A group of self-proclaimed nerds defied the long-standing stereotype of being solitary creatures when they met for what could turn into a new Prince George tradition.
The Prince George Mini-Con was a two-day affair that brought together the city's most enthusiastic role play gamers.
The gaming convention took over Grama's Inn Oct. 15 and 16, offering full days with nine role-play games (RPG), a boardgaming room and live-action role play (LARP).
Montreal native Matthew Amsel was one of the key organizers of the event, the second of which to be held in the city. The first was a smaller gathering held earlier this March.
"I was fairly aware there were a number of gamers in town but there was no real interconnection between them," Amsel said. "It seemed this was the best way of getting people together."
At any given point over the weekend, the basement of the motel could be found packed with at least 30 players of all ages engaged in worlds created and navigated by game masters. The gamers participated in campaigns, some three hours long, that took them through the fantasy landscape of Dungeons and Dragons, to the more modern-day horror of Call of Cthulhu, to the intergalactic scope of Star Frontiers.
One of the draws to the event was the opportunity for gamers to let their nerd flag fly.
"We don't stop being nerds just because we grow up," Amsel said. "You don't stop liking doing something. You just have to find people your own age to do it with." Amsel, an analyst with Northern Health has been playing RPGs since he was in Grade 4.
"We know it's an inherently silly exercise, but we do it anyway," Amsel said.
Bill Norman said he preferred role-play games to video games, because of the lack of the invisible wall. Without the arbitrary boundary set out by the game programmer, the players are able to inhabit their characters and have them do almost anything their imagination can devise.
Shawn Churchman was serving as a game master for a generic universal role play system - known as GURPS - which he devised to navigate a post-apocalyptic Prince George.
"In high school a friend offered to show me a game I'd never played before," Churchman said. That game was Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and from then on, he was hooked and continues to play because of the enjoyment he gets out of it.
"If the game's not fun, it doesn't get played," Churchman said.
And having fun is the driving force behind the continued success of RPGs.
"I don't know where the stereotype of [role-play gamers] as anti-social shut-ins started," Amsel said.
Churchman agreed, saying most don't live in their parent's basement, but are married and have families of their own.
"You do it to socialize and grow your social circle," Churchman said.
Since the the first spring event, Amsel said people have had more of an opportunity to meet and play on a regular or semi-regular basis. He said based on the success of this past weekend and whether they can break even, they'll look to expand the convention for next spring, with more simultaneous games.