This weekend was a very full one. We attended GaymerX2, a convention which emphasized providing a safe event for the LGBTQ community, but was inclusive for everyone too. We got tickets to attend because the folks behind Cards Against Humanity were sponsoring the event and we figured they’d have something cool for us there.
We were right. The CAH folks brought a zine they printed of bad emails and their responses. They brought Reject Packs and candy as well. They also sponsored and hosted an area full of fun games that were curated by IndieCade. The “Some Games We Like” area was a big hit for me. I spent a ton of time there, hanging out, playing games and watching others play games too.
Triad, a puzzle game that has you trying to fit three people and a cat into the same bed. There is at least one way to finish the game but I would suspect that there are probably multiple solutions. It is such a simple concept and very rudimentary game mechanics but I kept going back to it and it kept captivating me.
Extrasolar, a browser based planet rover ARG inspired by the Mars Rover. I also got the pleasure of meeting the creator of Extrasolar, Rob Jagnow. He features in the game as Dr. Robert Turing and wore his uniform for the con, also providing tech support for some of the other developer’s demos while they were away from their tables.
Mainichi tells the story of its author going out for a coffee in a way that can either be uplifting or depressing. It is a simple game made with RPG Maker that tells a true-to-life story through its character and dialogue choices. No matter which way you go through the day, it doesn’t end 100% happy.
Depression Quest is a text adventure played via your browser that deals with coping with or not coping with depression and its consequences.
Perfect Woman was a really cool Kinect concept game that has you make personal life choices for the entire lifespan of a woman. You pick their careers and then use your body to shadow the on-screen character’s movements in a bit of a dance move/puppet kind of way. Matching their actions gets you points. Failing gets you less.
Ninja Shadow Warrior was little more than a photobooth but still a fun experience.
HugPunx isn’t so much a game but a trippy walk across the screen hugging everything in sight.
Story War, a card game I already own but still haven’t played was also present which makes me happy.
Other games in the area that I enjoyed playing but didn’t necessarily win me over were:
Cry$tal Warrior Ke$ha, a very simplistic browser based Choose Your Own Ke$ha adventure that I just couldn’t relate to.
Blue Lacuna, a text adventure that is far larger than I could ever enjoy. It is so big they published a very large novel from it.
Nostrum, a game for Oculus Rift that you fly a plane around in. I can’t wear a Rift headset without getting dizzy to the point of sickness. The game is also a very early and not all that satisfying build. The developer was present for our playthrough and said he intends to make a non-VR version of his game. The demo Youtube link seems much more enjoyable in non-VR but still a bit rough around the edges.
We also got to play Slap .45, a card game that Max Temkin is working on with the folks at Gnarwhal Studios. It wasn’t officially being exhibited but we were happy to take part in a playtest with art designer Kellen Jett and another player. The artwork was heavily inspired by Sergio Leone westerns and had a lot of charm. I chose the Union army and my wife chose the Texas Sheriffs. Kellen picked The Railroad Gang and I didn’t really pay attention to the other woman’s selection. I was too busy trying not to get killed. I died first. My wife won. It was a bittersweet victory for her as her dog got caught in the crossfire. I was surprised and very happy to have the gameplay experience and look forward to their Kickstarter in August!
In the expo hall, there was a booth for the local Ingress Enlightened which was both cool to see and depressing for me as I’m their direct opposition. There was an EFF booth and an Ubisoft booth that had daily raffles we didn’t win. There was a 2K Games booth and a booth for a January Anime/Cartoon/games convention called aod coming to San Francisco Airport’s Hyatt in late January.
There were a couple of artsy booths and there were a couple of exhibitors of small press games. I played two and bought one of them.
I played a quick game of Dungeon Escape which was fun but somehow didn’t really appeal to me. The game I bought was Universal Storytelling System which takes the mechanics of RPG systems and simplifies them and lets anyone with a deck of playing cards craft stories and have fun. I really liked the system and the physical book and character sheet was only $8. Sadly, a Kickstarter for a more polished book didn’t get funded last summer but I really like the concept and hope to craft some fun games with friends using that system.
I also got to play some classic DuckTales on NES in the video game room, while Michele played Katamari Damacy.
I got to meet Jessica Merizan from Bioware, who also featured on Heroes of Cosplay this year on SyFy and David Gaider, Patrick Weekes, Karin Weekes and Robyn Theberge who all work on Dragon Age and Mass Effect games in Edmonton that eat up plenty of my free time in the years before and after I post this message.
We got to talk with Jenn, Trin, Emily, Alex, Claire and Max from CAH as well throughout the weekend and collected a bunch of buttons.
We also attended panels. My wife went to a bunch more than me since she could attend on Friday and I was at work. One was a very heady panel, “Internetting While Female” about what it is like to write or videotape videogame reviews from the female perspective, and the hate that spews forth from some parts of the internet, in response to opinions which are honest and sometimes carefully crafted to avoid bias. I also went to a Bioware panel about romance and Freddie Prinze Jr.
We also got to play with an OUYA for the first time and I have to say that I really liked the console. I demoed Read Only Memories, a game made by the people that ran the two GaymerX conventions. It is a graphic adventure game very much like a game called Snatcher that was made my Hideo Kojima before Metal Gear. The game itself didn’t appeal to me but I liked the OUYA controller and flow. My wife and I played Duck Game a popular and very fun arena combat game. We both also sampled Sentris a game that takes music and Tetris and merges them into a circular playfield. We attended a talk with the developer of Sentris in the OUYA lounge as well and I’m excited to see what further developments come out of both the game and the console in the future. I’m strongly considering purchasing an OUYA after the research and gameplay this weekend.
It was a small convention but we still had plenty to do and I’m hoping that next year, despite dropping the GaymerX and gay-centric branding, that they make a con that has anyone who attends feel just as comfortable as they have the past couple of years. It was a great time at a local venue and a welcome alternative to somewhat lacking experiences we had at the big cons we’ve been going to.
Friday night, we also had the opportunity to see Charming Hostess and Jesse Olsen Bay in concert at Red Poppy Arthouse. It was in celebration of Jesse’s new album, Makings, a compilation of songs written taken from a collage of writings from his grandmother Tillie Olsen. Charming Hostess, featuring Jewlia Eisenberg’s lead vocal and harmonium and Cynthia Taylor’s powerful vocals, did a short set of Bosnian songs and then another short set of Union songs in English. It is always great to see Jewlia’s band in any incarnation but just having it stripped back to her and Cynthia was a killer combination and very enjoyable.
Jesse brought his cousin, poet Rebekah Edwards along to collaborate during his set. She read from some of her book of poetry, then’s elsewhere, which also had a connection to her grandmother Tillie and also read lyrics to some of Jesse’s songs. Their set was excellent and also oddly the first time I can recall that we’ve seen Jesse play a piano in a straight manner without some form of experimentation. The songs as part of this project are beautiful and are available as a CD or download via Bandcamp. Our photos from the show can be seen on Flickr.
We had time to catch up with a friend who recently returned from Europe for dinner and dessert on Saturday night as well. We had a nice meal at The Chieftain Irish Pub and tasty banana split and cheesecake burger at Burger Bar for dessert.
All that and Tommy Ramone died and Germany won the World Cup. Ingress was finally released on iOS. Go join the Resistance!