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Hey there, Sassy Gamers!
Today I thought I’d take a break from my usual focus of writing articles and reviews about Magic the Gathering and talk about an event I attended on the 24th of July instead. Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in a pop-up event in London by a creative agency influencer group that I signed up with some months ago, known as “YRS TRULY.” The event in question was a collaboration between Team GB and Japanese multinational video game developer & publisher Sega. This event served as a celebration of the Olympic Games as well as marketing and publicity for the upcoming game, “Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game”, which Sega released roughly a year ago in Japan, but due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, had been unable to release worldwide until a little over a month ago, on the 22nd of June, 2021.
Admittedly I was initially rather hesitant about the idea of going, as I had suffered an ankle injury in late May and still hadn’t fully healed up at the time, meaning I was somewhat concerned about how capable I’d be at navigating the event. Thankfully though, with some motivational reassurance about my capabilities and recovery from my fiancée, I decided to take the risk and jumped at the opportunity. This was the first time I’d ever been invited to an event of this scale, so I was still anxious about many aspects of the trip, but I agreed and made preparations to take the train to London. A solo trip to a place as busy as London was something else that I’d never attempted on my own before, and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage it, let alone how I’d manage to navigate London’s overwhelming and confusing subway system. Still, I pushed my fears to one side and set about focusing on just how good this could be for me instead. I mean, I was being given a chance to get my name in front of other influencers and content creators, talk shop with them, and hopefully, learn some new things myself! That’s huge!
So, my journey began at 7:15 am after a cold dawn had become a much warmer morning. I had set off on the first train and quickly found that my nerves and fears had subsided because there was no longer anything to be scared of, as by this point, there was no turning back… London had called me, and I had answered that call! After a mostly uneventful three-hour-long train ride followed by a 40-minute diversion on the underground (which was just as complex as anticipated), I finally arrived at the colossal Westfield Shopping center. I knew the event was somewhere in this area, but the exact location was not something I could easily pinpoint, as the shopping center itself is close to 2 MILLION Square Feet in size! In addition, it was hard to process the vast array of shops lining every wall, selling everything from bicycles to excessively overpriced watches. As a small-town girl, I was definitely feeling out of my element.
I managed to make it there after asking for a few directions, thanks to the handler’s help that I was put into contact with. I managed to arrive safely at the pop-up event and found that its scale was surprisingly compact compared to the sheer size of everything else I had been greeted within London. Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air; A small and isolated area nestled in the corner of a much larger beast. Within the event was a small ice cream stand, a large screen offering a live feed of the Olympic games broadcast, and a gaming van which was still being set up by the time I arrived. There was also a climbing wall and a table tennis area, both of which I recognized as being a tad incompatible with my ankle injury. However, they still provided a good source of entertainment during my brief vape breaks, where I could stand and watch a number of perilous climbs and enthralling table tennis rallies.
After a short period of time taking in the spectacle being arranged around me, I was greeted by my handler for the event. She was a member of the Full Service Entertainment Media PR company, Indigo Pearl, who were responsible in a major way for this event as Sega is a client of theirs. We chatted for a few minutes. Even though she was extremely welcoming and friendly, I was still rather panicked and kept repeatedly stumbling over my words at first, possibly due to this being the first person I had met who actually works in the Games Industry. I had no idea what to say! Eventually, though, I managed to state my name, what I do for work, which website I write for, (yay SassyGamers!), and just how thrilled I was to be there.
I quickly fell right back into my comfort zone as we talked about a large variety of familiar topics. We talked about games, about movies, about which Disney Princess was our favorite, and about our favorite stories from Horror Mangaka Junji Ito. Afterward, we decided to grab a cup of coffee, which was deeply useful at the time, as I had already been awake for a little over 8 hours and was definitely feeling the exhaustion of the day, which had only just begun.
Once we returned, the event was in full swing. The gaming van had been set up and had lines of both kids and adults alike, all waiting in hushed anticipation to get hands-on with the official video game. Much more important to me personally was the fact that Sonic the Hedgehog (or at least a wonderfully designed mascot costume of Sonic) had joined the festivities! At first, I felt somewhat hesitant queueing for a picture with Sonic, understanding that it would have been best to let the younger attendees get their pictures taken before me. Still, after checking with my handler to ensure that everyone would definitely get their opportunity (regardless of where I was in the line), I eventually got my picture with The Blue Blur himself! We made a buddy cop picture, and we dabbed, which I was ensured is still absolutely relevant and not a dead meme at all.
After our Sonic photoshoots, we took a break for lunch, where I enjoyed a meal with a few other influencers and got the opportunity to talk about what sort of content we make. A wide array of content creation variants presented themselves, from Dungeons and Dragons streamers to content designed to elevate the voices of minority groups in gaming, to TikTok and Instagram video makers. It was an incredibly refreshing time, getting to talk about topics I’m so passionately interested in with other people who are just as enthused about the topic.
When we returned to the event, we each got a chance to get some hands-on with the game itself, which I was very eager to experience. I tried 3 events in my half-hour window, including the 400M Relay, Judo, and Beach Volleyball modes. Each mode was enjoyable in its own right, but judo felt like it had a surprising amount of depth to it, thanks in part to a fun countering system, alongside some special attacks which almost felt like Street Fighter super combos! It was definitely the highlight of the game from what I could see and is a mode I would gladly see fleshed out into its own game should Sega ever give it a go.
With that, the day was finally starting to wrap up. It was hastily approaching 4:00 pm, and I had a long train journey ahead of me, so our little group exchanged social media handles and said our goodbyes. These were the first people I had ever met in person who do exactly what I’ve been doing with social media. It was incredible to hear about their experiences with the successes and failures that come with the territory. Although looking back on it now, it still doesn’t quite feel like it actually happened! Before we all left, however, we were each given a high-quality Team GB drawstring bag from the event organizers, which contained a baseball cap, a beanie, some sweatbands, a water bottle, and some information fliers all well made and sporting the same Team GB branding. It definitely helped make me feel extra special at the time, almost like it made me part of an exclusive club!
Overall, the Sega x Team GB event was, to me at least, a resounding success. It was wonderful to see how clearly the attendees were enjoying themselves, and getting to experience it myself was beyond belief! It was a day of firsts, too; My first ever influencer event, my first time going to London solo, and of course, my first time being given the luxury and the privilege of meeting THE Sonic the Hedgehog. It was the type of event that I would definitely love to attend again, and I sincerely hope I will be given a chance to do so. Honestly, the event reassured me and helped me believe that what I do (in regards to my streaming, my writing, and the voice I have in gaming) is something to really be proud of. I love what I get to do, and this event really reminded me just how much I love doing it.