ShemFest 2017: Reflections

Another ShemFest has been and gone. The aches, pains and tiredness have just about subsided, so it is as good a time as any to reflect.

The day kicked off with Rock, Mike and myself frantically trying to ferry and wire up the hardware, whilst our guests entertained themselves with a hand of Cards Against Humanity and an introduction to the private bar.

By the end of set up, we had a Sega Saturn on the large screen TV (duel-running with an Xbox 360 if people fancied changing it up), an emulated SNES, Mega Drive, and an arcade MAME Pi (thanks to Scrumpmonkey of SuperNerdLand), and a Wii tucked in on the end.

We had somewhat underestimated just how many boxes of cables and hardware there would be. By the time the van had been unloaded, it looked like we were moving in for good. Things were beginning to look a tad challenging – as we were still ferrying boxes in when the event officially kicked off at midday. Thankfully, we had support from our guests, who we were hugely grateful to for helping us unload the remaining items.

All was left was the wiring-up project… in a darkened theatre, with no technicians available to adjust the lighting. Never a dull minute! ;^)

With all the equipment eventually set up, all that was left was for people to dive in. It didn’t take long for people to rediscover the joys of the Sega Saturn. Sega Rally seemed to get a lot of play time, as did Virtua Fighter. The arcade MAME and the Mega Drive Pis were always busy; Micro Machines seeming to be a very popular game of choice for our more… seasoned… gamers.

The carefully cultivated “home from home” feel of a darkened room with multiple video displays seemed to help ease our guests into the gaming mood.

For a group of “I’m really not too keen on this social lark”, there was a great sense of comradery, with the talkers taking up position at the front of the room, the card playing crowd in the middle of the room, and the gamers setting up camp at the back. The drink flowed, the conversation followed, and there were a lot of laughs – always a wonderful sight to see.

The F14 Tomcat pinball machine got a lot of use, as guests attempted to set a top score on what proved to be a ‘very’ fast table. The contest for the coveted “ShemFest Golden Joystick” proved to be fierce, but Kevin blew the opposition away, and went home with the prize.

A couple of welcome YouTube friends, Sargon of Akkad, and DrRandomercam managed to make it, and dived into the post Fest discussions over a pint or three.

Calling a break in proceedings, various groups slipped away to go on a Five Guys pilgrimage while we packed away the equipment, ready for the evening social. Once again, our most sincere thanks to everyone who chipped in to ferry boxes up and down the alley, as we moved towards our final form; a circle of shooting the shit, chatting and laughing over beer.

A huge, massive, enormous thank you, to everyone single person who helped make it happen. From the Kickstarter backers (who got the venue and private bar paid for to allow for it to happen at all), to the individual tickets sold that helped us carry equipment on the day. To Paul and Rock, for carting a pinball machine up two flights of stairs. To Sargon and DrRandomercam for taking the time to come visit.

And all that’s left is to reflect on memories.


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