This game fair is put on and run by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA). It began as an outlet serving gaming of all kinds – miniatures gaming, board gaming, collectible card games, LARPing, role-playing, and many other fun activities!
Second only in size to GenCon and being presented by GAMA, the Origins Game Fair is a showcase for game manufacturers, a tune up if you will, leading in to GenCon. Every year GAMA holds an Origins Award Ceremony, presented by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, the winner taking home a Calliope Award.
This year’s Origins Game Fair ran last week, from Wednesday, May 30, 2012 through Sunday, June 3, 2012. It featured a multitude of Guests of Honor. The special guests of Honor we none other than Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and Adrienne Wilkinson.
Additional Origins Game Fair 2012 celebrities included “Gaming Guests of Honor” featuring Rob Schwalb (Game Design), Jeff Tidball (Game Design), Sandra L. Garrity (Artist), and Aaron Allston (Author).
We, my husband, our eldest, and a friend, arrived that Wednesday afternoon; us from New Jersey, and our friend from Chicago. We checked into our hotel, the Columbus Drury Inns & Suites, and then proceeded to the adjoining convention center to get our convention passes, event passes, and our generic tokens.
Although the convention “officially” started on Thursday, there was plenty of open gaming and demos being played in the Miniatures Hall, the Battletech Pods were up and running, there were plenty of Role-Playing games to be played as well as. It would not be Origins for us without losing hours at the Battletech Pods, and that of course started the SECOND that all the dust settled.
We had a role-playing event that evening at 8pm called, “Are You a Werewolf?” but for the four hours prior to that, well, at least three and one half were spent at the pods.
We started our evening events by playing a game of “Are You a Werewolf?” For this simple game, all that is required is to gather 11 – 15 people in a circle, a moderator, and a specific deck of cards. The moderator shuffles the deck and then hands a card to each of the players. The card will inform the player of if they are a villager, a seer, or a werewolf.
No one is to the see your card, and through a question and answer session, “villagers” are weeded out via “lynching” due to the disbelief of the village – they believe you are the werewolf due to suspicious activity, a dislike of your answers and involvement, or through being killed by he (or she) who actually is the werewolf.
The seer’s job is to know for certain who is or is not a werewolf through “secret” interaction with the moderator and to then take that information and help to sway the villagers on to a correct path of identifying the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” amongst them.
From “Are You a Werewolf” we concluded our first evening at Origins with more Battletech pods. What can we say, we are hopelessly addicted to the pods! They were running a single elimination “gun slinger” competition where two players were paired off, one kill, loser goes home. I should have won my match because I killed my opponent; however, since I took too much “splash damage” and was also killed, I was also eliminated.
Let me now preface our situation by saying it’s going on 11pm at this point and our 9 year old is VEEEEERRRYYYY tired. All she needed to do was get eliminated and we would take her back to the room. Well, as her luck would have it, of us four, she was the only one to survive! With a headshot she defeated her opponent! She was not about to last another round, so she graciously bowed out, taking 3rd place this evening, and we retired.
Thursday, started for us with a hearty breakfast at our hotel. From there we went to the convention hall for a demo event of a long sought after game called “Leviathan” from Catalyst Games. Basic premise of the game centers on the Wright Brothers never inventing the airplane, and Nikolai Tesla inventing anit-gravity (instead). It can easily be called a “Steampunk” game; it marries your classic hex based table top war game with airbourne warships, battleships in the sky. Very simple, very easy to learn, we all enjoyed it immensely.
From “Leviathan”, we wandered the “Great Hall”, checking out all the wares, and games, attire –both for sale by venders, and those partaking in cosplay this day. We of course ended up at the “Paint ‘n’ Take” tables. The “Paint ‘n’ Take” tables were graciously sponsored by Reaper Miniatures, Wyrd Miniatures, Warlord Games, Zvezda, Sgt Major Miniatures, and Rebel Minis.
As you arrive at the “Paint ‘n’ Take” area, you will receive one free miniature with your convention badge to paint and keep. The volunteer staff working the tables is always open to help you with any questions and to offer hints and tips if you seem stuck.
After “Paint ‘n’ Take”, we strolled the Great Hall some more, and then my daughter decided that she wanted to go to the “kids’ room”. I have to admit, Origins Game Fair is one of the most family friendly gaming conventions that I have been to. Their Kids’ Programs and Kids’ Room are run by teachers, parents, caregivers.
All kids are welcome, and as the Game Fair Program says, “Kids five years and older can stay and play with or without their parents or guardians”; children under five must have a parent or guardian present.
Our daughter LOVES the kids’ room, and we LOVE the staff. They have begun to recognize her and us, and are on a first name basis without even trying!!
There was not an “outing” to the kids’ room that did not produce some form of art carefully crafted by our daughter. Day two ended with a GREAT dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage House – a German Biergarten, complete with an Oompa Band.
Schmidt’s is known for its Bahama Mama sausage, as well as its buffet (all you can eat sausage, knockwurst, bratwurst, meatloaf, red cabbage, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut). It has wonderful two items on its dessert menu – homemade GIANT cream puffs and homemade cream pies. After dinner, there was of course more Battletech Pods, just as soon as we all “got into uniform”, as you can see by our daughter’s “evening wear”.
Friday, is the day we’ve all been waiting for, Guest of Honor day! But first, we must armor up my husband so he can be the knight in shining armour to his princess, our daughter. And look, the escalator held up!!!
Our first stop was to say hi to Adrienne Wilkinson. Adrienne is best known for her role as Livia/Eve, the sometimes warrior, sometimes saint, daughter of Xena on the popular TV show “Xena: Warrior Princess”.
More recently Adrienne has been sought after for her voice over work, most recently as Maris Brood in the “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” video game, as well as a new character on season three of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Cartoon Network and in Venice The Series.
Adrienne is also well noted for her charity work, including an annual charity auction hosted by her website. Though truth be told, I would have to commend her patience with us; stopping by to say hi EVERYDAY – starting with Thursday night!
She is awesome! Took all the time in the world to have a conversation with those coming up for autographs and pictures, a really GREAT woman. Not to mention, she didn’t run when she saw us coming!!
Next up for us was Felicia Day. Totally awesome in her own right too, Felicia Day was very amiable to taking pictures and signing autographs too.
Felicia Day is an accomplished actress, writer and producer, known widely these days as a maven of web video and social media. Most recently she portrayed beloved character Doctor Holly Marten in the final season of Eureka. Her fans rejoiced when Holly was recently (virtually) saved from the evil Senator Wen (MingNa) and returned to her love Fargo (Neil Grayston).
Ms. Day is one of the very nicest people a person could ever meet!
Most recently, her production company, “Knights of Good”, which focuses on scripted content made for the web, has just announced the project of “Dragon Age: Redemption” with EA/Bioware.
And finally on the slate for us, last but certainly not least, was Wil Wheaton. Needing no introduction, Wil is most noted for his roles in “Stand By Me” and “Toy Soldiers”, as well as playing everyone’s favorite, Wesley Crusher, on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
Wil Wheaton has been featured on the long running Wizards of the Coast D&D podcast as the Eladrin Avenger “Aeofel”, and provides voices for numerous video games. Wil also appears with Felicia Day in her smash hit web series “The Guild”.
Now when it comes to art and sculpting, the Guest of Honor this year was Sandra L. Garrity. She is an internationally known award winning sculptor. Sandra has been a freelance artist for over 40 years now and in addition to her sculptures, she has created and sold numerous paintings and drawings.
Her works also appear in the form of murals, for interior design and Fortune 500 companies. Her history with the gaming industry dates back to 1989, when she began to create miniatures.
Sandra’s write up in the program says, “Although her sculpting schedule doesn’t allow time for gaming, Sandy thoroughly enjoys working in the gaming industry and meeting with the amazing people who paint and play with her figures.”
I will be the first to stand in line to attest to this, she is one of the sweetest people you will ever come across, very easy to strike up a conversation with, about ANYTHING! And I don’t doubt that at least half of the miniatures in my house come from her mind and hands.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Ed Beard, Jr. and his triumph of this year’s Origins.
This year he brought with him his air brushed Dragonlance Van. The paint job, appraised at $90,000, took 900 hours to complete. Think about that, 900 hours!! Some of us take 2 hours, or 30 hours, to complete a paint job on a miniature, 900 hours!!!
On this day, it was our turn to do the bidding of Darth Vader…he had bade us to wander The Great Hall, making certain that all was in order, get some Battletech Pod runs in – a form of “field simulation” so our skills would not get too rusty, and finally, to take a minute for ourselves, whereupon we could be found again at the “Paint ‘n’ Take” tables…after all, even Scout Troopers have hobbies…
What is left to share are a few more photos of the crowded Great Hall, a crowd at Catalyst Games!
Each showcasing their new baby, “Leviathan”, the crowed “Paint ‘n’ Take” tables (standing room only, notice people in line waiting for an open spot), and finally, a special shout out to a REALLY cool artist named Rik Deschain.
Rik is really fun, great personality, and it was awesome swarming him in the Battletech Pods, he really was a good sport about that – let’s hear it for “Cowardly Lion”!! We hope to see you again at next year’s Origins Game Fair!!!
This dinner was from the Thurman Café, a hole in the wall whose waiting room is actually larger than the seating area itself!!
Yet customers are willing to wait, sometimes up to three hours for a table!! Having learned our lesson, we placed our order for takeout, even then waiting for 40 minutes. This place boasts of its burgers ALL being three quarters of a pound AFTER cooking!! And they are delicious!!!
At 11pm, we all trudged back to hotel (to try) to get a good night’s sleep, as the next morning we were leaving for our respective residences.
Having been to GenCon and Origins, there is no compare when it comes to family atmosphere.
For us, we are fortunate to take one FAMILY vacation each year, and EACH year, we choose to go to Origins…as a family. Next year, our two little ones are planning to attend as well!
Thanks to Kenn for final audio, video/image staging, and many thanks to you for reading and for visiting WormholeRiders News Agency to read about our news coverage at the great Origins Game Fair 2012 event in Columbus Ohio!
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Love and regards,