Origins Game Fair is GAMA’s (The Game Manufacturers Association) premier event in its convention season, the crown jewel if you will, an opportunity for the fan, gamer, and nerd alike to geek out over past and proven favorites in the gaming world, and to try new and untested and up and coming games of all media and types!
Unlike GAMA’s Trade Show (held earlier this year in Las Vegas), an exhibition and networking event primarily held for retailers, manufacturers, and designers, Origins Game Fair is for the players!
For those who enjoy the games, the literature behind the games, the art work associated with all aspects of the vibrant and enjoyable gaming industry.
I cannot begin to explain our giddiness and glee at the prospect of having granted press passes this year, that in and of itself begins the escapades of this year.
Thank you VERY MUCH to GAMA to granting us our media credentials this year, it was an opportunity not taken lightly, and VERY much taken to heart, we at WormholeRiders News Agency greatly appreciate this chance to showcase Origins and all that it encompasses!
This year’s “Special Guest of Honor” titles go to Mr. Steve Jackson, (above left) of Steve Jackson Games; Mr. Kevin Sorbo, (pictured right) Hercules himself; and Mr. Ioan Gruffudd, (pictured left) also known as the gracious and remarkable Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four movie series franchise based on the famous Marvel Comics series of the same name!
Rounding out the “Guests of Honor” ticket are: Charles Urbach, a writer and artist with 20 years of work in design, publishing, and illustration; Patrick Rothfuss, Quill Award winning author of “The Name of the Wind”; Steve Kenson, a self-proclaimed “Professional Geek” that has designed the Mutants & Masterminds Superhero RPG a
With True20 Adventure Roleplaying rounding out the “ticket” Steven S. Long (pictured above left), having been involved in the gaming industry for over a dozen years, during which time he’s written, co-written, edited, or developed nearly 150 books.
Being credentialed this year gave us new perspective and prospects – from interview participation to thinking of all the goings on in a different light, not just as a participant but as a surveyor of happenings.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon (June 12, 2013), and after our hassle free check in at The Drury Inns & Suites ,whereupon we promptly made our reservations for next years Origins 2014 event!
We took a short pleasant walk to The Greater Columbus Convention Center where the weekend fun was to take place!
Our first order of business was to collect our Convention Badges for our children – again, making all that is old new, we brought ALL three this year!
Once our kids were legit, we went to procure our Press Passes from the show offices.
Upon entering the offices, we were warmly greeted by Ms. Erica Gifford, GAMA’s Media Liaison for Origins.
Having traded communications over the past few weeks with Ms. Gifford, I found it none too surprising at how much of a people person she is – a perfect fit for her position.
Instantly she knew who we were, gave us our passes and without delay explained to us the ins and outs and privileges of a press pass. THANK YOU!!
We had no sooner sat down outside the offices to collect and gather ourselves when we ran into our good friend, artist Rik DesChain. Rik had just arrived and was in the process of figuring out his next move too.
We chatted a bit, then he went his way and we went our way – DIRECTLY to the Battletech Pods; there were six again this year, delivered unto the convention by Virtual World, all the way from Michigan. It did not take long for us to lose our time and tokens to this crew, but it is something that we endeavor to do (way too willingly) every year.
This year, in addition to all of our kids joining us, we brought another (newly retired, lots of time on his hands) friend, with a history all his own steeped in Battletech lore as well.
As we finished whetting our appetites, we walked away while we still could, taking a break and went back to the hotel to grab a drink and let the kids better explore the room.
As we were about to head back out, we noticed a lot of fire and rescue equipment headed to the convention center.It turns out that there had been a fire.
Please read the following press release:
Columbus, OH (June 12, 2013) – At 4:20 this afternoon a small fire broke out in the basement of the convention center. In order to fight the fire, local departments shut down the electricity to the building. At that time, the Greater Columbus Convention Center ordered an evacuation of the building. During the evacuation, games were still going strong in both our LARP and RPG areas of the Hyatt. A big thank you to the Game Masters and Attendees for their cooperation. Many GMs have offered to run their events later in the evening.
7:30 PM this evening, we were able to restore power and operations at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. If any attendees have questions about their events, please stop by customer service in the concourse.
Let the games continue!”
Well, let me tell you that we were not going anywhere and by now we are all slightly famished, it was a long ride in the car, and after a couple of distracting hours in the pods and catching up with a few friends, we all asked ourselves, “what’s that noise?”
And the timing could not have been more perfect, the 5:30 pm “Kickback” was about to start back at the hotel, so we all hoofed back – all of a matter of a “few steps”, we’ve learned that location is everything over the years!
Having satisfied tummies, we went back over to the convention center, but not without stopping first to check in on Steve Jackson and his simultaneous “12 game playing” of his beloved and relaunched game “Ogre” (falling into the what’s old is new again category).
As we looked on, I could see the interest in the eyes of my kids grow – what game is this? His plan to gather the next generation’s interest in a best seller, to continue its legacy had worked! From the Ogre website itself:
“Ogre and its sequel, G.E.V., are tactical ground combat games set in the late 21st century. In 2085 A.D., armored warfare is faster and deadlier than ever. Hovercraft, tanks and infantry slug it out with tactical nukes.
But the most feared weapon of all needs no human guidance. It’s the giant cybernetic tank called the Ogre.
Ogre was Steve Jackson‘s first design. It was originally released in 1977, as the first MetagamingMicrogame. Since then, it has appeared in Pocket Box and “Deluxe” large-board editions, as well as a miniatures version and a computer game from Origin Systems (now long out of print).
A companion game, G.E.V., added more rules and more units; Ogre and G.E.V. are fully compatible. A “sequel” in a different scale is Battlesuit, in which each piece represents an individual infantryman in combat armor.
Once again the killing machines stalk the war-torn countryside as Paneuropean and Combine forces battle to the death. A new generation of gamers is learning what it means to face the Ogre . . .”
It was incredible to watch the man work the room, to play 12 games simultaneously!
From our little stop over watching Ogre, we sallied forth back to the Battletech Pods where this time even our tweebs got the opportunity to “push buttons”.
One mission with daddy and one asked, “what does this button do?” and subsequently started the shutdown sequence of the ‘Mech – she stayed with me as my copilot most of the forthcoming missions)!
Sadly, our day one pretty much ends here…tired folk all around. We found ourselves back at the Drury, tucked our kids in and then went next door to our friends’ room, whereupon Tom and Brian decided it was time for a little swordplay to wrap up the day.
Up bright, early, and well rested…well, okay, maybe only partly true…I’m not a morning person so there goes “bright”; it was close to 9 am by the time we got downstairs; and I am not quite the same when I’m not in my own bed…well, okay, allow me my delusion please!!
The kids “dined” on cereal, waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage while I generally opted for the biscuits and gravy – I’m on vacation, not exactly watching the waist at the moment.
Though I did convince myself that by having a banana and drinking orange juice was counterbalancing the effect of the rest of breakfast!
From breakfast it was a visit to the Kids Room for the first time this trip.
As a parent, let me share that the Kids Room is an absolute blessing, and the individuals that run it are a godsend!
As this is the fifth year that I have been attending, each and every year I become more and more impressed with the staff, not only do they remember the children year to year, but they REMEMBER the children!!
And it is not because of anything that the kids have done, it is because they are THAT good!!
So, for us to say that our kids were excited to go to the kids room would be an understatement!
And at the same time I would be diminishing the excitement of the staff in their pursuit to guess who would be coming back this year and to recognize them from last year.
As an added bonus for the staff, not only did we have the three kids this year, but more friends of ours joined us that Thursday afternoon, and before you knew it, we had a gaggle of FIVE kids at the kids room over the weekend!
Once successfully in the care of the kids room, we began our quest to see all in the Great (Exhibit) Hall.
As we entered, as is customary, we were met by the Catalyst Labs booth.
Last year’s big game for them was “Leviathan”, and it continued its successes this year, as well as ushering in an force expansion.
One of the big changes this year for Origins and the Great Hall, was to bring the “Artists Alley” INTO the exhibit hall.
Smart move! Bring the artists closer to the action, in a well-lit “room” versus the darker room that took forever to find. Prominently displayed across the end of each aisle, near the Paint and Take booth were happy and briskly busy artists.
Just before Origins, I had recently had the pleasure of trading tweets with an artist named Cynthia Kirk, and as we journeyed through the Great Hall, I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Kirk as well.
As our luck would have it, Ms. Kirk’s booth was only about three booths or so away from Rik’s (DesChain)!
An artist specializing in the Super Heroes, Ms. Kirk found herself in the right place at the right time – Origins Game Fair 2013!!
Right about this time, we missed our opportunity at the Paint and Take table – a feature we ALWAYS like to partake in, whereupon you are provided with one complimentary miniature and you can sit in their area and paint it up, hence “paint and take”.
We also inquired as to the “where and when” of the painting contest.
One brings their painted minis from home and enters them into the contest to be judged for prizes. “Paint and Take” is nothing but fun for all who partake in the event!
We would have to come back later in the day for the info we sought, as well as to enter our “pride and joys”.
As we meandered and wandered through the Great Hall and the convention center itself, there were many Game Fair “goers” partaking in the cosplay that often accompanies Origins and conventions of this manner.
This year, this day was picked by the kids as “Ninja Day”, and a big THANK YOU to those manning the Role Playing and Live Action Role Playing tables for playing along with our “NoSeeEm Ninjas”.
One minute you’re just casually carrying on a conversation, the next minute you’re surrounded by ninjas!
But what’s this, in the blink of an eye they’re gone?? Did we really see what we thought we saw??
The costuming this year was great, as you can see from the following photos. Origins also runs a blood drive each and every year as well, and 2013 was no exception; even the sign bearer got in on the Cosplay!!
In the game of nuts, you are a squirrel and you are trying to collect, steal, and protect your nuts and everyone else’s.
The game itself takes only minutes to play, but you find yourself wanting to play again and again – it is as fun as it is entertaining, and different each and every time you play it.
As we finish our dinner, we head back to the pods to get our nerd on again, and forever (well, at least as long as this day and the convention).
We were then met by another nice family attending the convention, the aforementioned with the two other children that comprised the gaggle of five including my own little Origin 2013 convention adventurers!
That makes at total of seven Battletech players, and four lap riders; man, the “pod people” loved us!!
It is all mutual, we love them and their pods!
As if you could not tell already, playing in/at the pods is a major chunk of our “Origins fun”! In my opinion, the convention would not be “Origins” without the Battle Pods!
Now, as is the case, children 10 and under are apt to get tired and cranky after 10 pm or so. Now it’s time for the adults. We all head back to our respective hotels, and tuck our children in for the night.
But wait, there’s more!! As the kids all go to bed, we make a pact to meet up in the bar of the Crown Plaza…a half hour or so later, there we are!
A great hang out session and a couple of drinks later, it’s our turn to hit the hay…catch you on the cool side of the pillow that is Friday morning…
It’s Friday!! Or in our book, “Fantasy Friday”! As we had be wont to do yesterday, we went downstairs for breakfast, and then back upstairs to get today’s costumes on. Unbeknownst to the kids, Uncle Brian had procured the COOLEST Disney Princess costumes for them.
And, UNBEKNOWNST to Tom, Uncle Brian and I “conspired to acquire” the Wicked Witch of the West costume from Disney’s latest, “Oz, The Great and Powerful”!
While Tom was getting himself ready in his costume of the day, I took the girls to Uncle Brian’s room to get dressed. They went gaga after seeing their new costumes, thank you Uncle Brian!!
What we did not know was that Tom was still in the room, we thought we gave him enough time…we did not.
He caught one sight of the costume, and then did a double take to make sure it was me – my normal modus operandi involves a mask or a helmet, something covering the face so as to “not be seen”.
I must say, that is now easily my favorite costume – probably because I was able to dress up without having to act out (if you catch my drift). So off to the convention hall we went, our gang of Disney Princesses, Disney Witch, Prince Charming, and Friar Brian.
Thank goodness, again, for the Kids Room, for as we entered the interview, our children were in the Kids Room, playing and enjoying themselves, and that gave us peace of mind for the next half hour 45 minutes of our day, that we could focus solely on this interview.
Mr. Gruffudd is just that, fantastic. A perfect gentleman, very well spoken and a great interviewee, very comfortable fielding questions, putting this nervous interviewer at ease almost immediately.
In a separate article, I will be posting more on this interview, as well as the interview itself. But before moving on, let me just say that due to a scheduling mix up, WormholeRiders was lucky enough to have an exclusive interview with Mr. Gruffudd.
Now going on dinner time, but a little early for the “Kickback” at the Drury, not to worry, tonight is the night for our customary “Thurman Café” dinner.
Through trial and error, we have learned that the best way to enjoy this dinner, without going to the restaurant itself at 9 am to have a burger just so that you can get seating, is to order take out and bring it back to the convention center.
This serves two purposes – we get to eat a tremendous meal, and everyone around us starts to search for the place in the respective food courts for who is serving what we have.
Famous for its appearance on “Man vs. Food” and its “Thurmanator” – starting with the bottom bun and working your way up: bottom bun, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, 12 ounce burger, bacon, cheddar, followed by ANOTHER 12 ounce burger, sautéed mushrooms & onions, ham, mozzarella & American cheese followed FINALLY by the top bun, AND served with fries – we LOVE their food!!!
It’s all real! You want chicken wings – you get a chicken’s wing!! You want onion rings, them things are fresh!!!! We did NOT order the “Thurmanator”, we left that for the experts. Instead we opted for their more “personal” 3/4lb burger – we have no choice that is the size of all other burgers (unless otherwise noted).
We of course have yet to learn our lesson when it comes to ordering an appetizer though, still ordered them AND the burger and could not finish either! As is customary, we took a couple of hours to eat and digest, right across from the Battletech pods of course.
And when we could all move again, at least in turn to get to the pods, we cycled in and out for the next couple of hours to close out Friday.
“Up and at ‘em” for our self-proclaimed “Sci-Fi Saturday”!! Breakfast downstairs, and then back up to get our costumes on.
This year, with the addition of two more kids (in the past it has only been our eldest attending), we have two more costumes to join us.
For our Sci-Fi Saturday we customarily choose Star Wars – Tom and I are Scout Troopers, and our eldest has “evolved” from Yoda, to Jedi in training, to Princess Leia.
With our two little ones joining the fray this year, it seemed only natural to have them join us as Jawas, glowing eyes and all. Uncle Brian also “enlisted” for Sci-Fi Saturday as he donned his Sith Lord costume, complete with light sabre.
No sooner had we entered the convention center proper than the photos opportunities began. It is kind of fun actually, I get the anonymity that I like, but at the same time someone’s center of attention.
I find myself smiling in my helmet, then chuckling as I realize what just happened that no one could possibly see me with my Storm trooper helmet on!
I gleefully giggled each time this happened and happily told people I was smiling inside the costume!
Many could tell as everyone at Origins has a great time at the event!
Visiting friends and checking further into booths that we glanced at on the previous days but wanted to go back to.
As we proceeded to arrive in the famed “Library” section of the Origins “Great Hall” (the area that housed all of the special author guests), it suddenly occurred to Tom and I that we had mentioned to Mr. Gruffudd that we would be the costumed as Star Wars Imperial Scout Troopers today.
Now we were on a mission – to seek out and share our glee with Mr. Fantastic himself!
To our delight, the day’s signing session had been moved into the Great Hall, and was located pretty close to the “Library”.
To say that we photo-bombed his session would probably be right, but I think we kind of INVADED his space.
He was great, and appreciative, AND surprised when we took the helmets off. Mr. Gruffudd was a good sport, let us in behind his table, so that, as he put it, HE could get a photo with US, saying that it was a must and that his daughter would really like that photo!
As we finished our trek through the Great Hall, we thought that we starting to have a nervous tic or felt like we were suffering withdrawal!
Turns out, we hadn’t visited the Battletech pods yet today (seeing a pattern developing here?)…so, off to the pods we went!
There was no snafu in the timing of Mr. Sorbo’s interview, so rather than an exclusive, we had the opportunity to partake in an impromptu panel interview of sorts.
Like Mr. Gruffudd, Mr. Sorbo is a warm and gentle soul, a very grounded, and salt of the earth gentleman.
We ran the gamut with questions and topics, and we will be posting that article and interview shortly as well – stay tuned!
Now, believe it or not, it is getting to be dinner time already! We gathered the kids, and made our way to our other favorite “Man vs. Food” featured restaurant in Columbus, “Schmidt’s Sausage Haus”!
We had nearly an hour wait, for a table for EIGHT, but we got in, and we were seated with in aroma and sight radius of the grand buffet. Eating here now three years straight, and so long as we are able to attend Origins, there is no end in sight for our taste buds and our desire for AWESOME and authentic German food!!
From the buffet, we had our choices of the Bahama Mama (regular or spicy), bratwurst, knockwursts, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, red cabbage, just about every variety of German food that one desires and can dream of. And believe it or not, most of us actually had room for dessert too!
Having the reins removed, our eldest decided that she was going to order a chocolate cream puff; not normally a problem, but when the cream puff itself is the size of one of her sisters’ heads, let’s just say that she shared the wealth!
As we finished dinner and made our way back to the convention center, our friend, a brave brave soul, asked if our girls could stay with her and her boys back at their room for a cookie and milk party while the rest of us spent the next few hours in the pods.
Jumping on that offer, we got our girls (the little ones) changed into their PJs, walked them across to the street to The Crown Plaza, and then didn’t look back for a couple of hours. As a last hurrah, we played six more missions this evening – a light tonnage Mech FFA, a medium tonnage Mech FFA, a heavy tonnage Mech FFA, an assault tonnage Mech FFA, and a couple of random FFAs (so random, it was left to the guys running the pods to make all the decisions, we had no input in these two).
Oh, round about midnight or half past the hour, we checked in on the girls and went to collect them. Now being 5 years old, one would figure that full days would lead to tire and spent children – NOT SO!! As the door to the hotel room was opened, we were attacked by four raging kids with foam swords and pillows!!!!! Aaaaaarrrrghhhhhh!!!!!
Alas, we have come to the end…our final “Quickstart” breakfast courtesy of the Drury for this trip. I could swear the kids dragged out their breakfast because they (too) didn’t want to go back upstairs and have to pack up…our kids after all still had one final week of school waiting for them when they got home (I had work waiting for me, I sure as heck wanted to draw out my vacation as looooong as I could!).
Once the suitcases and the truck were packed, we trudged over to the Great Hall to take one final stroll to see if there was anything we missed and to collect our painting contest entered miniatures. We had pretty much just entered the hall when we were greeted with, “you better have a bag with you when you come for your miniatures!” Such a cryptic statement makes one want to run to the back of the hall to see what he meant!
What he meant was, we had won (quite) a few categories and prizes. Our eldest’s entry won Third Place in the youth category; Tom’s entry won First Place in the “Large” category; and my entry won First Place in the “Diorama” category and Second Place OVERALL!!
Painting miniatures is one of the great family hobbies that all five of us partake in – on any given rainy weekend day you can find our kitchen table completely covered in trays, paints, brushes, and miniatures; we certainly didn’t need any encouragement to paint more, but hey, we’ll take it!!
As this year’s Origins Game Fair comes to a close, there was much revelry and gameplay, cosplay and just plain play. As the Origins homepage reflects, this year was quite the success, building on years past with increasing numbers.
As the final stats were tallied, this year’s attendance numbers were , 11, 573 combined totals – both badges and day passes together. Though a mere 241 increase over last year, the measure that I find interesting and TRULY encouraging in the vitality and presence of Origins is how the numbers added up this year versus last year when looking at badges and day passes.
This year’s badges totaled 9183 versus last year’s 6865, while this year’s day passes totaled 2390 versus last year’s 4457…to me that signals that attendees wanted more, wanted the WHOLE weekend as opposed to just a day here and there – this year’s numbers, in contrast, were in line with 2009’s total delineation. Attendees this year were committed to Origins, as the convention itself was genuinely committed to its fans and its supporters.
In closing, thank you very much, kudos to GAMA and to Origins Game Fair 2013, we appreciated the opportunities that our Press Pass bestowed us, we realize and understand the gravity that comes with the credentials that hung around our necks this year. Thanks again, and we cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next year!!
Thanks to Kenn for the final audio, video-embedding, and image staging, and many thanks to you for reading and for visiting Convention Corners at WormholeRiders News Agency!