Housed in a huge room at the back of the Museum, PLAY it! is suitable for gamers aged around 5+, super-friendly and completely accessible to those with limited mobility, including wheelchair users.
Consoles are grouped together in rows, squares and in the case of the Halo multiplayer area, a huge circle. There is masses of space in between banks of tables, and there are plenty of chairs, so you really can arrange yourself (and your mates) however you want to sit and play or watch.
We were treated to a lot of cosplayers dressed up as game characters last night - great fun and it makes for some interesting photo's!
Fantastic to see Skate there from Streets Of Rage, watching Ryu from Streetfighter playing Streetfighter, and we even had a fantastic Vaultgirl - although I didn't spot Fallout. The Princesses added a touch of glamour to the evening - I felt quite underdressed.
The Daedric Prince and the Halo Masterchief were particularly impressive - obviously popular with the ladies in his uniform there...
One of the best things about PLAY it! is that entry is limited. We were at a preview event, but numbers are kept to a sensible level, so you should never have to wait to find something you want to play.
Children are very welcome, it's recommended for over 5's, and we've found everyone chats to our 6 and 7 year olds and plays games against and with them quite happily. One of the joys of PLAY it! is that you can get a multiplayer game any time - there are 12 screens for the multiplayer Halo, and at least 4 of the 4-player games set up for you to join in, plus all of the 2 player games have 2 controllers.
There are some areas specific to a particular genre, character or series - this year they include Minecraft, car racing, LEGO games, Sonic the Hedgehog, Disney and Batman (and a few more besides).
There is also wall of consoles through history - we had 2 of the teenagers with us this time, and their earliest game memories are the original Playstation. Great for them to be able to actually try out an Atari and a Sinclair Spectrum, rather than look at photos or videos.
One of the things I was looking forward to trying again after a short play last year was the Oculus Rift. This time we were playing Rabbids VR-Ride and had a moving seat. It didn't disappoint.
Gaming Daddy Of 2 above did much better than me - I nearly fell off my chair when the Rabbids were going over a precipice, which was more hilarious than embarrassing, there were plenty of laughs all evening. Some people do feel nauseous, and children are not allowed to use the Oculus Rift at PLAY it! until they are over 13 - which hopefully won't be too disappointing.
PLAY it! opened to the general public today (25th March) until 17th April 2016. It is hosted by the Museum Of Science And Industry, Manchester city centre (20 minutes walk from Piccadilly Station). Entry to the museum is free, but donations are welcomed.
Entry to PLAY it! is by timed entry ticket, and booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Daytime sessions are £4 for 90 minutes (£10 family of up to 4 people, up to 2 adults and 2 under 16). Evening sessions are 7-10pm 18+ only and cost £8. An all day pass costs £12 per person. For more details and to book PLAY it! online see the website. All players aged under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
I'll leave you with the Daedric Prince from Elder Scrolls and Skyrim, proving that all anyone wants to really do is play Guitar Hero like a boss...
We were given free entry to the preview evening in return for this post.