Playtime 2020

Some people might tell you: “nothing good in life is free”. While this might ring true in some cases, over in Brugge they are surely trying to challenge this idea with a little game festival called Playtime. With this only being the second year this event was organized, Playtime is still a toddler compared to other gaming-related get-togethers in Belgium. But it’s free, and that means there’s nothing to stop us from at least checking it out.

Playtime is held in the Schouwburg in Brugge. While this place is usually home to things such as theatre performances or business conferences, for three days this past weekend a large chunk of the building was devoted to games and technology. The layout of the Schouwburg isn’t exactly suited for a traditional convention, with many different rooms, hallways, and stairwells across the building. Luckily Playtime counters this disadvantage nicely by having each major room be dedicated to a certain subject, with small arcade machines or consoles in the hallways to keep everything somewhat connected. Enough signs were also provided to make sure people could easily find their way through the labyrinth.

First on our list was the Retro Hall. As the name implies, you can come here to enjoy some pure gaming nostalgia, with various setups allowing you to indulge in old-school gaming activities such as Sonic or Duck Hunt. Endless fun for adults, though the most amusing part might have been seeing the younger kids enjoy consoles that got discontinued well before their generation. The Indie Hall had a similar concept, but with more modern titles. You could settle down for some Journey or Firewatch or any of the other games available. The atmosphere was cozy, but since the event is still a very small one, there was only a limited amount of consoles and as expected you had to wait around a fair bit if you wanted to have a turn playing instead of watching others. Devillé Arcade also set up a special installation with some more abstract, interactive games that were a lot of fun to try.

And for who wanted to go straight into the future, there was the VR Room. Here you could find a proper VR setup to try Beatsaber on, though once again you would have to practice some patience before being able to have a go since it was in high demand. This room also sports more information on things such as wearable technology and AI, as well as a 3D printer. Gluon Education is to thank for this and they were more than glad to answer any questions and show off their own prototypes. For anybody who is more interested in the technical sides of things, there were various informative talks held across the weekend. “Trends & The Future of Gaming” for example discussed in depth what is current in the gaming industry and what the future might hold.

Last but not least there was The Arena, where you could take center stage yourself to challenge your friends to a match in one of the games Game Mania provided and have your battle be projected on the big screen. If you’re too shy to do so, there’s more than enough room to cheer from the stands and watch some epic showdowns. Besides all this, there were a few extra things organized around Playtime, such as a special afterparty in Factor Club on Saturday, as well as workshops that allow you to try your hand at making your own game in Makey Makey or even digital arts and crafts for kids between ages four and eight over in the nearby library.

Conclusion

Playtime is still an incredibly small event, but we can already tell how much love and effort is being poured into it. While this often translates into longer cues if you want to get a turn yourself, everything about this event is free, which means a decent crowd still showed up. With the Schouwburg being located in the middle of Brugge, Playtime can definitely be recommended even for people from further away, who can make it into a day-trip to this beautiful city.

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Jessica
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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