The first steps to becoming a Gamesmaker were, like any new job, based in training! The preparation for all volunteers was fairly similar and we were told that it was more than likely an on the job learning experience. LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) communicates to all of its new recruits through an online database website called Games Maker Zone. Provided with a username and password you can control the dates and times required for training which suits you. This was a really useful method as there were no costly phone calls and no classical music playing in your ear for half an hour whilst on hold; it was so easy and simple!
I had arranged my first orientation training session for 5th February at Wembley Arena. This day happened to have the most severe weather we had seen this year! Looking out of my window the night before, a dark cloudy mass lingered in the sky. I knew it was going to be bad weather, but I wasn’t actually expecting it. The next morning, I shot out of bed to my window to see what awaits me. A thick blanket of snow. Double layering every item of clothes possible I left the house resembling the Michelin Man. I thought this was going to be the worst journey of my life! I just hoped the transport was still running. Thankfully the busses, trains and tube were all on time just perhaps a little slower. Arriving at Wembley Central Tube station I slid and shuffled my way to the venue on an ice sheet. It was a huge sense of relief when I arrived! My feet were soaked, I was twice my size for all of the extra padding and I was frozen.
Surprisingly there were not as many empty seats as I had expecting given the weather, the arena was full! The atmosphere was great; everyone was introducing themselves to each other and talking about their Olympic expectations. It felt like a big show was about to start, everyone was excited!
There were big lights, loud music, short inspirational films and famous people. It really was a show they had put on! I think the main point of this mass training session was to get all the Gamesmakers inspired and enthusiastic about the games. I spent the whole three hours thinking that the stage host was Gary Linker when it was actually Jonathan Edwards. An easy mistake? The staging was simple; it was a raised block in the centre of the arena with a couple of purple sofas on top. Above the stage was a huge 4 way screen which showed the presenter and guests close up as not all of the participants could actually see what was happening on stage due to the 360 degrees seating plan.
The presentation was very corporate heavy. The audience was introduced to one of the leading managers of McDonald’s who went on to explain how their company are official sponsors and are working closely alongside LOCOG to make this the world’s best Olympic games. Similarly, we were regularly reminded that Cadbury’s are the official treat providers (Although I saw no treats throughout the entirety of the games).
There was a comedy streak running throughout the training. A mock news show repeatedly interrupted the seemingly natural discussion between Jonathan Edwards and his guests on the sofas. It created a humorous and largely exaggerated illusion of what we expect to see happen throughout the Olympics. I have quite a short attention span and I was entertained and informed for an hour or so, but it did become quite repetitive, maybe brainwashing is a method LOCOG feel is effective?
The main point pushed throughout the training is that the success of the games rests on our shoulders, which I felt was a fair and realistic point. I don’t think the training was quite worth the hassle it took to get there, but it was another box ticked on my way to becoming a Gamesmaker. I received a handbook and was advised to go through the sections and become familiar with the topics for the next training session. Briefly looking through the guide, it explains the venues, basic health and safety, sustainability, communication methods, lots of acronyms to learn and finally uniform guidelines.
The uniform was unveiled on stage by two youthful athletic looking models. It was not the most fashionable catwalk I have ever seen. They were wearing deep purple tops with poppy red collars underneath matching coloured jackets. On the bottom, not so flattering beige trousers and grey trainers, accessorised with poppy red laces. Certainly not the nicest outfit I had ever worn. I think Jonathan Edwards might have even joked about the colour selection but he was strongly selling the benefits of the material used. Again, a huge sponsor was mentioned throughout, Adidas, who has designed and manufactured the uniform for all of the Gamesmakers. I joked about the hideousness of the uniform, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to wearing it!