Friday, June 21, 2013

Origins Game Fair 2013

I spent a week enjoying Big Mike's sterling hospitality in the company of my brother California Dave, and all three of us attended the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.  Keep reading for an informative diatribe about the convention, including a few tips on the best way to navigate convention bureaucracy.

California Dave and I arrived at Big Mike's house on Wednesday, just in time for the happy hour.  There is nothing better than a perfect manhattan served straight up and ice cold, along with a few hors d'oeuvres.  An hour later we were feeling refreshed and on our merry way to the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC).

Here's a brand new thought proving fact for the Origins management, Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).  People hate standing in line.  Unless you're one of the unfortunate multitude who somewhat childishly believed that GAMA would have solved their lengthy, obstructive registration process by this time, you registered online.  Otherwise you ended up joining the multitude of like-minded others in the dreaded registration line where you would spend an hour or more waiting to talk to someone at the bottom of the bureaucratic food chain about permission to spend your money at Origins.  Nice, huh?

The three of us completed our preregistration online weeks ago, meaning that GAMA already has our money.  Now we only had to wait a relatively short time in the preregistration line to pick up our badges, event tickets and freebies from the terminally confused staff on the bad side of the counter.

The entire process was ridiculous.  At every other convention I've ever attended or crashed, the check-in process consists of handing your credit card and a photo ID to the attractive, helpful and completely soulless female automaton on the bad side of the counter, who then smiles at you, verifies your information and hands you a packet that consists of your convention ID badge, any entry tickets you've paid for and a stack of freebies.  She then wishes you a nice day and you are dismissed.  This isn't what happens at Origins.

In my case I drew a brain damaged guttersnipe volunteer clerical worker who frantically scrambled around trying to find my badge, entry pass to the Board Room and show schedule.  After a few minutes he managed to get everything together in a disorganized stack and shoved it at me, then stood there smiling glassily.  Not at me, mind you, but at something just over my left shoulder that only he could see.  California Dave had to remind his registration worker that he was supposed to surrender a copy of the scheduled convention activities, which the man finally did after consulting with a supervisor.  No, I'm not kidding you, and I'm not exaggerating.  The entire process took ten to fifteen minutes, and should have been completed in one to two minutes.  Multiply that times several thousand people, and you'll see why it matters.

Having checked in we took a stroll around the grounds to see what was up.  Not much, as it turned out, but we did talk to a few game masters who were setting up for tomorrow.  I got a few pictures of our invasion of Syria.

Invasion of Syria
Big Mike is a solid military strategist and a somewhat better tactician, and enjoyed a military discussion with the game master concerning success and the cost thereof.  I idly wondered about the political correctness of the proposed scenario, but kept my own council.

The set up shown here is about half complete.  I gathered that the entire game will take over four hours to play.

A Desert Scenario
These are only two of the many complex layouts that I saw at Origins.  It isn't uncommon to see a player arrive with several cases of hand painted miniatures and put several hundred of them in battle.  I'm more interested in playing board games or table top games; the amount of work that goes into creating an army of miniatures is staggering.

There's a lot more, but it's going to wait until later.  Subsequent posts will include a game review, several events that we participated in and seminars on writing by various authors.

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