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Subject: Origins 2012 - A Convention Noob's Thoughts rss

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The Origins Game Fair is one of North America's most prominent annual gaming conventions, supposedly second in size only to Gen Con. It takes place each year in Columbus, Ohio in late June or early July. It is however taking place right at the threshold between May and June for this year and next. I was there yesterday, June 1, 2012. This preface is not meant to patronize the well informed gamer. It is instead meant to lead into a larger post, so bear with me.

This was my first year at Origins. Heck, it was my first time at any convention. I had vaguely heard of Origins in the past, having always lived about one hundred miles south of the location. I never really thought much about it however, as it doesn't get the media attention that something like Gen Con or Comic-Con does. In fact, I've always wanted to go to Gen Con. It's really only about a four-hour drive for me. It always seemed so expensive once I factored in a hotel and eating out for a couple of days though. For this reason, I've continuously skipped out on planning any kind of trip there.

A couple of years ago I started getting into boardgames pretty heavily. Who knows why, really? I've found myself growing more dissatisfied with the current crop of video games, especially as a PC-only gamer. Turning my attention to analogue games, I've been able to use not only for recreation, but also socialization. I had some prior experience with card games from playing Pokemon and Magic back in the day. I've also been avidly collecting and playing Call of Cthulhu since its inception. I have a shelf full of Rifts and World of Darkness rulebooks from over a decade ago as well. I admittedly don't have a huge amount of boardgames just yet, and some of them I don't even particularly like, but at least it isn't a closet full of Monopoly and Life.

With that in mind, Origins started looking more and more appealing. It was close, fairly inexpensive, and catered more specifically to analogue games than something like Gen Con would. The only problem was that I had no idea what to expect from the event. Unfortunately, their website is a mess and provide very little information. The convention itself doesn't seem to get much press from outside of BBG circles either. For fear of what to expect, I bought a 1-Day Badge with the intent of grabbing some generic tickets if I needed them. Everything else was put toward spending, with the exception of breakfast on the drive up, lunch at the convention center (I love gyros!), and dinner on the drive back.

For me, for my first time, one day was more than enough. It allowed me to get my bearings, really find out what the convention was about, and what to expect from it as a whole. I probably could have gotten away with the Day Pass even, but didn't want to risk it in case there had been a neat event going on. Sadly, I didn't end up having enough time to do much outside of cruise the vendor hall and check out the art show. Maybe next year, I can dedicate some more time to actually demoing games, instead of worrying about trying to see everything I can. Then again, next year might end up being a two or three day event for me.

The only real "event" we took part in was the Paint & Take, a fun little circle of tables sponsored by Reaper Miniatures. We each had our pick of a miniature to them sit and paint. I picked a rather large--and appropriately ugly--cave troll. He's from the newer Bones line of soft plastic miniatures. I'm pretty fond of the line, actually. The figures are super cheap, but don't really seem to forsake quality at all. We sat for about twenty minutes happily painting away. I was very impressed with the Master Series paints that Reaper provided. Having only used cheap oil enamels intended for plastic model kits in the past, painting with this stuff was a dream. It spreads easily, mixes well, dries quick, and cleans up with water. Also on the table were a few washes. That was a first for me, and I think I might have made a few parts of my cave troll just a little too dark with the flesh wash. Still, it looks better than solid green. We ended up buying a starter kit of paints afterward, which came with another free Bones mini of our choice. We also grabbed a few more specialized colors with the coupon in the Origin hand-out.

As the evening started to draw closer, the crowds became thicker and the crazy costumes more frequent. I would hazard to guess that Friday night and especially Saturday are when the event really shines. I didn't mind the more relaxed atmosphere throughout Friday morning and early afternoon though. It allowed me to converse with quite a few friendly vendors, all of whom had very interesting products (and personalities). There was Steve Pack from Renaissance Fashions and Got Steam, who entertained us for quite a long while with his high quality wares and jovial stories. Then there were the guys over at Panik Productions who were showing off a very nicely formatted digital rulebook for their RPG systems Caravan and The Deadly Seven. I only wish we had had the time to swing back by for a quick game with them. We chitchatted with the lovely Kat Vee from Psycho Kitty Kreations and picked up some cute game themed and kawaii style jewelry. We stood right beside Wil Wheaton while looking through buckets of designer dice, but only nodded and smiled. I didn't know what else to say other than "I never hated your character on Star Trek". We also cruised through the art gallery, admiring the beauty on display and chatting it up with the creators. We bought a few pieces from Sara Wilkinson and Lance T. Miller before calling it a night.

For me, the worse thing about Origins was getting a handle on everything. The website is really no help, and in fact can be more confusing than not at times. The organizers really are selling themselves short by not providing an easier to navigate and understand website, both for registration and general information. The fact that they seem to rely so much on their Facebook page to distribute news only further unnerves me. Informative, easy to use, and visually pleasing websites are a professional necessity. Fad social networks are not, and do nothing but create rancor amongst those of us who refuse to even have an account on them. Please keep that in mind... y'know, all of you Origins planners reading this.

It was definitely fun overall. I spent way too much money, but it was fun nonetheless. Hopefully next year I can manage to stay for two or three days. The vendor hall alone can take up an entire day, as I've experienced. I would love to demo some of the newer games, sign up for a few of the events, and most certainly partake in the Board Room! I'll probably have to plan out a costume too... I felt so left out in my dress shirt. Now I need to get painting on all these new miniatures.
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Nomadic Gamer
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I know it's a little late
but here a link--
http://www.squidoo.com/origins-game-fair

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Matt Riddle
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also my first con (of any type) and it was awesome.
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