Insomnia Gaming Festival is 72 non-stop hours of Vlogging, Cosplay & Jagerbombs

zombie cosplayer
How you'll feel after a weekend at Insomnia. (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

Insomnia is the biggest gaming festival in the UK. It essentially started out as a giant LAN party; 72 non-stop hours of gaming. Since then, the event had evolved into a smorgasbord of geekiness. Here’s the 10 things we learned while we were there.

If you walk through the Birmingham NEC on any other day, you’ll find a barren wasteland. This weekend, if you followed the aroma of Monster energy drink and exhaustion, you’ll stumble upon something quite spectacular. The event takes place every 3 months, and this weekend, the NEC saw a footfall of almost 100k for the 58th instalment of Insomnia, hosted by Multiplay Events.

The festival appeals to both hardcore and casual gamers alike. Whether you’re heading down with your rig for a 72 hour gaming marathon, to enjoy the variation of stalls and stage shows, or meet your favourite YouTuber - Insomnia caters to everyone.

Here’s what else we discovered:

BYOC is an ambiently lit cesspit.

The LAN hall is undoubtedly the focus of Insomnia. The BYOC (bring your own computer) section saw almost 3000 PCs this weekend. That’s a LOT of heat, and a lot of sweaty gamers. The hall had a bar, a number of food stalls, and if you order a Dominos, the event staff will bring it to your table. It’s like being in the privacy of your bedroom, with thousands of other people to share your shame. However, if you don’t fancy lugging your computer hundreds of miles to do something you’d just do at home, you can ignore it entirely.

BYOC - Bring Your Own Computer. 3000 PCs = a lot of sweaty gamers.

BYOC - Bring Your Own Computer. 3000 PCs = a lot of sweaty gamers. (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

It’s incredibly easy to get a beer.

Considering the NEC saw almost 100,000 people pass through it’s doors this weekend, there was rarely a queue for the bars inside the event. I also didn’t feel too judged darting in between disgruntled parents, carrying two Jagerbombs at 3 in the afternoon. So if you’re not particularly enthusiastic about the festival entertainment on any given day, getting blind drunk is always an option.

‘Vlogging’ becomes acceptable.

Let’s face it, we’ve all looked at someone talking to a backwards facing camera and thought ‘wanker.’ However, you’ll see it so much throughout Insomnia that you won’t bat an eyelid at it. You start to appreciate that a lot of the guests here are making a living out of this trend, and so it subconsciously becomes okay to do. Though, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll appear in someone’s video, looking gormless as hell. So beware of that.

Cosplay is a serious business…

I’ll level with you, I don’t understand cosplay. However, I stuck around and watched the ‘Cosplay Masquerade’ and was pleasantly impressed by the level of work that goes into the design and craftsmanship that had gone into some outfits. Good work, pervs.

Fear The Walking Nerd: Cosplayers swarm Insomnia

Fear The Walking Nerd: Cosplayers swarm Insomnia (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

…But not as serious as the pub quiz.

Oh boy. The world famous Insomnia pub quiz. Assemble your team, and strap in. The main stage is filled with 260 round tables, stacked with complimentary alcohol from publishing behemoth Bethesda. I58 saw the biggest pub quiz yet, boasting almost 2600 people. I can’t remember the last time I had to pirouette around a stretcher on my way to buy Jagerbombs, but I certainly did. If you’re not completely ruined on Sunday after the quiz, then you’ve done it wrong.

You’ll end up buying something you don’t really want.

Fact: geeks cannot resist buying crap. And 10 giant halls filled with stalls, will ensure you’ll end up buying some sort of video game or pop culture orientated shite. Whether that be a Pikachu plushie, a witty shirt, or an entire set of 4k monitors, the event will do its very best to financially annihilate you.

Always Insomnia responsibly. Unless you’re at the pub quiz.

Plushies, Pokemon & Collectables As Far As The Eye Can See

Plushies, Pokemon & Collectables As Far As The Eye Can See (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

YouTuber’s don’t give a fuck.

Another big selling point of Insomnia, is the roster of special guests that appear throughout the weekend. YouTuber’s are a hugely popular spectacle, and people in their thousands will turn up to meet their favourites. I expected a level of segregation between YouTube personalities, and the thousands of fans here to see them, but there isn’t at all. They’ll just wander around the event at their own leisure, and stop to talk to anyone. Imagine Iron Maiden wandering through the stalls of an arena before taking to the stage - fans would lose their shit. There’s no air of pretentiousness at Insomnia.

You’ll never be bored.

The Multiplay team always go all out to make sure there is something going on at all times. Insomnia boasts three stages, filled with entertainment from game shows, live demonstrations, to talk shows with internet personalities. The festival also puts on evening entertainment. A particular highlight of I58 was The Dark Room. An interactive, event hosted by Australian comedian John Robertson. The audience must come together as a team, and attempt to escape The Dark Room - an incredibly unforgiving puzzle game. Even if you’re not a gamer (I’m looking at the disgruntled parents) the live shows are hilarious regardless.

There’s always a bar in sight, too.

The Dark Room: can you escape?

The Dark Room: can you escape? (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

You’ll leave with at least 6 new friends.

The sense of community at Insomnia is incredible. If you’ve been to a music festival before, you’ll know how alcohol and shared interests will hand you some new best mates. This event is no different. YouTube and gaming can often be considered secular, and so it’s exciting to meet like-minded people. I started to run into the same faces over the weekend, until my social circle became a fucking omnishambles of people I knew and didn’t. Insomnia isn’t just a festival, it’s become a community. And it’s always looking to expand.

Insomnia: sleep is not an option.

Insomnia: sleep is not an option. (Image credit: Danielle Partis)

Insomnia by name, and by nature.

The name implies that you’re not going to get much sleep and if you manage to somehow do everything Insomnia has to offer, sleep is not an option. The expo opens at 11am, with entertainment running right through until late. There’s a casino nearby that’s open constantly, as is the LAN hall in the NEC. Insomnia is truly an incredible event.

You don’t have to be able to recite all the Pokémon by heart, or have 700 hours in Skyrim to compensate for never going outside. As long as you can stomach copious amounts of beer and the smell of 100,000 nerds, you’ll be just fine.

For details about the next Insomnia event head to the Multiplay website.