Security are scratching their heads over how to search them. Cosplay is one thing, but the two sword-toting armour-clad cosplayers strutting proudly toward the Battersea Evolution venue are something else entirely. One's wearing a standard but nevertheless impressive suit of armour, while the other's decked out in aged bronze seemingly styled after Cthulhu. They stick out like, well, like turquoise knights in London. Yet they also fit right in, because today, the venue is filled with thousands of people, men and women young and old, who all share the same hobby: Runescape.
Sin City is the global capital of gambling. Casinos with colourful chips, well-postured croupiers and automaton pensioners plugged into slot machines. At first glance it might not seem sinister, but strip back the glamour and Las Vegas paints a sad picture - its denizens cogs in a billion-dollar machine fuelled by potentially addictive gaming. The novelty of the place can hide its true intentions.
Jagex employs over 350 people and claims not only to be the UK's biggest developer and publisher, but to be second only to World of Warcraft in the MMO genre with browser-based fantasy adventure RuneScape.
You may never have heard of RuneScape, but the free-to-play MMO has over 10 million players and has made Jagex a lot of money. So much, in fact, that the company employs around 400 people across two Cambridge studios (and one London branch) and claims to be one of the biggest online publishers not only in the UK, but in the whole of Europe.
It seemed like a nice job: to be given the opportunity to write a light-hearted piece on the first steps in the browser-based MMORPG RuneScape - an industry outsider that's quietly the Western world's second most successful MMO. Nip in, work out what everyone loves, hide my conclusions at the end of some amiable fluff, and phone my bank to tell them not to be shocked when millions of Eurogamer pounds fly into my account. I'll start with my guesses as to its popularity, then play it.
It took me endless hours of picking herbs in World of Warcraft before I decided to use real money to buy gold. I spent about fifty quid for an in-game thousand, and bought a purple epic mount. I went back and bought more as time went on; money that helped push our guild into hardcore raiding and splash out on other members. I was greedy with it as well, covering my second character in the very best.