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Category Archives: Conventions

WashingCon – the District’s Best Board Game Convention

WashingCOn2WashingCon marked its 3rd anniversary as DC’s premiere board game convention with over a thousand gamers attending to play games, check out panels, inspect new releases from a few game studios, and participate in tournaments.

The organization of this event was on point – check in was a breeze, staff were easy to identify in their hot pink shirts (and plentiful throughout the rooms), and even the free game table, while understandably slow, was well managed. Anyone I approached for info was either quick to answer or to help us find who could answer (at one point I was led on a spirited chase across and around the hall to track down the RPG organizer – great pre-gaming workout!) There were notably MANY women volunteers – no real surprise with Labyrinth Games store owner Kathleen Donahue as  WashingCon co-sponsor but certainly awesome to see.

The borrowing library was well stocked with new games as well as classics. Check in/out was a little fiddly but it didn’t take us long to get out into the play space, which was abundant. Ample space between tables also meant there were no ‘dead zones’ (inaccessible spots that just become wasted space) at the center of rows and no one felt trapped once the hall began to fill up. Play was lively, but the volume was tolerable.

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Events were a mix of panels, tournaments, meet and greets, and demos. There were a couple to choose from in each time slot, which gave enough variety to fill up a day but not so much that we felt like you’d be missing tons of things by picking a few to attend. Of particular note was the focus on education through gaming – panels like Pokemon for Parents and Teachers and a special area for educators to check out STEM and language games echoed Labyrinth’s commitment to education and the community. Additionally, events for both new players and new designers created a welcoming environment. My personal favorite was the Women in Games panel featuring retails, designers, and con-runners in a lively discussion about the past and future of women in the gaming community, and creating more inclusive spaces.

(Speaking of inclusive spaces, WashingCon’s Zero-Tolerance policy for harassment is clear, being posted near check in, included in the program, and printed on the back of every badge. There is no wiggle room here, and the organizers are absolute in their desire for every attendee to be comfortable and ‘Play Nicely’.)

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A little room on the east side hosted RPGs. Spaces for games where reserved online, a great decision which entirely negated the long hopeful line we’ve seen at places like PAXU. Games were interesting and well moderated and a good eye was kept out for time. My only issue was volume  – this area was packed full of enthusiastic role players so it was easy for the din to rise enough that you had to strain to hear someone across the table.

Several designers were demo-ing games as well. I was particularly taken with Catlilli Game’s STEM based offerings (enough that I interviewed designer Catherine Swanwick  about women in games and game development not too long ago.) I also tried Twistocity, an hysterical tongue twister game that wound up becoming a must-buy for a friend. I attempted to resist the siren call of game buying but still wound up bringing home Herbaceous and our first Unlock.

WashingCon 2018 is one of my most eagerly anticipated cons this year (out of the twelve to fifteen I’ll be visiting.) It’ll be held at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center September 8-9. Tickets go on sale March 1st. If you’re planning on going send me a note via Girls play Games – lets play something together!

10 Things That Happened at Too Many Games 2017

Vanri and Crymson went to TooManyGames 2017! Here are some of what they experienced:

10) Vanri went to her first convention! She loved it, we got her a shirt.

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9) So many amazing cosplays!

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8) After forever, we finally ACTUALLY interviewed +2 Comedy… those nerds!

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7) ALL THE GAMES! So many amazing indie games to see and love.

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6) I played a game I’ve been waiting a year to play and didn’t suck.

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5) Got my hands on a board game I’ve been waiting a year for! For FREE!

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4) Cosplay Pro Wrestling!

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3) The most amazing Pyramid Head Cosplay, I’ve ever seen.

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2) Keith Apicary made me nearly pee myself.

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1) MrCreepyPasta was amazing to interview and we want to talk to him for hours.

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Can Beleaguered Wizard World Continue into 2018?

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Financial woes have plagued pop culture convention host company Wizard World for the last few years and 2017 is no exception. Wizard World’s quarterly report (released 11/14/17) shows that the comic convention runner is still in financial trouble, down about $1 million for the same quarter last year and almost $4.5 million for the year. In response the company stated “We have evaluated the significance of these conditions in relation to our ability to meet our obligations and have concluded that, due to these conditions, there is substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern through November 2018.” A 2.5 million dollar investment by Wizard World chairman Paul Kessler (through his financial firm, Bristol) was used up in the first three quarters of this year and they reported a loss of 1.5 million for the first quarter of 2017. Overall first quarter 2017 revenue was $74,199 compared to $348,182 in the first quarter of 2016.

In addition to financial losses, the number of Wizard World conventions dropped from twenty six in 2016 to sixteen in 2017. While rumors originally circulated that they would have as many as 40 in 2018, their late September announcement shows only seventeen. Of those, five are shows that had originally been scheduled for this fall but were postponed. The official statement indicated that these changes came about so that they would have more time to plan those shows. “In moving five of our more recently announced shows to 2018, we are better equipped to put on the kind of successful pop culture celebration that our fans have come to expect.” That being said, none of the rescheduled shows actually has calendar date.

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Wizard World’s efforts to relaunch Wizard magazine digitally this year tanked as well. After much fanfare in July regarding its new format, Wizard Digital has disappeared from the WW website and former Associate Editor Luke Y. Thompson posted to twitter “Okay, followers. Seems I’m looking for work again. I’d love any pointers. Thanks.”

Additionally the accompanying Facebook daily video series Wizpop has only managed to pick up 1.2K followers in the last 6 months. Wizard had a circulation of over 100,000 at its height in 90s.

And the company has been suffering through legal woes this year as well. Former COO Randall Malinoff left the company in July and is now “engaged in a dispute” with Wizard World over his departure. Wizard World told investors that they were “ in communication with a representative of Mr. Malinoff, which communications may, or may not, result in a conclusion of this matter.” A contract dispute was filed in the Los Angeles court system on 9/1/17. This comes seven months after Wizard World sued their former Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus (brother of company founder Gareb Shamus) for allegedly using his position to obtain more than $1 million dollars worth of signed memorabilia and collectibles which he then sold for his own profit. Stephen Shamus counter-claimed that Wizard World manufactured the claim  and owed him over a million dollars. That matter has since been settled but not before some pretty outrageous stories emerged alleging Wizard executives were trying to loot the company.

How much longer can Wizard World carry on despite these legal, financial, and administration troubles? Well, I wouldn’t mark any of their dates in sharpie on your 2018 calendar.

Top 10 Things that happened to me at Zenkaikon 2017

Crymson went to Zenkaikon 2017! Here are some of the things she experienced:

 

 

10) Some utterly amazing cosplays where everywhere!

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9) I was sandwiched between two doctors in my T.A.R.D.I.S dress

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I found Wednesday Adams

8) So many people told me they love my hair!

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Waiting for Cosplay Masquerade

7) I made new friends!

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Our friends at CommonGeek.tv

7) I want hours to talk to Keith DeCandido

5) The Slants concert was AMAZING

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The Slants

4) I got a ‘NOTICE ME SENPAI!’ from a stranger

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Senpai Loves You

3) MY FIRST BURLESQUE SHOW! Not only did I see my first show

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Pre Show (Photography was not allowed)

2) I got to spend some time with Uncle Yo! Much more than an interview, I was able to see him several times, chat with him and give him a few hugs. He made me laugh, he made me cry.

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Crazy Uncle Yo

1) Ellen McClain and John Patrick Lowery Believe in me! Meeting them was definitely the highlight of the convention for me. They are two incredible people that I’d love to sit with for hours and listen to their stories. I cannot say enough positive things and hope to speak with them again.

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McClain are too precious for this world

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Noodle King

 

 

 

(Honorable Mention: ALL THE FOOD!)
If you live in the Lancaster Area, please eat at The Rabbit and The Dragonfly & Noodle King

Ellen McLain & John Patrick Lowery (Zenkaikon 2017)

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McLain

Ellen (GLaDOS, Portal Series) and John (Sniper, Team Fortress Series) were my very first interview at Zenkaikon 2017. It was my absolute pleasure to be a bumbling nervous fan before them. They strolled in from the elevator and after a moment of asking where they should sit, I smiled and told them how nervous I was to be meeting them.

They both delighted in this fact. John said, ‘Well, let’s make it worse!’ and immediately shook my hand & gave me hugs. John took my hand and looked me in the eye and told me that this was a pivotal moment in my future and began making jokes as if he’d known me for ages.

I had read so many interviews with them that I had nothing to ask! Well, I had a few things. I knew how they met already, how they helped shape video game voice acting as we know it, and that they have also been pushing for video games to be recognized as the art form they truly are. Those were just reiterations of what I already knew about them but they were items that I felt so important that I wanted to hear them out loud and keep that flow of information.

I feel that they are both pivotal to video games as we know it. I loved hearing about the growing understanding and relationship between voice actor and engineer. When we still had a lot of instructional computer programs out there, where you could just spout out lines on paper in pops Voice Acting! and it’s no longer reading lines off a page. You need to understand what the motivation is, what’s happening in the scene, what will be the characters next step, what is their thinking. You need to convey so much to the player. Flat voice acting (I.E. Peter Dinklage in Destiny.. personally I disagree but that isn’t the point) is detrimental to the experience. So many people complained about Destiny that they had the entire script redone with another voice actor. Because it wasn’t contributing to their experience.

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During Interview

To that point, John Patrick Lowery has been a part of my life, my story, for a very long time. Let me explain. John voice acted in a little known game called Betrayal at Krondor. It was in the era of adventure games and the original Kings Quest. My father bought the game for us to play; we loved adventure games and RPGs and the like. Now this was in 1997; I was 16 and loved video games.

Voice acting was not typical in games then. These games made such an impact on me that I started writing my own stories, even to the point where I used Krondor as the last name of one of my many fantasy characters. These were also very special moments that I spent with my father, we both loved video games and the stories they told. I often wonder at how he would react to the changes that have been made in the 15 years he’s been gone. So for a small thing that John did 20 years ago it had a positive influence on me, on my life, and on my relationship with my father. Maybe after I read one of John’s wonderful books, he will read one of my mediocre short stories.

With all that being said, Ellen and John are too precious for this world. I wanted to pick them up and put them in my pocket, however impossible that is. I wanted to listen to every story they had to tell me and I am sure there are so many. I wish I could even convey to you the feeling of sitting there listening them. It was one of the only times I wanted to talk as little as possible and just be present.

They were incredible. I adored them and I pray this isn’t the only time I get the pleasure of speaking with them. The highlight of my convention!

Cosplayers injured in DragonCon Incident

 

DragonCon 2017 attracted more than 80,000 fans to the pop culture-sci-fi convention in downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately for a couple con-goers it wasn’t all parties and costumes.

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Two women are recovering from head injuries after they were hit by chairs thrown from a tenth floor Marriott hotel balcony Sunday Sept. 3rd around 1:40. The Atlanta police department is investigating, but suspects have not been located. Congoers Kelly McDaniel and Jamie Temple-Thompson Amador both wound up in the hospital after being struck with the falling chairs. McDaniel credits her Loki headdress with saving her from further injury – she was struck in the head and wound up with staples.

Director of Media Relations for DragonCon sent Channel 2 the following statement:

“Two women at Dragon Con were injured at the convention early Sunday morning when two chairs were dropped from an outside balcony on the 10th floor in the Marriott to a landing below. The women were treated and released at separate hospitals.We are grateful that the injuries were not more severe.  And we are proud of the Dragon Con attendees who stepped up quickly, realized the severity of the situation and provided immediate assistance.”

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Kelly McDaniel and Jamie Temple-Thompson Amador

Reaction from the DragonCon community has been supportive of the two cosplayers as well as the convention. Jennifer M., who drove from LA with Amador told AJC.com, “The love and support from the Dragon Con family is heart warming to say the least. We can’t wait to return for an even better experience, and reconnect with our new Atlanta family!” Atlanta resident Tim M. shared with RWOG, “The security and crowd control were on point: authoritative but polite and professional… I was consistently impressed with the way they and the various hotels’ security as well as Dragon Con’s own volunteers remained visible and engaged, but let people have their fun.” Long-time Dragoncon attendee Jessica H. added “I’m actually surprised they’re not even more incidents given the number of people in the way hotel room are configured. All in all, I bet incident rates of this type are extremely low.” “DragonCon security operations do a lot of hard work to keep stuff like this from happening… But every year there is something. I honestly don’t think that this is going to slow down the con. Sh*t happens, people do their best to prevent it, and at the end of the day it’s up to people to self police themselves and their friends.” came from regular Con volunteer Shayna A. And yet another con attendee (who preferred not to be named) mentioned there were incidents regarding “throwing bottles and beer cans off balconies every year but for that many people they do a great job of keeping the crowd safe.”

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Ultimately we’ll be waiting to see what both the Marriott and DragonCon do to increase security for DragonCon 2018 in regards to this occurrence. RWOG is glad to hear both cosplayers are on the mend and we encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the APD at 404-577-8477.

 

Too Many Games 2017

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I sit here relaxing in my house at the end of day three of Too Many Games. My throat is recovering, my feet are aching, and I’m so tired I can barely string coherent thoughts together. However, I want to write about this amazingly wild ride while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Firstly, thank you kindly to Too Many Games for having us back this year. RWOG upped our equipment and our game for this event. We had the amazing pleasure to chat with The Gaming Historian, Mr Creepy Pasta, Keith Apicary, Plus 2 Comedy and more. Fans, friends, developers… I never thought I’d talk this much. Me. ME! I TALKED TOO MUCH! SO MUCH MY VOICE TRIED TO LEAVE ME!

Too Many Games was our first press opportunity last year and I LOVED IT! This year didn’t disappoint. Incredible music all weekend made the perfect soundtrack to an incredible time. Yelling, screaming, clothes thrown (tastefully), epic cosplays, THE BEST PANEL WE’VE EVER BEEN TO, comedy – I nearly peed myself post interview. Every convention I go to, I’m convinced that it can’t be as much as the last and it’s always better.

Additionally, thank you to the AMAZING volunteers. We met some great people who were still smiling come Sunday! Vanri kept pumping so much coffee into me that at one point she was worried she’d have to carry me to the car. I was exhausted! I don’t know how you volunteers kept the energy up but you were inspiring!

Cosplay Pro Wrestling happened in front of our faces! As a once hard core ECW Fan I had a FIT because Deadpool came out as Sandman! He had the ‘CP F’N W’ shirt, the Singapore cane and cracked a soda open with a fan. It was AMAZING and I was LOSING MY MIND. I grabbed Vanri and shook her, trying and convey the importance of what was happening before her eyes. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” It was a moment that threw me into nostalgia and I loved every second of it.

I cannot wait to tell you about all the amazing games we encountered. Board games, video games, mobile games… there were almost… Too Many Games. Don’t you boo me.

Stay turned for more amazing content and I will see you next time! Kthxbye!