Midwest GameFest rolls the dice on an online weekend escape
Know what’s fun? Board games and conventions.Know what is really hard to do in a world menaced by the shadow of COVID-19? Play board games or going to conventions. It presents a predicament. One that KC is working to solve.
Midwest GameFest is a four-day tabletop convention, featuring hobby games, board games, exhibitors, panels, and workshops. Unlike Comic-Con, which is all about joining with other fans of your hobby and admiring awesome things, Midwest GameFest is designed around the focal point of meeting new people and playing games.
Hosted by the Role-players Guild of Kansas City, this event has a heavy emphasis on role-playing games and hobby games. In the pre-COVID-19 world, it was a great place to meet new friends and dive deep into interesting games with them. You could sign up, grab your badge, and jump into hours-long games with people you hardly knew and enter worlds of fantasy, adventure, and strategy.
Rather than allow this incredible experience to disappear, RPGKC Castellan (or vice president) Brad Kelley set about partnering with a variety of people and organizations, to make an online event possible, and to capture the fun of the convention in a way that would still allow people to game and make new friends. By partnering with Tabletop Game & Hobby (set to open a brand-new board game café called Cardboard Cafe in the new year) and Meeple-a-thon, a charity which uses 24-hour games as a vehicle to raise money for charities, they have found a way to create an online convention that is sure to impress.
Last year, the event took place in the Stony Creek Hotel in Independence. This year, it will be on the online streaming platform Discord. Event-goers can purchase an all-weekend badge at the Midwest GameFest website for $5 and start signing up for events. The events will then be run using a variety of online gaming systems, including Tabletopia, roll20, Tabletop Simulator, and more, depending on the game. Audio conversation during the games will be available by joining a room on the server, so participants can chat with their friends and rivals.
Streammaster and Tech Wizard, Laura Croston, who has been responsible for making this a reality, says that one of the biggest hurdles to getting this up and running is not just building the infrastructure to run it, but making sure the Game Masters and players still get the convention feel. To this end, she and a small army of volunteers will be on hand to help with the technical aspects, and have gone to extraordinary lengths to make the experience as streamlined as possible.
Finally, a convention wouldn’t be complete without a few awesome presentations! Midwest GameFest’s miniatures master Andi Dieckman will be doing a painting workshop, KC’s own Clearly Guilty will be doing a live music show, and Josiah Martindale will be running a charity stream of “A Christmas Carol: D&D Style”.
The event runs from now through Sunday. Registration is at MidwestGameFest.org.