I think I’m officially a geek now.
Okay, I might be one regardless, but after spending a whole weekend at a Sci-Fi Gaming Convention, I certainly felt geek-ier.
When you’ve got photographic evidence of time spent with Captain Kirk, it’s probably obvious you’ve got a fondness for all things geek. (have I mentioned I’m a bit of a Trekkie?)
I may or may not have spent an entire afternoon at the Star Trek Experience in Vegas a few years ago. Sadly, it’s now closed, but I’m happy I got there before it did. Unlike the Back to the Future ride that I’m still crying about–which was at Universal for over 15 years, and I somehow missed it by a few days!! (*sigh*).
Anyway, Kirk and I chatted a bit and then he took me on a private tour of the Enterprise, which was really nice of him considering I’m not even his type (um, green?). He is quite the charmer, that’s for certain.
The best part of this photo? I actually look like the normal one in a picture for once. Yeah!!
So, clearly I’ve got a bit of geek background. But from what I’ve heard, you’re not *technically* a geek until you go to your first Sci-Fi Gaming Convention. Well, if you insist….
My good friend Al, who you’ve seen in many of my stories on here, is a quite the hardcore
geek gamer himself and some of his gaming buddies told him about TempleCon, a convention that takes place each year in Rhode Island. Since he was just starting to get into board game design, he thought this would be fun to check out. He asked if I’d like to come along (hello? Road trip!)
But–before I packed my bags, I decided I’d better check out the convention’s website, just to make sure it wasn’t anything ‘too weird’ (’cause as ya’ll know, I’m plenty weird enough). That’s when I learned Templecon is a ‘Geek Convention for Grown Ups’–a weekend chock-full of gaming, awesome costumes, live music and a Steampunk theme! The time-travel(ish) theme alone sold me. I was totally in.
Plus the idea of being completely outnumbered by guys for a whole weekend too didn’t sound all that bad either 😀
It also helped that we were smack-dab in the middle of the winter so the idea of going even a wee bit south was sorely tempting. Now I know Rhode Island ain’t no Florida, but just the idea of being able to ditch my ski jacket and long johns for a few days sounded too good to pass up. I was ready to get my geek on!
We happily left Ottawa in a snowstorm (and sub-zero temperatures) and when we arrived in Providence, Rhode Island–about 7 hours or so later– we were greeted with a balmy 10 C ( 50 F) and, even better: NO SNOW!
It felt like Florida to me. Hello Spring…
You know you’re in for a pretty exciting weekend when you’re greeted by these guys in the hotel lobby.
Don’t let their scary costumes fool you, these dudes were the biggest teddy bears around (shh! don’t tell them I said that). At first I thought the hotel was going a little overboard with the security, so I nervously showed them my hotel key and convention badge–which made them chuckle quite a bit. I ended up chatting with them a lot over the weekend, they were so much fun.
TempleCon, which began over a decade ago, is much bigger than we expected. Apparently it attracts over 3,000 people every year from all over the world! And they’ve got every game imaginable here including Magic, Dungeons & Dragons (and other role-playing games), Warhammer, strategic war games and a huge variety of board games, too.
After checking in, we went up to our rooms to drop off our bags. This is one of the signs we saw taped to the door in the elevator:
I dunno, but I think it might be wise of the General to stay in hiding and not come to this convention. It doesn’t bode well for him right now, I fear.
This convention is big business for this hotel (the Crowne Plaza– which is located in Warwick, just outside Providence) especially since it takes place in the middle of winter (low season)–Note: it’s changing this year from February to August, see the end of my post for link and more details.
So, the hotel goes all out for the event-goers, including a free hot chocolate bar in the lobby!!! This was turning out to be a dangerous weekend indeed.
I may or may not have skipped the hot chocolate part and dove right into the chocolate toppings. Because we all know what a
chocoholic rebel I am.
The hotel also has a fitness centre, a pool, a really funky library-themed bar and a fancy restaurant as well (all on-site). Somehow Al and I managed to get free breakfast coupons from the concierge, which got us a delicious sit-down (hot) breakfast in the morning. Sweet!
For some reason our server was a little afraid of Al. I think it may have been his shirt (but there may be other reasons).
Al was pretty keen to get started with some gaming. But first, a photo at the ‘grand entrance’:
He took a snap of me, too…just to prove I was here.
While Al got involved in a game right away, I meandered around the hotel checking out all the game rooms and chatting with several people who were milling about. Everyone here was really friendly and welcoming. Since many of the folks who were here are now regulars, they knew we were newbies.
The convention is spread all over the hotel (which is gigantic) so there’s lots to see and do. I did more socializing than gaming, not too surprisingly, since I am a bit of an amateur gamer. Although I’m getting into it more since Al now designs board games.
This was one of my favourite parts of the convention. It’s a craft sale that takes place in different rooms all along the first floor of the hotel.
Essentially each of the rooms have turned into shops for artisans to sell their wares. And, as an added bonus, the folks with these rooms don’t have to go far when it’s time for a nap (or a good night’s sleep), assuming they didn’t load their beds up with too much with all their products that they don’t have space to lie down.
We had fun chatting with many of the different artisans, all of whom were super nice.
This guy was a real hoot and quite eccentric. I felt like we were chatting with Jules Verne himself.
He showed us his assortment of steampunk themed glasses, which were pretty neat.
Not-so-modern technology was on display as well. This is one old record player! I had wondered if it did sell in the end, I forgot to check at the end of the weekend.
There were quite a few folks selling hand-made clothing and crafts here, too.
Even though we didn’t show up in costume (as it’s not required) there are lots of great steam punk/Renaissance-themed clothing here, should you come in a t-shirt and jeans but decide you want to be a steam punk princess for the weekend instead.
After a full day of roaming around and socializing (and gaming for Al), we decided to take a break and head into Providence (about a 10 minute drive) for a bite to eat.
We choose the Union Station Brewhouse as we figured it’d be a great spot to try some local beers. Not to mention it’s housed in an old train station, which was really neat. If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you may have noticed that I love pubs & restaurants that are in old historic buildings (such as Department stores or a Post office).
Al really loved the bread that came before our dinner. Maybe too much.
He ordered the pot pie, which is one of his favourite meals ever! This one was delicious, I might have stole a bite or two when he wasn’t looking.
I think they’re planning to use this picture of Al in their upcoming restaurant brochure.
After dinner, we walked around downtown for a while and checked out Federal Hill, a popular street in Providence which is chock full of restaurants. We stopped for coffee and dessert before heading back to Warwick.
They have an outdoor skating rink here in Downtown Providence, too, which is pretty cool.
Al enjoyed the break from the gaming (he gets headaches sometimes from concentrating too long), so he was ready to get back to the convention.
We spent the next morning (Sunday) gaming, but then we decided to start packing it in around noon as we had a 7-hour drive ahead of us. While it was only a brief getaway, we really enjoyed the convention and the warmer weather, too.
If you’re an avid gamer and live close to New England, you might really like TempleCon. You don’t have to commit to an entire weekend either as they have day passes, which will give you a taste of it before getting a full weekend pass. The convention has also moved dates this year from its usual early February time-slot to August (25th-28th).
I recently found out they now have a retro video game section as well, which I know I would have LOVED! But given that I used to be a video game addict (back in the 80s) it’s probably good that they didn’t have the arcade when we were there. I probably would have done more Pac-Man and a lot less socializing 😀
Thanks for getting geeky with me and have a great week everyone!