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Vanri’s First Convention: TooManyGames

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I know what you’re thinking.

Vanri, how is it you’ve never been to a con before?!

Well, the answer is pretty simple: Money.

As an introvert with anxiety, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to handle a convention. I was assured by Crymson that TooManyGames was a great con to start, as it was big, but not the biggest in the area. When we got our press passes, I was both excited and anxious, understandably.

We arrived at the Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, and it was scorching hot in the venue. There were hundreds of bodies and a strong smell of B.O. We started to walk around to scope the place out. I was getting my bearings.

We found the VIP booths, the vendor booths and the Indie Game Showcase area.

Almost immediately, we heard loud banging coming from the back of the venue. We were informed it was Cosplay Pro Wrestling, so we rushed over. Crymson quickly let me know that our friends over at +2 Comedy helped to organize it and often participate.

We stayed for a couple of rounds before we got too hot and decided to leave, but not before Giovanni and Team Rocket interfered with a match and finally got their Pikachu. After a Sandman Deadpool took on two goons from Team Rocket, Crymson decided to show me the game room.

The game room was separated from the main floor. It was very dark with flashing rave lights. Separated into two parts, the game room was half arcade, half tournaments. It was spectacular.

Over the next three days, we conducted interviews, took literally hundreds of pictures and sat in on some of the best panels I could have asked for at my first con. I met such VIPs as MrCreepyPasta, Keith Apicary and The Gaming Historian. We also sat down with +2 Comedy, SuperBestFriends and one of the organizers of TooManyGames itself.

I was able to preview some awesome indie games, such as Frightshow Fighter and Sombrero: Spaghetti Western Mayhem.

We walked thousands upon thousands of steps, suffered boob sweat and had some technical difficulties. By day three, our feet hurt, we were grumpy and we wanted nothing more than to go home and go to bed.

At the end of it all, though, I have only one thing to say about my first con: it was worth it.

Convention Impressions: Too Many Games 2016

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Date: June 24 – 26, 2016
Venue: Oaks Convention Center in Oaks, PA

Real Women of Gaming is getting on the convention beat! Our first Press Pass came from Too Many Games and it was a great convention for us to get our feet wet with.

What Kind of Convention is it?
As the name suggests, Too Many Games is a gaming convention. The Convention had 3 panel tracks and an event stage, but the majority of the space was given over to a large gaming room and an even larger marketplace. The arcade/gaming room had arcade machines and consoles running fighting games, racing games, and rhythm games for anyone to test their skills against their fellow con goers. There were also at least 30 machines running various versions of Nintendo’s beloved Super Smash Brothers for both free and tournament play. Rounding things out were a tabletop gaming area and a indie game showcase.

Too Many Games is definitely a small convention. The focus is on the games room and the marketplace. The convention did manage a respectable lineup of guests from the gaming youtube and podcast ‘verse including The Completionist and the Angry Video Game Rolfe, but don’t expect representation from major studios or established indie studios. Sorry, no autographs from Ken Levine or surprise game announcements from Double Fine.

The panel tracks covered a decent range of topics but didn’t offer anything you wouldn’t typically find at a small enthusiast convention. There were Guest FAQs, retrospectives, music and animation appreciation panels, and discussions about current topics. It was a full schedule but I’m guessing that the fairly sparsely attended panels were not the draw for most people at the con.

What was cool?
By far my favorite part was the Indie Games showcase. I got to spend time with at least twenty developers of both video and tabletop games, trying their games and talking to them about their projects. The items on offer ranged from rough prototypes to extremely polished and professional demos. Everyone I met was eager to show off their work and talk about what they wanted to accomplish, what their influences were, and what got them into game design in the first place. There were definitely a few creators there whose projects I will be following closely from now on and some of them may even be featured in future posts on this blog.

The marketplace had a heavy focus on retro video games and I saw a few rare finds on offer. If you’re a collector then you already know that events like these can be a goldmine or a bust depending on what the vendors have on offer. Board games also had decent representation and I was pleased to see a few items that I had been keeping an eye out for. There were also a few booths selling figures and other collectables and, of course, enough funny t-shirts to clothe an army.

I also liked the arcade more than I thought I would. I’ve never been a big fighting game fan, but there was enough variety that I could find plenty to keep me occupied. There were also a few Japanese rhythm game cabinets which were in high demand. Fortunately, I never had to wait too long for a turn at a cabinet and there was always someone ready to jump in and play a round with me. (I lost, a lot).

What was lame?
The venue itself is nothing to write home about. The Oaks Convention Center is essentially a big steel warehouse with concrete floors. Because the convention was divided between two large halls, one for the marketplace and indie showcase and one for the arcade and event stage, it could be awkward getting around. The bathroom lines could get pretty long (it is a con) and the food was overpriced and mediocre (again, con). That said, it’s not the worst place to hold a convention, but it’s not as interesting or cool a venue as some that I have been to.

Who is it for?
If you are all about buying and playing games, this is a great convention. There was a lot on offer to play and over 50 vendors in the marketplace, making the whole thing feel like a big swapmeet. If you are interested in indie games or talking about game making with the people who are doing it right now, then the Indie Showcase alone is worth getting a ticket. There were concerts and cosplay wrestling, so if those kinds of shows are your thing then that’s a decent reason to attend. Just expect to kill some time in the arcade and marketplace between shows you want to see.

If you are more interested in the cosplay scene, community meetups, or people watching, then Too Many Games is hard to recommend. The venue is bad for photography and there wasn’t a lot of cosplay around. Aside from smash tournaments and a pokemon event, there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of organized community meetups either.

Did you like it?
I definitely did. Too Many Games felt kind of like someone had taken the gameroom and dealers hall from a larger convention and turned them into their own thing. I’m used to attending conventions that are a little more scattershot in what they offer and it was cool attending a convention that had a strong focus on gaming. I also liked the fact that I could get to things that looked interesting without fighting through fifteen thousand other people to get to it. Sometimes small conventions can feel empty or like they needed to stretch their content but Too Many Games stayed engaging and entertaining for the whole time.

My Experience at Too Many Games

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One month ago marked the beginning of Too Many Games and the first time I’ve attended it. Now, I am excited to tell you all about my first experience there. Of course, I was nervous. Not only was this my first time at this particular con but this is also my first time at any convention as press.

Too Many Games was held in the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, and ran from Friday, June 24th to Sunday, June 26th. I’d never been to the Expo center and it’s almost a hidden secret, but all I had to do was follow the traffic and I found it fairly easily.

Immediately upon entering, I was greeted by the friendliest con staff that I’d ever met. Ushering me to where I needed to get my badge and then into the gaming room.

This was a magical room. Filled with TV’s, chairs and arcade games, nearly wall to wall. It was a thing of beauty. I saw Nintendo, Super Nintendo, GameCube, Sega and so many more systems hooked up. There were flickering screens with childhood titles inviting me to sit down and relive so many memories.

Of course, I stopped to play a few games, but what caught my interest were the music games towards the back, located just before the entrance to the tournament area of the gaming room. If music met whack-a-mole, this is what you’d have and I loved every second of it. There were several of these, most names I had never heard of and, of course, DDR was there in at least two different spaces.

This was a gamer mecca that I was proud to be a part of. From the sounds of the games to the hum of chatter to the rotating DJ’s in the corner, the noise was a choir of all the things I loved. At the same time, though, nothing was so loud you couldn’t have a conversation. I adored the adorable handheld lounge off to the side, furnished by Yogibo, where players were invited to sit and game in absolute comfort. I knew I’d never get up again if I sat down. I also loved that Save Point was there to fix any games as they malfunctioned or broke. I noticed that some didn’t last the whole weekend, but I knew they were being played constantly since I walked in on Friday.

Next to the game room was the concert hall, complete with stage, chairs, awesome lighting and a tech booth. Several bands played, along with a few DJ’s. They all sounded amazing, but I didn’t stop in for more than a moment at a time. There was so much to see and a lot of people to talk to.

I spent the majority of my time on the merchant floor, which was large and lead into the guest booths, developers area and gaming tables. I didn’t spend a lot of time at the gaming tables, but I did chat with the people running it, Sunmesa Events. I had never stopped in a gaming area at a con, so this was new to me. I love the concept. You pick a game, drop your ID with them and go play. It’s an awesome concept I wish I saw at more places. There were a few games I knew and so many I’d never heard of. I am still sad I didn’t get a chance to play the huge Settlers of Catan they had set up, but alas, I had a job to do. Sunmesa Events also handled all the non-video game tournaments, such as Magic: The Gathering, Love Letter and more.

The vendors were abundant and so very, very tempting. The treasures that I would have bought if I had the money… I’d have room for nothing else. I was interested to see so many of the vendors were selling old school videos games. Of course, this wasn’t shocking, but I am used to seeing one or two at a convention. This being my first gaming convention, though, I was floored. Not only was it beautiful, but it was also inspiring.

I also saw an array of board games. There were some vendors who had the typical or ‘traditional’ board games for sale, but I, of course, ooohed and ahhhed over the new school of board games and names I’d never seen before. The vendor array was simply incredible. I enjoyed each and every table. If I had the time to have talked to every vendor there, I would have, but alas, I did not.

So let’s talk about where I spent the majority of my time: the developers floor. I loved every minute of it. So let me tell you about all the new friends we made there!

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