Let this serve as my public announcement that I plan to attend the 2011 Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio from June 22nd through the 26th. I’ll be acting a little bit as a blogger, a little as an indie game producer, and a little as a courier (helping to lug a publisher friend’s sellable goods cross-country). But mostly I plan to arrive as player and lover of games. This will be my fourth Origins, but the first where that’s my primary role.
I last attended in 2006 along with the rest of the Volity team, and we were so full of agenda, weighed down with hurriedly-printed flyers and a will to introduce ourselves to every single company on the show floor — never mind that we only vaguely knew what we were selling.
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t sell anything, but we did surprise ourselves with how easy it is to network, saying hello to strangers in a self-selecting setting, and quickly exploring common business interests in friendly conversation. It felt immediately fun and rewarding, even if we didn’t earn a dime right then. Learning to push back against our shy-nerd instincts like this proved an important step for both Zarf and myself and our subsequent, individual indie-game pursuits.
Didn’t leave a whole lot of room for actually playing any games, though, so we went home educated but also exhausted and impoverished, with the company wobbling to an effective stop a few months later. Thus it may have taken me a few years to reconnect Origins with, you know, having any fun.
In 2002 and 2004, I attended Origins less as a game-player than as a fan. At the turn of the millenium, Looney Labs declared Origins to be the home of its annual Big Experiment, its very own con-within-a-con. Every year the Looneys reserve a large room across from the main expo hall, turning it into a weekend-long event in its own right, with its own schedule full of panels, tutorials, and tournaments.
(The Big Experiment provided a model for the annual World IF Summit that has operated within PAX East since last year. So if you were wondering why the IF Suite gives away Origins-style ribbons, even though they don’t quite fit the portrait-orientation PAX badges, there you have it.)
A decade ago I was very much a rabid Mad Lab Rabbit, as Looney Labs called its club of trufans at the time, and came to Origins with a gaggle of fellow fans from Boston expressly because of the Big Experiment. And thus did I spend the greater part of Origins hard at work in the “lab,” dedicated to spreading the Looney gospel to visitors, mainly in the form of game demonstrations. Visiting the rest of the show and playing “off-brand” games was dessert, something to do after-hours.
I look forward to seeing the Looneys and my old friends from that fandom again, and there’s a nonzero chance I’ll don a coat for old times’ sake and play a round or two of Fluxx with a curious visitor, but I don’t plan to spend six hours intensely touring passers-by through the Looney canon. My trufan days are behind me; I’m far more interested today in exploring as much as I can of what other people are doing in the world of tabletop games.
If you plan on joining me in this exploration, do track me down at the show and say hi! This is going to be fun.