A few months ago I wrote a blog post about accessible gaming. The blog post detailed how the amazing charity Special Effect had opened up the world of gaming for my son Chase. Little did I know that this would start a chain of events that would culminate with us being invited to Sega Europe HQ and meeting Sonic the Hedgehog!
Shortly after writing my blog post Special Effect asked if I minded my details being passed over to David Lilley. David Lilley is the Managing Director of Gaming Events. I quickly received an email offering Chase and the family tickets to either EGX in Birmingham or EGX Rezzed in London! We’re very fond of EGX as it’s where we first discovered Special Effect. We decided to visit London as it’s much closer and also happened to be running on Chase’s Birthday. Massive thanks to David to reaching out to us and providing us with tickets for the day.
Chase and the rest of us had a great day checking out the new games as well as stopping in at the special effect stand. We then found the Sonic Mania stand. Chase absolutely loves playing Sonic Racing All Stars and immediately spotted then massive Sonic statue they had. We went over for a picture and Chase then asked to have a go of the game.
A lovely lady called Julie helped make a space for his wheelchair so he could play Sonic. We had a great chat with Julie about Special Effect and the amazing work they had done with Chase. We also talked about how much Chase loves playing Sonic All Stars Racing transformed. You can check him out in action here
At the end of Chase’s go Julie gave me her email address and said to send her details of Chase’s gaming story. And this is how we ended up with an invitation to visit Sega Europe HQ!
Visiting Sega European Head office
Fast forward a couple of months and we had a confirmed date and time to visit Sega Europe HQ. Chase (and to be honest, the rest of us) were ridiculously excited to be what we consider the European home of Sonic!
The reception at Sega HQ was amazing. Straight away we spotted the huge Sonic statue that we also saw at EGX Rezzed. We made sure we grabbed a picture once again with Sonic.
We were taken past some of the meeting rooms. All of the meeting rooms are themed based on a Sega game. I have to say Football Manager was one of my favourites as it had a massive football pitch drawn out of the floor on the meeting room. We went through to the board room and saw the absolutely massive screen Chase would later get the chance to play not one but two of the new Sonic games out for release later this year.
The Main Offices
First up was a tour round the office floor, we checked out a few of the other meeting rooms and said hello to lots of people working in graphics, PR, Law and HR.
We also went in the most amazing room that was filled to the brim with Sonic merchandise!
Back around the office again there was the most amazing area filled with retro consoles and games as well as a Virtua Striker arcade machine.
A full size tennis table caught Brooke’s eye and she wanted to have a match against one of us.
There was the most amazing 8 bit art wall here covered with loads of my favourite Sega retro console characters. Alex Kidd, Streets of Rage, Altered Beast, Golden Axe and Echo the dolphin were just some that we spotted.
We made our way into the office break room. There we stopped to have a drink whilst the kids had a biscuit each. Even the toilets had the most amazing Jet Set radio art on them
Testing Games at Sega European Head Office
Our next stop was a floor down to the mega top-secret testing floor. This is where staff play the new games all day to find any bugs and glitches. Here we got to meet up with Julie again (the lady we met at Rezzed) as well as one of the Senior games testers. We got to ask loads of questions about games testing. Chase used his VOCA to ask “how much does it cost” at the time I thought he was asking about the cost to buy the game but looking back I think he may have been wondering how much it costs to make/develop the games. No photos here because it’s so top-secret! It was great to spend time chatting to real games testers and finding out more about the job they do. Chase has told me since he would love to test video games for a living. I’m now slightly regretting that I became a Dispensing Optician rather than a video games tester.
We then went back up to the top floor where we spotted yet more amazing Sonic related stuff, even the workplace notices and phones!
Time for Chase to play some Sonic!
After lunch the PS4 was turned on and Chase got to play both the currently unreleased Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces! He loved playing both game but especially loved Sonic Forces. Again I’m not allowed to show any pictures of the game footage but I can share with you Chase’s face whilst he was playing!
Chase got to play several levels on both games. He’s now really excited for release date so he can play again.
Just as we thought our visit was finishing Sega had yet more up their sleeve for us. Someone popped their head round the board room door and said there was someone else who wanted to meet us….. and through came Sonic the Hedgehog! Both Chase and Brooke were so ridiculously happy when Sonic came in
We grabbed lots of photos with Sonic, even one where Chase managed a thumbs up.
We all the said bye to Sonic and thanked him for coming to see us. Sega then very generously gave Brooke and Harper their own Sonic plushes. Chase was given two Sega goody bags filled to the brim with Sonic merchandise!
We then said our goodbyes and thank you’s to everyone before heading home. Chase (and everyone else) had the most amazing time at Sega Europe. Chase used his VOCA when he got home to say he was really happy and visiting was exciting. My 3-year-old has asked when can Sonic come round our house for tea!
A huge Thank You to Sega European Head Office
I can’t even begin to say how grateful we are to Sega Europe for providing the most amazing visit to their offices. We all feel very privileged to have been invited and are extremely thankfull for everyone’s generosity. We would love to say and extra special thank you to Julie for spending so much time with us at EGX Rezzed and at the Sega offices. Also a huge thanks as well to Kerry and Sarah from PR who spent almost all day with us. Such a once in a lifetime opportunity won’t ever be forgotten and we are all so truly grateful.
Who knows Chase may even return one day, if you ever need someone to test how easy the games are to access for those with a disability, he’s your man!