History of the Dudley Bug Ball

Dudley Bug Ball was conceived in 1995 as part of my remit as a RPGA Regional Director (also helped by the knowledge that my wife Sue had certain organisational and admin skills).  Both working for Albright and Wilson (once a multi-national chemical company now absorbed into other corporates), we made use of their local social club.

  • May 1996 – DBB 1 – A&W Social Club – Attendees about 80 with support from the Black Country Role Playing Society (BCRPS).  Games played that first year included AD&D and Call of Cthulhu.

With the success we had it was agreed we would do it again the following year.  This time a friend Matt Roberts worked at the local college and we moved venue.

  • May 1997 – DBB 2 – Dudley College – We now had over 150 attendees with the BCRPS again assisting (and would go on to assist at further events).  We included miniatures gaming with a DBA tournament.

We decided we now needed a special guest as we had introduced trophies and a charity raffle.

  • May 1998 – DBB 3 – Dudley College – Attendees now hit over 200 and we introduced live re-enactors on the grassy area to the side of the college.  Our special guest was Michael Sheard – his first of many appearances.

As we approached the organising of DBB 4 all was not well with the college, with the college caterers being dispensed with a month before the event.  Catering was taken up by ourselves with Sue and her mom and Bev Barker stepping in with burgers and chilli.

  • May 1999 – DBB 4 – Dudley College – with over 250 attendees various games were played and Michael Sheard was joined by Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus (creators of Chivalry & Sorcery) as special guests.

This was also the year I effectively left the RPGA as I was now running Brittannia Game Designs Ltd, who had acquired the IP of Chivalry & Sorcery.  BGD Ltd would go on to sponsor further DBB events.

It was also the year that Dudley College advised they would not confirm availability the following year.

The hunt for a new venue was on and quickly found at Rowley Sixth Form College.

  • May 1999 – DBB 5 – Rowley College – attendance settled at 250ish, Michael Sheard and Ed Simbalist as special guests with various traders.

The venue worked so we booked for the following year.

  • May 2000 – DBB 6 – Rowley College – approaching 300 attendees we again entertained Michael Sheard (now becoming a fixture) and Ed Simbalist.  We also invited Red Slap Creatives with Karen McNeill and Andrew Hepworth for an art show.

We then discovered Dudley College had acquired Rowley College and a new venue was needed.

This was the point an offer was made by John Brown along with Fiona Kyle, to utilise an option to host an event at the Hilton Metropole at the NEC.

Dates were set, work began, this was to be the biggest DBB todate, moving from a one day event to a two day event.

The original blurb for the event:

11th & 12th May 2002
Hilton Metropole, Birmingham

“It just got bigger…..”
DBB is now a residential SF, Fantasy & Historical Extravaganza

Come along and enjoy the Seventh Bug Ball, now Residential in a plush 4 Star Hotel

Events including Organised games including Role Playing Games, LARP, Wargames,
Board Games and much much more.

Venue:        Hilton Metropole, Birmingham, Nr the NEC (10 minutes drive from Birmingham International Airport using hotel courtesy coach, 10 mins walk from Birmingham International Train station and 5 mins
drive from nearest motorway junction)

Time:                Commences 9.30 am 11th May until 12th May 2002

Over 16’s –         £ 6.00 per Day,         £ 10.00 weekend pass
Under 16’s –         £ 3.00 per Day,      £ 5.00 weekend pass

Accomodation – £40 per Person B&B, £75 for two Nights (Sat & Sun)
(Based on 2 people sharing, single room supplement £5 per night)

In the manner of UK Games Expo we had about 3000 turnstile numbers and even Games Workshop had a display at the event (we thought this was a right feather in the cap).

However, the pressures of work, running a games company in our spare time, work at church and having two small children finally caught up with us and Sue and I were effectively burnt out.

Move on five years, work pressures have eased, we are running a church youth club with a good little gaming group, Michael now 10 playing RPGs and WH40K.  Then tragedy struck in the October and we lost Michael. Let’s call the years immediately following our wilderness years.

I started putting product out on One Book Shelf in 2011 and started writing again.  Slowly gaming life resumed.  The round of choosing colleges for Katy came around then choosing a university.

Finally, Katy was at Uni and Sue and I looked around, just the two of us in the house and said “Shall we do something silly”?

Thus was born the concept of resurrecting the Dudley Bug Ball.

So here we are, Sue and I have bought on board Nimrod and Linda Jones to the team.  The venue has been booked, we shall have trophies, the “Mickies”, and a select number of traders.

  • DBB 8 – The Second Coming will be aimed at Indie Games, Board Games and having fun.
  • DBB 9 – The Bug Bites Back now for the full weekend!

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