ event. Monster Hunter, especially in Japan, is a social phenomenon and attracts many of these style of gatherings: getting a bunch of people together in one area to play multiplayer Monster Hunter together. It’s hard to imagine something doing that over here, especially given that Monster Hunter doesn’t seem quite as popular over here as it does in the East (not that it’s unpopular here in the UK, but just that it’s so incredibly popular in Japan).
It was thinking about that that I apprehensively jumped on the tube to Baker Street – all the while, trying to imagine what to expect. I’d been to MCM Expo in May and knew the type of numbers events like this could attract, but was still worried. What if there were a really awkward number of players, with five of us sat around a dimly lit table for 6 hours? What if I got there, and was the only one not in the ‘inner circle’ – awkwardly introducing myself to people and explaining how crapp I was at the game?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
On arrival I immediately felt at ease – being greeted by seven or so guys, all with their 3DS’ out, chatting about past events and the thrill of the game. I felt so at home! I immediately was glad of my decision to come out, and excited to meet some new people and play one of my favourite 3DS games with other people passionate about the game.
We were led downstairs to a basement, and after being greeted by a huge Mario, I was really impressed with all the Monster Hunter decorations and branded displays. From the massive posters to the collection of props and tvs, it was good to see that MHCUK and Capcom had really put on a well thought out event, and gone to extra effort to make it so there was lots to do for those who didn’t want to game for six hours straight. I think this was a really good move – it made the event feel officially endorsed, and though not necessary it was nice to be surrounded by cool pictures / decorations.
As well as game playing, there were other Christmassy events – a secret santa and a baking competition – but the main focus was gaming, and naturally that was great fun. Monster Hunter lends itself so much to social play: with it’s focus on co-operation rather than competitiveness. It means you can play for hours on end and not get bored – handy, as the event was six hours long! It’s both testament to the organisers and to the game that it was still fun for that length of time. As well as being let loose to meet and play, there were also structured solo competitions, with time trials to completing missions the fastest, which made for a nice change of pace.
I think what the day really showed is that there’s a genuine thirst in London for community gaming events. It actually made me really proud to be there, as I felt like I was part of a community spirited event, with like minded people with similar passions. It also didn’t matter that I wasn’t very good at the game, nor indeed very far into it – as everyone there I met and spoke to was really eager to help, and I think enjoyed the feeling of cooperating to help those with less experience. It”s such a great time to be into gaming as a hobby: no longer are these type of events seedy, dingy affairs: instead it’s a really fun, widely accepted thing to be doing, with people of all sorts coming along.
I’d love to go to similar events in the future: though it’s hard to think of games with a similar focus on co-operation rather than competitiveness. I think ‘party’ multiplayer games could work really well, like Smash Bros or Mario Kart, where the focus is on quick bursts of multiplayer fun, with an easy to drop in / out system. That said, Monster Hunter was perfect for an event like this, and I’ll definitely be following MHCUK for more announcements and events that are happening (and you should too!). And it’s made me get back into a game I had all but abandoned months ago, and what could be better than that?