Friday, May 9, 2014

Origins for Newbies - What to Expect

What is Origins?

The Origins Game Fair is a yearly gaming con that takes place in Columbus, OH, run by GAMA, and has been going on since 1975. It boasts an attendance of over 10,000 people, with over 11,000 people attending in 2013. If I had to guess, it is probably the second largest gaming con in North America, behind GenCon.

This year will be my 13th year attending Origins, and one of the things I've found is that it can be overwhelming for people new to the convention and who don't know what to expect. Unfortunately, there aren't any good resources that I know of for Origins newbies anymore, so I've decided to put a number of posts up detailing Origins, what to expect, and answering questions I see commonly asked.

Note that this is based on my experiences at Origins, and I am not affiliated in any with GAMA, and therefore do not speak officially for them or the con.

What to expect?

Origins takes place in the Columbus Convention Center, in the heart of downtown Columbus, Ohio. The convention takes over the entire center, even spilling out into the connected hotels for some events.

Looking down at
Origins registration

Origins is a gaming convention, so you can expect to find all types of games being played. These include role-playing games (RPGs), board games, card games, live action roleplaying games (LARPs), miniatures, and more. There usually aren't any video games there, but every few years a few will pop up.

It truly is an amazing site to look down one of the main halls and see people sprawled out, playing every type of game imaginable.

The large ballrooms throughout the con are usually dedicated to a specific type of game or for a company. This includes a room for the miniatures game, a room for board games, and of course the vendor room. Sprinkled throughout the rooms in the rest of the convention center are other games being played.

What if I don't know where to go?

The sheer size of the convention center can be overwhelming, but don't worry. There are signs all over to help direct you and tell you what is in each room, the Origins guidebook will contain a map, information kiosks are present to get directions, and you can always ask a passing gamer. Don't worry, most of us don't bite.

How much does it cost?

In order to go to Origins, you need to buy a badge. Badges can be purchased from the Origins website, and cost varying amount depending on the type of badge, how long you want to go, and when you purchase it. You can also buy badges on-site at the con.

In general, you can buy either a full-show badge or a 1-day badge. These badges allows you to go to the convention and enjoy everything it offers. A full-show badge lets you go the entire time it is going on, a 1-day badge allows you to go for just one day.

If you just want to go around, consider getting the Family Day Pass. These are passes that allow a family 4 limited access to the convention. You'll be able to get into the exhibit hall, art show, and a few other places. However, you will NOT be able to buy tickets to play in game events. This pass is usually only available on Sunday, the last day of the con.

The family pass is a great way to check out the con without spending a lot of money.

Once you have your badge, you may also want to buy tickets, ribbons, or generic tokens. I'll cover those in another post.

What Should I Bring?

Origins is a fairly large gaming convention, so there are some things you should remember to grab.

  • Comfortable shoes - You'll be walking a lot. I mean a lot. So bring shoes that won't kill your feet. (Gel insert are wonderful too.)
  • Deodorant - Yes, people smell and at a gaming con the term "gaming funk" has come to existence for a reason.
  • Dice - If you are into RPGs, don't forget your dice! While the GM will certainly have some you can borrow, and you can buy dice in the vendor room, its probably not a bad idea to have your own.
  • Money - The vendor room is awesome and you'll inevitably find something you want to get.
  • Snacks - Not a bad idea to pack a couple small snacks in case you get hungry in the middle of a game.
  • Sweatshirt - It may seem counter-intuitive to bring a sweatshirt or hoodie to Columbus in the middle of summer, but the center cranks up the AC and some rooms can get pretty frigid.
  • Water bottle - Most rooms have a water cooler in it, or near the entrance, so you can easily fill up when you need to.
Is that all?

No! Expect to have fun! Origins is one of the few places you can go where all you do is play games all day for 5 days straight. Take advantage of it!

Did I miss anything? Shoot me a message or leave a comment.

Origins: What to Expect
Origins: Gaming
Origins: Where to stay, Where to eat
Origins: Kids
Origins: What to do 
Origins: Gaming Groups

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