Ronin Round Table: Not-So-Secret Origins

[Note: It’s a special double-header Friday for Ronin Round Table. Here’s another post, from Steve Kenson, live at Origins in Columbus, OH!]

By the time you read this Ronin Roundtable, I should be attending the Origins Game Fair in downtown Columbus, OH, as a guest of honor, since the convention’s theme this year is "Superheroes" (if they don’t find a way to work the phrase "Secret Origins" into it, that’s an opportunity lost, if you ask me). So, I figured I’d take the opportunity to talk a bit about Origins and my experiences with it, as both a fan and game industry professional.

My first Origins was also my first GenCon, as it happens: GenCon/Origins 1988 was a rare combined event. In those days, Origins moved around from host city to host city, whereas GenCon was held in Milwaukee. That year, both conventions were held jointly on the same weekend. It was quite the introduction to the convention scene for me! At the time, I wasn’t really clear on the distinction between GenCon and Origins, since I spent so much of that first convention wandering around in a star-struck daze.

I didn’t make it to Origins again until the convention had settled into its new permanent home in Columbus. By that point, I was making forays into the freelancing scene, and I discovered something about Origins: It was a better "hangout" convention than GenCon. Smaller and not quite so heavily attended, Origins afforded professional attendees a bit more down-time, as well as better opportunities to slip away from their booths for a meeting, as well as drinks or dinner in the evenings. I was able to make a lot of freelance contacts at Origins, and then follow up on them at GenCon, since, for many years, I attended both conventions, particularly once I signed on to work full time for Green Ronin.

Then, a few years ago, Green Ronin, like a number of companies, cut back on convention expenses, and that included no longer attending Origins, since it took place so close to GenCon in August: the two almost back-to-back conventions were a lot of work, a big expense (especially for travel, lodging, and food), and a long haul for the summer season. It was staff hours that could be devoted to getting product finished, especially if you wanted to have something out at GenCon! So once Green Ronin stopped going to Origins, so did I. The company eventually brought back a smaller presence to the con, but this year will be my first at Origins in several years now.

Naturally, I’m looking forward to walking familiar ground again, not just the halls of the convention center itself, but also the streets of Columbus, including the boutiques and galleries of the Short North and sampling the foods of the North Market. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the convention (and the city) have changed in the years I’ve been away. Origins always struck me very much as a con where people came to play games and to spend time with friends both new and old. While that’s true of most game conventions, it has always seemed particularly true for Origins, and I’m looking forward to renewing our acquaintance. If you happen to be at the con yourself this week, why not find me at one of my events and say hello?