Monday, June 16, 2014

Origins Game Fair thoughts

Origins Game Fair thoughts. . . Most of my comments are based on RPG products and nothing else. Very little else at this con interests me.

Origins is still is not what it once was. Once, it rivaled GenCon, but then GenCon exploded and moved dates. Origins imploded and suffered from the moved dates and internal politics of GAMA.

The dealer hall had fewer dealers than last year and I think the attendance count was up.

The dealer hall had very few third party retailers. The usual Steve Jackson Games/Atlas Games/All things Cthulhu booth and Troll and Toad were present. There were very few industry booths. It was nice to see our UK neighbors attending in the form of Pelgrane Press and Cubicle Seven. Also present were Growling Door Games, IPR, Studio 2 Publishing (who also had Mongoose Publishing items for Traveller), and Catalyst. There were no booths for WotC, Paizo, Eden Studios (who are busy putting together Adventure Maximus shipments), or PSI. I am sure I may have missed folks who were present.

I looked through the event book and did not find any games I was interested in playing. The number of LARPs offered was quite high, but I always thought there were a higher percentage of LARPs at Origins compared to GenCon.

An interesting item on site was the event book. The book consisted of events and maps of the halls – that’s it. There were no ads, no articles on things I could care less about, like blurbs on the special guests. I would prefer them to include a list of sponsors (maybe they were on the cover?), a list of guests (I’m sure they were listed as events, but not called out individually), and a list of dealers. By not listing the dealers in the book, I do not know who I may or may not have missed. Still, it was a book of stuff to experience and I was not forced to weed through articles and ad space versus events. The event book was printed on matte paper, not glossy magazine stock.

Jason Vey and I attended one of Ken Hite’s panels on introducing/using vampires in RPGs. We found Ken entertaining and he was not stumped by any of the attendees.

The North Market is still there and wonderful. We had breakfast and/or second breakfast there on Saturday and Sunday. I spent more money here than in the retailer hall. Of note, we spent money at Bubbles, The Barrel & Bottle, Taste of Belgium, and a few others I don’t recall names of and they aren’t listed on the website. The North Market is a wonderful thing to experience in downtown Columbus. This is a public market/farmer’s market.

Barley’s is slowly getting on board with Origins ala Scotty’s Brewhouse in Indianapolis. They offered a pint glass and a mug with their logo and the Origins logo on it. The 1000 pint glasses were gone by the time we showed up for dinner Friday night. Barley’s offered a convention menu and Jason Vey ordered from it. He liked what he ate, so they are doing something right.

I came home with a copy of Kuro, a birthday gift for my mother, and spices to try out in the kitchen (Peruvian paprika and black peppercorns smoked in Scotch). My wife, the closeted gamer that she is, came home with more product than I.

I would love to see more RPG publishers in attendance. This game fair is the child of GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association. As such, there really should be more game publishers present. I know non-rpg manufacturers were present, but they were scaled back in presence. If GAMA continues as is, I do not think Origins will ever rival GenCon in the next 20 years. I think GAMA needs to devise a way to get more manufacturers involved, but I am no expert in how they can do so. One thought my travelling companions and I discussed was to offer single table booths to members of GAMA at no cost or at a greatly reduced price (say, $200). No tablecloth, no electricity, just pipe and drape behind the booth and an eight foot table. At this price, smaller publishers can afford to show up. They would only need to sell 5-8 core books to cover the cost of the booth. If they sell double that, they cover the cost of food. The manufacturer will need to work hard to cover the costs of hotel space and travel arrangements. However, if Origins is going to potentially take a loss on providing booths at this price, I think the manufacturers need to accept a potential loss in money due to those items in return for the exposure at such a low dollar amount for a booth.

I do not feel I got my monies worth for attending the event. I was determined to come home with product and I only picked up Kuro, because I hoped it would have great art which would look better in print, than in .pdf form. I have not read it, so I do not know if it does or does not. Outside of this book, there was nothing I wanted at the con. If I return next year, I am going to need something else to draw me in, whether it be more seminars or me running the games I want to play at cons (hello, Night’s Black Agents). By not telling me which dealers will be present, I feel like going for just the dealer hall is a shot in the dark. A shot in the dark involving hotel rooms, fuel for my car, fuel for me, boarding our dogs, and time which could be spent doing other, productive things. I would have been happy spending $50 on product.

Side Notes:
  • A special thanks to Hilton for an awesome upgrade to the executive level for our hotel room.
  • Origins, please make your website compatible with Chrome. It looks like the website was created in Microsoft’s FrontPage ten years ago and never updated. I could not access any of your downloads via Chrome. I had to open Internet Explorer, which I do not use outside of required work websites.
  • Gamers, in general, are still a rude lot of people. They leave behind their trash without properly disposing of it. They are inconsiderate to non-whites and non-males. This convention did nothing to dissuade that opinion. I doubt there is much Origins can do about it. We must become better at calling each other out on bad behaviors within our own social groups.