July 1, 2012 – My leg bounces up and down in anticipation of my next turn. Obsessed: how many provinces did he buy? Four? Five? Is this just now his fifth? God, just finish your turn already. My gaze wanders, and I catch a lass at a far off table biting her lip, leaning forward as she analyzes her opponent's board. She grips and wrinkles her cards in-hand. What story does that table tell? The sultry smell of lo mein meanders in my direction. Free food? A chef? Snap. Snap snap snap. "Bob!" My opponent chuckles, "Take your turn!" I shake. The air is crispy cool, but my tongue flicks at the salty sweat caressing my lip. I see the province on his discard pile. Damn! I need eight dollars. How much is here? Three golds? Yes! Snatching up the province confidently, I smirk at my opponent. He buys up the last two gardens and already declares victory. Failure. Shaking his hand, I blankly stare over his shoulder. Should I have invested in more buys? Dejected, I have to decide: should I hit the dealer room, auction house, or board room to game with my friends? That tournament's about to start, but I won't have time to eat. My opponent brings me a plate of noodles. I sit.
This is Origins.
Origins Game Fair is a gaming festival catered towards board games, tabletop RPGs, miniatures, and collectable card game enthusiasts. Based in Columbus, Origins took place from May 30 to June 3 this year. A gamer paradise, attendees could play games over the entirety of their stay, rub elbows with commercial and independent developers, buy discounted new goods in the dealer room and auction house, or just socialize with like-minded friends you've yet to meet. I chose to partake in all of these.
The industry leaders – Rio Grande Games, Mayfair Games, and many more – had demos in the convention center and dealer room. Here, employees and volunteers assisted passersby in learning the hottest games, most of which were new releases. Whether you're a competitor, casual gamer, or just looking for something to get the family together once a week, developers had something for you in all genres. At most a long hallway away, the dealer room offered deals aplenty – haggling encouraged. Though, the dealer room wasn't the only way to get one's paws on new games.
For those who insist gaming is serious business, tournaments ran throughout the week, drawing in new and veteran gamers with their siren song of plaques, fleeting celebrity, and free games. Don't expect a grand fanfare at each tournament, though – most were conducted in giant rooms with hundreds of other gamers. Though dozens of tournaments occurred throughout the event, just knowing about them was a feat in itself. Boasting thousands of events during the week, the organizers struggled to neatly list each event – whether figurine painting, miniatures demos, or tournaments – in a giant book of tiny print and tabs. The good news? Something was always going on, no matter one's tastes.
Truly enormous, the central part of the festivities included the dealer room, board room, and publishers offering demos of new games. Ever-popular, the board room allowed players to check out games from a vast library hosted by gaming groups in the area. Don't know anyone? That's all right; those looking to fill games with players erected cones, and everyone seemed welcoming.
However, the outskirts and far-reaches of the convention center hosted other activities, including war college for novice war gamers, role-playing rooms, live-action role-playing areas, auction houses, late night social games for those allergic to sleep, and so much more that I either never got to or didn't know about. Thus, those looking to break away from traditional board gaming can enjoy many distractions. Although lacking in the area of PC and console RPGs, the sensibilities included in board gaming, D&D, and collectible card gaming run parallel to the more electronically-driven role-player.
In terms of logistics, Origins offers reasonable lodging and food. Depending on where you look, food can either be fairly priced or absurdly expensive. Convenience demands a high price, so those who like to, you know, eat once in a while should find the food court early on. Though the closest hotels can be a bit pricy, those not adverse to a healthy walk after a long day of sitting can enjoy cheaper accommodations. Even better: do you have friends in Columbus, one of the most relaxed and technologically savvy cities in the US according to Forbes?
The next Origins Game Fair is planned to be held on June 12 - 16 of next year, so free up your work calendar and make sure to hit this utopia of gaming for at least a couple of days. Truly, Origins offers something for everyone: casual or hardcore, young or old, male or female. You may not regret not going, because you won't know what you're missing, but if you do go, you'll be an attendee for life.