Monday, September 12, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out - But Where Are the Elves?

Let’s talk a little bit about the world’s most popular role-playing experience. A group of friends gets together on a regular basis to hang out. They’ve spent all week talking about it. Some of them set up laptops at the table. Some of them come prepared with notebooks and pencil. They spend a few moments trash-talking, ordering food, getting drinks. The host calls everything to order and soon, the table is off to pretending.

No, it’s not Dungeons & Dragons.

No, it’s not World of Warcraft.

I’m talking about fantasy football.

I’m from Milwaukee. I was sad that Gen Con moved away and even more sad that nothing has come around to take its place locally. But one of the best things about Gen Con Indy are the Saturdays. On the Saturday of the con weekend, there is almost always an exhibition game for the Indianapolis Colts. The convention center and the RCA Dome share a common hallway. The best part of the whole day is watching hardcore football fans and hardcore gaming fans mix and mingle. The guy with his face painted in white and blue is looking at the guy dressed as his Vampire character and thinking “What a weirdo.” The guy dressed as Starke Crimsyn is thinking the same thing about Peyton Manning’s #1 fan.

There is more common ground between tabletop roleplaying and fantasy football. The excellent FX show The League is about a group of friends who live for a fantasy football league. But the characters are perfect archetypes for any hobby. The Guy Who Just Shows Up. The Guy Who Plays For Himself. The Guy Who Drags His SO Along. I’ve seen all of these guys at my table at some point.

These similarities inspired me to run a game for some co-workers. Watching people who have never played before is a wonderful experience. Seeing someone’s eyes light up the first time they come up with a great plan, or make the critical strike, or even fail a dramatic roll is the way to get people hooked on the hobby. (One of my co-workers still talks about how she should have tried for the lower difficulty when sneaking past the goblins. Next time, Abby.)

Both gaming and fantasy football are social activities. I’m excited at the opportunity this week has for people sharing positive experiences with their hobbies. It’s not important how you get together with friends to spend time with them, whether you’re the leader of Starfleet’s NCC-1702 or Milwaukee’s Black and Brew football team. It’s that you spend that time together creating memories.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out - Geek Kon

High light: The seminar for the upcoming 20th Avviversary edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. It had a lot of neat info on White Wolf's upcoming plans, plus got to listen to a lot of cool stories about How Vampire Changed My Life.

Low light: All the Badger fans with flat tires on the side of the road on the way to the game.

Best experience: The Video Game Room, filled with tables and tables of consoles from multiple generations. Plus arcade uprights, big screen Rock Band and those megacades with arcade perfect copies of arcade classics. I played Punch-Out, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Battletoads, Toobin, Final Fight and more.

Worst experience: The Resident Evil Card Game makes Space Hulk look like Chutes and Ladders.

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): At $20, the day pass for the con was a steal. I probably would have paid that for the video game room alone.

Best Freebie:The board game library that worked in a similar manner to the Video Game Room.

Most welcome surprise: The Sprecher Pub across the street was delicious and it was an awesome dinner filled with good friends and good food.

Most unwelcome surprise: We got way too much food at the Sprecher Pub. I loaded up on appetizers and barely touched my main meal.

Best costume: They guy in full 40K Space Marine armor.

Best costume try: It was interesting watching the various ways that people tried to costume as characters wearing very little clothing without getting arrested.

Most amusing costume: The R/C turrtle pulling multiple tiny Daleks. And the  lifesize Dalek was a favorite target of the various Doctors in the hal.

Coolest booth and why:There was a booth for TeslaCon in November. It's supposed to have a fully interactive steampunk murder mystery which sounds like fun.

Strangest moment: Looking around at the 15-to-25-year-olds dressed as cartoon characters and realized I was the Greybearded Old Nerd in the room.

Favorite item available in the Exhibit Hall: Sooo many styrofoam swords.

Stuff bought:
Elder Sign

Stuff got for free:
Mage T-shirt

Stuff that was wanted that was unavailable:
Samurai Champloo soundtrack
Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack

Things to buy after Geek Kon:
I've slowly been watching more anime thanks to Netflix Instamt

Best Quote:
"I'll drag my wife to this next year. She's got a costume and everything."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Onion AV Club - Geek Kon Preview

The garden is blooming. Here is my preview of this weekend's convention in Madison.

I'm taking Brad and Sarah with me on Saturday. Looking forward to meeting some people at the show!

Onion AV Club - Nerds In Love

I made it into the Back to School issue twice with an article about date ideas for nerds in Milwaukee. I think I've done all of these except the walking tours.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Onion AV Club - Freshman's Guide to Good Ink

With students making their way from the sheltered cradle of high school to the bright lights and big city of college, I thought I would do my part to suggest some places to get a tattoo to impress and/or scare the crap out of parents when the come home with laundry.

I actually had to call around a bit for this article. Quite a few places were a bit stunned by the idea of talking to me for a few minutes for some free press.