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2008 Origins Highlights

Posted on July 2, 2008 by Flames

Earlier this week we posted an initial Origins Report which featured a few teasers for interviews that guest blogger Michael Erb had lined up while he was at the convention. Also included in that first post is the list of Origins Award Winners for this year. Today Michael shows off a few of the photos he snapped while wandering the hall and highlights some of the publishers he made contact with throughout the weekend…

2008 Origins Report by Michael Erb

The 2008 Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, wrapped up Sunday evening, and I think it’s safe to say this was a pretty good year for the event. Though there were fewer vendors than in years past and several of the big companies were again a no-show, at least in the exhibitors hall, the weekend Game Fair Pass that allowed casual fans and families to visit for pretty cheap seemed to draw people in. I saw a lot of families on Saturday (my last day of the fair) and there seemed to be a lot of activity anywhere you looked.

Horror-wise there wasn’t as much of a presence this year as in year’s past. Several of the stand-by Vampire LARPs (live-action role-playing) were still in full swing, but the big dog White Wolf had a much smaller presence and booth this year, using part of their space to plug EVE Online, an MMORPG set in future space.

However, there were still some cool things to see and do for those with darker tastes. Most notably was the convention’s Braaains Track, which featured seminars and events surrounding zombies and horror. This included “The Influence of Zombie Movies on Games” and “If You Were a Scary Zombie …” seminars, and tournaments of zombie-themed games like “Zombie Fluxx” by Looney Labs and “Zombietown” by Twilight Creations.

Speaking of Twilight Creations, they had a really nice booth this year near the center of the exhibitor hall with several areas for game demos, running some of their popular products like “Zombies!!!,” the aforementioned “Zombietown” and the very cool looking “Innsmouth Escape.” I had a chance to briefly talk to the people at Twilight Creations before making my way over to the other major horror booth …

Flying Frog Productions! This group too was showing off several horror-themed games, including the very cinematic looking “Last Night on Earth” and the creepy Victorian-esque game “A Touch of Evil.” All of Flying Frog’s products have really high production values and are intended to look like the movie genres they seek to emulate. I did some cool interviews with the Flying Frog people, and I hope to get more information out about that soon.

It was hard passing by the Midnight Syndicate or the Nox Arcana booths without being drawn in by their haunting sounds. Both were showcasing horror and gaming soundtracks that were simply incredible. I stopped by each booth briefly to shake hands and set up interviews, so hopefully in the near future I will be bringing you more information about both of these cool groups.

ARC Dream was showing off its “Monsters and Other Childish Things” game, which features misfit students who can create horrendous imaginary friends who battle against the adults out to destroy them. Kind of like “Pokemon” and “Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends” … if Great Cthulhu himself were dreaming of them. This is a game I hope to look at more down the road, and I also am working with some of the people at ARC Dream to do a feature story on a cool program they are doing with a middle school in Alabama using “Monsters” as a springboard.

Speaking of Cthulhu, if you really wanted to check out the elder god in all his misshapen glory, “Cthulhu Corner” was the place to be. This booth had a lock on the Lovecraft-inspired swag, from limited edition statues available only at the booth to just about any Lovecraft book/story collection you could desire.

My personal favorite at “Cthulhu Corner” and the steal of the show was the packs of Call of Cthulhu dice. Two ten-sided dice, each with an elder sign in place of the 0 (10) side, and a six-sided die with the Miskatonic University symbol in place of the 1. These bad boys were only $4, so I couldn’t resist buying a set for myself.

Outside of the exhibitors hall the Rogue Cthulhu room was bathed in the eerie glow of a dozen blacklights. Sessions of “Call of Cthulhu” and similar games were going on almost all hours, but I didn’t linger too long, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how anyone could read their character sheet with it glowing purple like that.

I didn’t make it to any of the LARPs, most of which were held either in the middle of the afternoon or late at night. There also were showings of some horror movies at the con, but I couldn’t get away from the show floor long enough to sit down and watch a film.

All in all, a pretty cool two days for me and a very cool five days for some lucky gamers and geeks.

I will be bringing you more information on some of the games I saw and interviews I managed to snag as soon as I get some time to sift through my notes and audio recordings.

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