Just over a week ago was the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. I went as an attendee with my daughter so I can give the perspective of not only a gamer but also a parent, and I can say that without a doubt that we both had fun. It is one of the largest tabletop conventions in the country and well worth your time to check out.
Origins fills the Greater Columbus Convention Center and is in the neighboring Hyatt hotel, accessible by a sky bridge. Other hotels are accessible by a sky bridge so it is entirely possible that the convention could expand into them if Origins continues to grow, which it did by over 1,000 people since last year. Despite its size, Major gaming companies like Wizards and Paizo do not have a booth here, meaning that companies like Goodman Games, Evil Hat and others can have sizable booths there. Naturally there are tons of board games, roleplaying games, and more that you can try out. My daughter and I demoed Dragonfire at the Catalyst Game Labs as well as the Big Trouble in Little China by Everything Epic. If you haven’t played them yet, give them a play.
The D&D, Pathfinder, and Shadowrun organized play area was in the adjoining Hyatt hotel, meaning you could go between each game quickly and try out all three games without any difficulty. Not only that a food court was the floor below so you could literally get there first thing in the morning before your first game and not leave the general vicinity until after your last game ends at 11 that that night. It really was a sweet setup. My daughter and I spent much of our time in the D&D Adventures League area and as you can see from the picture it had a very nice entrance sign as they always do. We got to play in a number of games and had quite a bit of fun. I won’t go into any detail of the games since I don’t want to spoil the adventures for anyone. The majority of the events I wanted to get us into quickly sold out during preregistration (more on that later) but I understand that people had a very good rate of getting in with general tickets, so I am guessing that Baldwin Games added more tables. Had I known that earlier in the convention, I would have tried to get my daughter and I into the games that we had wanted to play in. Oh well. Better luck next year.
Like I said I did not get my daughter and I into all the RPGs that we wanted to play in so I got us into a number of other games that I am glad we did try. First of all, we got to play in Fairytale Gloom by Atlas Games. If you like telling stories as much as I do, this game uses the familiar Grimm’s fairy tale characters and lets you have fun while making these characters’ lives miserable. It was great fun and took far less time than a role playing game session. From there, we took a nice breather and went to the paint and take area. As you can tell from the picture, I am not all that good at painting, but it was nice to just take a calm break right in the middle of the con to paint a mini. Both of these areas were in a hall adjacent to the dealer’s hall. It would definitely be worth it to spend a day in there, playing full games, instead of getting a quick demo in the dealer’s hall.
If you are more of the physical sort, True Dungeon has its own area as well. I played TD before with friends, but I didn’t do it this year since I was not sure if my daughter would enjoy it. So instead I took her to an escape room there. Ours was a fantasy-based room, decorated with armor, mead barrels and more. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to give anything away. If you prefer your True Dungeon experience to hit people with foam swords instead of sliding discs in a shuffle board-like fashion, there’s are those similar to TD there that do exactly that (my apologize for not remembering your organization’s name). Now that I know my daughter enjoyed it, I will have to have us try something more involved.
One additional point I want to mention, Origins was the same weekend as the Columbus Pride Parade. I and many other gamers there took time out of their gaming day to see the parade. I know because the parade went down the very street the convention was on and there were quite a few people sitting by windows or walking out the convention center’s front doors to see the parade. It was a beautiful parade, and I am proud of us gamers for showing our support.
So with all this great, is there any downsides to Origins. As I have commented about on the Dreamation and PAX Unplugged, my chief complaint revolves the preregistration system. As you might expect from any sizable convention, everyone that is has a ticket by the time you can preregister for games is waiting on their computers for the exact moment to beat everyone else. That kind of traffic requires quite a few servers to handle the load. The company that did it, Event Ready, did a better job than last year (where the system was down for days), but still it took hours to try to get into games you wanted, meaning that many people didn’t get into the games they wanted. That is the worst I can say about it. Origins has been run long enough that the kinks have largely been worked out. They know what they are doing. I applaud Event Ready for being better than last year, but progress can still be made on that front.
Origins is one of those larger conventions that is definitely worth going to. I got to game with people I gamed with last year, and it was great seeing familiar faces again. We didn’t encounter any problems with the convention itself and there were lots of games to enjoy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, this is definitely one to consider to start your summer off right.