Parents all want, pretty much, the same thing for their kids. It's all university, professional career, kids and retirement near the sea. So what happens when a ‘bad seed' comes along and decides that being a surgeon is a bad idea and that playing games for the rest of your live is a good idea? Luckily, Craig Fletcher's parents backed him 100% and now ‘Wizzo' is the Managing Director of the UK's biggest gaming organisation, Multiplay. KitGuru wishes it had packed a wider lens when visiting Multiplay i51. This is getting REALLY big.
Running a small LAN for your mates might seem more like ‘fun' than the best way to build a multi-national, multi-million dollar empire, but you'd be wrong.
Even more annoyingly, not only is Craig a bit of a business guru – he's also a genuinely nice chap. Sure, he's had as much fun as the next geek at these events over the past 17 years, but his family always push hard to support local charities and, this weekend, the drive was for the Godiva Appeal to help blind and partially sighted people enjoy life more (Craig's the smug sod on the left, the cute one on the right is a puppy).
When Ricoh offered to sponsor a £113 million, 32,000 seater stadium for Coventry, they would have imagined that football matches would have been player there. A dispute over payments has seen Coventry City football team take their jumpers down to Northampton and there is a chance that they will never come back.
Coventry City's loss is Multiplay's gain, it would seem.
“This arena is absolutely fantastic for us”, said Multiplay's operations guru, Stewart Fletcher – Craig's brother and right hand. “We always knew that with the right venue, we could increase the number of visitors over a weekend well past the 10,000 mark, and i51 looks like it might see the turnstiles clicking almost 20,000 times over the course of the Easter bank Holiday weekend”.
“While i51 has been amazing, we know that i52 over the August Bank Holiday will be even better”, said Stewart. “Now that space isn't limited, we have big plans”.
The Arena, entrance way and overall set up for i51 are very impressive – and on a grand scale. Truly a gaming paradise.
On a human level, running such a massive event takes lots of fuel, determination and communication. Here are some neat behind-the-scenes shots from the Multiplay Management Hub.
That's the personal side of things. Under the rug/radar. The visible front line looks different.
In the first shot, Steve ‘Shed Boy' Wilson balances his enormous brain while considering which button to press next in order to make Multiplay work.
But what you have to remember with the way that Insomnia has grown, is that we're not just talking about one main stage. In the main exhibition hall, there's another stage. When we snapped it, the masses were being professionally messaged by super hunk Sam Deans (right) – full time combat expert and part time multimedia guru.
The food on offer at Multiplay i51 was truly awesome. Fresh, loads of variety and – for a change with a major venue – reasonably priced.
Stacks of prizes, enormous entrance ways for the thousands of people who keep coming and going and – in the aerial shot – Yvonne ‘Mamma' Fletcher ensuring the smooth flow of comfort food.
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KitGuru says: Without doubt, Multiplay i51 is the biggest gaming event that the UK has ever seen – and there's plenty more to come.