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Origins Game Fair: The Resurrection

Other than one skip year in the middle of all those surgeries, I've been to Origins every year since 2004. In the early days, it was often my socialization con, where I would chat and meet up with all the people who I couldn't spend time with at Gencon. There were few signature events that I felt I had to attend and I spent a lot of the time just hobo'ing around. Honestly, I sort of got the impression that whoever was running the Origins Game Fair also suffered from some of the same aimlessness and malaise. It was a feed-forward system where disaster fed upon disaster, all of which served to drive down attendance and interest in the convention. It seemed that for a while, not a single year would go by without some form of chaos. Event registration snafu where tickets to RPGs were accidentally sold with no seat limits, failure of the ticket printers, game companies shifting all their new releases to gencon, the pulling out of Wizards of the Coast and other vendors, etc.

It got bad enough that at its nadir (which I would estimate was around 3-4 years ago) the exhibit hall was like a ghost town. I still remember being in the hall on a friday at midmorning and being able to see all the way to the other end of the aisle with only 3-4 people as obstructions. I had a lot of conversations with vendors and long-time attendees about how much longer we thought Origins could even hold out before it was forced to do something drastic to save itself. It was simply too close in proximity to gencon, both temporally and spatially.

Despite everything which signaled its doom, Origins seems to have clawed itself out of eminent destruction. In this case, it seems that a rising geek tide has lifted all convention boats. We've seen how Gencon has benefited hugely from the success of San Diego Comic Con and the renaissance of geek chic. Those who can't get passes to comic con, or had no interest in gaming conventions at all prior to comic con, are now flooding the streets of Indianapolis. This trend seems to now be benefiting Origins as well. The population boom at gencon has made many people rethink whether Gencon is worth the cost and aggravation (I'm looking at you, hotel reg system) and I'm sure other regional conventions, including Origins, have been the beneficiaries.

I planned to attend Origins this year without much real sense of anticipation or any positive expectations. I had no real events I was interested in and at most, I figured I would use the con to socialize. I had such an empty schedule in fact that I sort of scrambled around for something with which to occupy my time. I was sort of afraid that if I didn't have anything planned I would simply end up lying on my hotel bed watching tv and refreshing facebook for most of each day. I had spent part of last Origins helping out (unasked) at the Mayfair booth, learning and then helping to demo their games. I had nothing better to do and it was a small way of storing up pre-emptive karma. I tried to make the association official this year but the Mayfair volunteer system is a shitshow and after receiving no response to multiple emails and forms of contact, I figured I was beating a dead horse. It turned out though that Curt Covert of Smirk & Dagger was returning to Origins after a 10 year hiatus, having been driven out by dwindling attendance numbers and non-existent sales. He needed minions to help run the booth and events, and it game me a chance to repay a debt. If any of you know Curt, you will know that he is an amazing guy. In addition to having a totally cool secret agent name, he's got an incredible sense of humor, his philosophy/motto when it comes to boardgames is 'Games are more fun when you can stab a friend in the back'. It really doesn't get much better than that. He is also incredibly generous with both his time and his games. I first met him years ago at the Double Exposure cons and he was always willing to help with game and prize support for gaming events. I had been the recipient of his largess on numerous occasions and I figured this was a good opportunity to return the favor somewhat. In the end, working with the Smirk & Dagger crew at Origins was an amazing experience. It was probably the best Origins I've had in at least the past 5-6 years. I only wish that I wasn't so decrepit and that I could have pitched in more and perhaps found more time during the convention to meet up with more friends.

So, it's been years since I've posted any convention recaps on this thing. Hell, it's been years and years since I've posted at all on LiveJournal. I'm going to give an Origins recap a whirl though. I even tried to force myself to take more pictures so I would have images to pop on here. Most of you reading this probably already think I take too many pictures, but back in the day I was like a walking asian stereotype when it came to snapping photos. I would spend hours cropping them all and then popping them up into long-rambling LJ entries, documenting every day of the convention experience. I'm not sure I'll be able to force myself to be as thorough this time around, but I will try to give a good recap of Origins.

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