We are all gamers. Whether you are waiting in anticipation for Overwatch or play Fish with your 5-year old, you are a gamer. So it is no wonder that the Gaming area of a convention draws in scores of fans every year.
Many conventions offer a gaming area that gives a fan to chance to try a variety of different games, whether you test your skills in a card or board game tournament, or try out the latest games for the PS4. This industry is so huge that conventions dedicated to just gaming can be found worldwide. One site that I found, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/ (an online board gaming site and community), posts a list of various gaming conventions, many that promote not just board games, but also video, miniatures, role-playing (or RPGs) and card games (its list contains quite of few for Ontario, with over half a dozen conventions taking place between now and November).
A convention gives companies and independent gaming creators a great way to showcase their products as well. For the independent and smaller companies it’s a way to network and get noticed. For larger companies, like video game giants PlayStation and Ubisoft, offering to sponsor a convention is a way to have the public play test their games and get feedback. Even companies like EB Games get in on the action,promoting various products and offering convention specials and giveaways.
The gaming community is huge, with many having their own websites and Facebook pages, and convention gaming tournaments are incredibly popular. You can spend your entire convention time outwitting your opponents with games such as Settlers of Catan, Magic: The Gathering, Call of Duty, League of Legends, Warhammer, Battletech, Dungeons & Dragons (D & D) or Call of Cthulhu. Tournaments as a whole are typically played at a local level (at their own event, or as part of a convention), with semi-finals and finals being held nationally or at an international event. There is also a wide variety of games. You have video games, card, board, role-playing and miniatures.
Video game tournaments are known as esports. In case you are wondering how serious this industry can get, take a quick look online and you will see that tournament championships for games such as Call of Duty can earn the winner a prize pack worth thousands of dollars. Once seen as the life of a underachiever who lives in his parents’ basement, an esports player can now make a career out of attending various tournaments and conventions.
Games of the non-electronic variety, meaning board, card, role-playing (RPG) and miniatures games have changed how they are viewed in the mainstream as well. Websites can be found listing upcoming tournaments and while the champions may not take home prizes as large as their esports peers, I wouldn’t downplay their popularity or respect worldwide. Games such as Settlers of Catan and Warhammer 40,000 have international tournaments, with prizes ranging from game prize packs to expenses and travel paid to the international finals.
Tournaments aside, there is also two other areas of gaming that have appeared at various conventions, for those of us who are a little less competitive. The board game library is just as it’s name states, it’s a library…of board games….how awesome is that!! It’s a place where you can take a break from the madness of a the convention floor and indulge in the madness of Monopoly for a few hours. There has also been the appearance (or for those of us who are a little older, the reappearance) of arcade games. I don’t mean the arcade-style ones for your PS3, I mean the good, old-fashioned, finger-numbing, wrist-wrenching ones that I grew up with. You want a chance to win a video game over your 12-year-old? Try challenging him to a game of Asteroids and see how long his hands last.
Whether you are into Call of Duty or Ticket to Ride, D & D or Star Wars X-Wing, conventions offer a great opportunity to sit down, grab a controller or dice, and test your skills. It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned player, or like me, a video game amateur with the shortest life span in my household. The Gaming area gives everyone, at any age, the chance to mingle, learn and have fun. It’s an area that you can try out with your family or a group of friends.
If you haven’t done so before, try out any part of the gaming area the next time that you go to a con. Have fun and learn something new. Challenge yourself or just act like a kid (it’s a convention, you can get away with that here). You may discover games that you never knew about, or pick up ones that you played as a kid. When it comes down to it, just enjoy yourself!
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