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Arts & Culture

Teen Critic Reflects on Gam3rCon

Gam3rCon back in July 2013.
Beth Accomando
Gam3rCon back in July 2013.

Gaming convention offers haven to gamers seeking smaller venue during Comic-Con

Gam3rCon

Note from Beth Accomando, KPBS' Cinema Junkie: In the sensory overload of Comic-Con, it’s easy to miss a lot. Teen critic Robert Mackey directs our attention to Gam3rCon, an event that runs at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center simultaneously with but separate from Comic-Con. Here’s his summary of the event. (See video above of Gam3rCon from 2013)

Last weekend, as the crowds flocked to the chaos and fanfare of Comic-Con, there was another exciting, albeit lesser known, convention in progress just down the street at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center. Dice spin, a crowd gathers around the glow of a screen, cards are played, and battles are won and lost — this is Gam3rCon.

Comic-Con caters to a huge audience and draws convention goers from all over the world, whereas Gam3rCon is a more humble affair that caters to a smaller but lively and passionate audience of video game and tabletop gaming enthusiasts, both local and from abroad. With a wide range of content, including panels and workshops on subjects as varied as “Chainmail 101” and “Voiceover in Video Games,” and even a Live Action Role Play (commonly abbreviated as “LARP”) session, there was something for gamers of all colors and kind at this con.

This was not my first year at Gam3rCon, and though it had changed slightly, it is still the event I know and love. My Gam3rCon experience this year consisted of almost all of the programming on Saturday, and a decent amount of time spent both in their tabletop lounge and the video game area they kept open constantly. The panels they had this year were all fascinating, and they managed to get some intriguing panelists, such as Eliza-Jane Schneider (“South Park”) for their voice over panel, and the people behind OC Remix, a popular platform on the web for remixes of video game soundtracks.

The one major regret I had this year at Gam3rCon is that I (for the second time!) managed to miss the production of “GAM3RS,” a play about online gaming that is performed annually at Gam3rCon. You may have noticed the similarity in artistic license taken with spelling in the names of “GAM3RS” and “Gam3rCon,” and the reason for this is that the play is what initially incepted the convention. Back in 2009, co-playwright Brian Bielawski was searching for a place to put on his new play “Gam3rs” but couldn't find a space for it at Comic-Con, so he hosted the aptly named Gam3rCon to host the first showing of his play, and so the convention was born.

One of the most entertaining areas of the convention was the tabletop lounge, in which I found people playing board games and table-based games of many different sorts. There were people playing the nerdy classics like “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Settlers of Catan,” but there were also many new and upcoming indie board games out on the tables.

I sat down for a while and had a blast playing a space-themed card strategy game called “Eminent Domain.” The video game arena was similarly exciting, and there were several friendly competitions for small prizes going on throughout the night and day. Obscured in the very back of the Video Game Arena, I found a hidden gem of an exhibit: the “Retrocade” in which there was a plethora of older gaming systems, ranging from an original Atari 2600 running Pong to an NES displaying the original Super Mario Brothers.

If the lines and crowds of Comic-Con aren't for you, than maybe next year you owe yourself the favor of checking out Gam3rCon. It is a well-run convention catering to a great group of people with a lot of interesting content, and some great panels. If you feel like you've missed your chance, than you'll be happy to hear that they have monthly game days, as well as the annual convention. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the convention this year, and you'd be likely to find me at a few of the game days, and you'll definitely find me at the convention next year. I hope I see you there!

Robert Mackey is a 15-year-old teen critic for the KPBS blog Cinema Junkie. He loves media, specifically film and video games, and hopes to work in the entertainment industry in the future. He is also the son of KPBS station manager Deanna Mackey.