Post by Justin Francoeur.
From April 8 – 10, 2016, the Ottawa Geek Market held it’s bi-annual festival at the Nepean Sportsplex in conjunction with the Capital Gaming Expo. The weekend saw two popular events filled with local gamers and fans of sci-fi, fantasy, anime, steampunk and horror congregate under one roof.
As far as modern “geek culture” is concerned, I enjoy the Marvel Comics films/NETFLIX shows, have sat in on a few sessions of Settlers of Catan and have been known to pick up a comic book or two. This event piqued my interest as this is it’s second year running and I’d heard nothing but positive things about last year’s event. I decided to check out last Saturday.
The ample Curling Arena at Nepean Sportsplex housed the Geek Market portion of the event – it was essentially a giant flea market with just about everything you could hope to find at a “geek-themed” assembly, i.e. comic books, action figures, customized t-shirts, cosplay accessories, Lego, artist booths, cosplayers to pose with, exhibitor booths and more than I can even remember.
The Gaming Expo occupied Rink 3 (and then some) and had large areas of free-play gaming as well as a few exhibition booths. At least seven large tables, that could easily seat a dozen or more players per table, were set up as board game free-play areas. The free-play area contained stacks of board games on tables/bookshelves. A Game Master was available to help you pick out a board game to suit your tastes, provide you with a quick overview of the rules or find a game that was looking for an extra player that you could join. I could’ve easily spent the entire day trying out new board games with other players.
The Role Playing Game (RPG) section was at full capacity (apparently the demand to play in an RPG game was so high that sign-up sheets were established weeks in advance) but Game Masters still managed to find ways to slide a late-comer into a game. If you were into more traditional games, there were tables set up for cribbage, spades and hearts multi-player tournaments. There was also a large video gaming presence – I recall seeing a large computer gaming area (about a dozen or so LCD monitors) and a large projector screen for players who wanted to play Guitar/Band Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, but I was so distracted playing old school SEGA games at Record Set Shed‘s exhibitor booth that I totally overlooked them.
All artists, cosplayers, exhibitors and vendors were extremely friendly and easy to chat with. As a whole package, it’s a very lively environment with something for everyone who’s into any aspect of “geek culture”. Yes, passion is a major theme here – everyone from the vendors and cosplayers to the volunteers who will happily help you find what you are looking for or just as easily chat with you about their favorite “geeky” interests.
The Gaming Expo was a really good time with no shortage of activities to partake in and an excellent ice breaker for gamers to meet OTHER gamers. Why not have as many people with a common interest convene in the same area? Brilliant. With this day and age of internet and online gaming, face-to-face contact is somewhat minimized. I grew up playing board games with my friends (because really, there were no other options) and I get the impression that the younger generation doesn’t get to experience this. I’d recommend bringing a few like-minded friends who are up for some board games if you ever decide to attend.