Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gen Con 2013 part 1

My original intent had been to make a post shortly after getting back from Gen Con, but it turns out I needed a little more time to recuperate.

I left Friday after getting off of work, and got to Gen Con about 9pm.  Throw in getting parked and to my hotel room, and I didn't find food until 10pm.  Got to try the Steel Soul Red at the Ram, but otherwise I hadn't really broken into Gen Con by this point.

Got up early and out the door, and ended up getting to the dealers room early.  There was a set of exclusive Robotech miniatures that were being sold at the Palladium booth in limited quantities, and since people hadn't started lining up yet I decided to snag a good position.  By the time the dealers room was ready to open things had gotten pretty crowded:

From there it was a mad dash to get my exclusives.  Which I did.  I then spent the day shopping for myself and friends who couldn't attend, meeting up with friends from across the nation, and getting a look at some awesome costumes!

Here's a few highlights from the show.  The biggest one is the reaction I got from Scott C. Brown, the actor who played Flynn the Fine on The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, when I gave him the painted Pile of Dead Bards:

There is something wonderful about getting such a strong reaction from such a simple gift.  The rest of the ZOE crew were also rather impressed with the piece, and I received much glowing praise.  It was both humbly and inspiring.

I ended up meeting with Howard Taylor, author and artist for Schlock Mercenary.  It's been one of my favorite webcomics for years, and Howard has been attending Gen Con for quite some time.  Over the past several years I've gone by to pick up his latest print collection, and to get a sketch in the back.  This year I asked to be drawn in the Schlock-verse.

I was asked how I wanted him to approach the subject of my hairline, and I replied that he should be as generous or harsh as he sees fit.  While I look much older in the pic I think he made up for it by giving me a better weight profile:

There was so much to do at Gen Con that this year's priority was on friends.  As a result I didn't really get any gaming in, except for a bit of a life-sized version of Elk Fest. 

It was a fun shuffle-board romp.  The idea was to use the discs to make a path for your elk to cross, but you could also use them to knock your opponents disk (and their elk) out of place.  I didn't do very well, and my Elk got splooshed:

I had a lot of fun for the short time that I was there, and I've already started looking forward to next year!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Gamers: Hands of Fate (Review!)

So being a backer to the latest Gamers movie means I got a chance to see the film a day early!  Woot!  Short version:  The movie is great.  Go watch it.  It's free for a couple of weeks!  Go here:

If you're having trouble with the above link try it on Vimeo

Ok extended review time.  After watching this movie I've found myself invested on two different levels. There's the level of the plot itself, which is fun and whimsy, and then there's the subplot of women in gaming, which has become a larger issue in the gaming community.

If you liked The Gamers: Dorkness Rising then you're going to love The Gamers: Hands of Fate.  Matt Vancil weaves another wonderful plot involving the world of gamers and their struggles.  This time around the focus is on the realm of Collectible Card Game (CCG) players, and the fictional game of Romance of the 9 Empires.  The movie makes use of some scenes in green-screen to help create a representation of the fictional world of Countermay, which is the setting of R9E.  Rather than use the world of Countermay for gags and jokes it actually gives the fictional characters their own subplot.  It delivers exposition in the form of a small vignette that gives the audience a deeper connection to the setting of the game, and helps them to understand the level of passion the players for R9E feel.

Half of the movie occurs at Gen Con, the best four days in gaming!  Most of these scenes were filmed at Gen Con 2012, and for me it was quite a rush to see a place that I am quite familiar with as I have been attending Gen Con since it came to Indianapolis in 2003.  A film about gamers that goes to the biggest convention for gamers, and uses the environment to its advantage?  Brilliant!  It really blends the background into the movie seamlessly.  Steven Wolbrecht's music helps to add a layer of emotion to the plot and subplots as they unfold around the characters.  Overall it doesn't dominate, but you would notice if it was missing; which to me is the sign of a great score.

The acting was beautiful.  Each of the actors did an amazing job bringing their characters to life, and you can see the story/struggle being told in their expressions and body language just as much as the dialog and setting.  To my personal delight there were several crossovers and allusions to other productions from Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, including a couple of very hardcore cosplayers speaking in Orcish!  There is so much fun in this movie that it's another must-see for all gamers!

The main plot of the movie could best be described as: Cas (Brian Lewis) attempting to earn the attention of Natalie (Trin Miller) who has zero interest in just another gamer guy.  This might seem like a classic love story at first glance, but the reality is much different.  Cas seems to be completely unaware of the conflict that Natalie faces as a gamer.  Through the events in the movie he gains an understanding of a different group of gamers as well as being a vehicle for showcasing the conflicts that all female gamers face.  The dialog is very natural, but a bit harsh at points.  Matt Vancil and Nathan Rice chose to tackle the issue of women in gaming head on rather than tiptoe around it, and the entirety of the film is stronger because of it.  There may be some parts that are uncomfortable to watch, but it shines a light into a darker area of the gaming culture that needs to be looked at.  There is a lot to take away from this film, and it is definitely worth your time to watch whether you are a gamer or know gamers.

There's a lot more I'd like to address, but I'd like to wait a few weeks before doing a more in-depth look in order to give others time to explore it and discover what lies within.  I head out for Gen Con soon, and my next post will have more pics from me onsite.