Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod
Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod
For most people in Wisconsin, November 23 was opening day of hunting season. For area geeks, however, it was the weekend of Daisho Con.
Daisho Con is anime and geek convention held the third weekend in November since 2008. It was originally held at the Ramada in Stevens Point, but moved to the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells when the Ramada closed down in 2011.
Daisho Con is a three day event featuring video games, tabletop games, and panels on a variety of topics. Daisho Con also invites special guests every year. This year guests included voice actors Cherami Leigh and J. Michael Tatum, and comedian Nathan Barnatt. This year, Daisho Con also broke their attendance records, reaching over 2000 attendees for the first time.
Many of those attendees were regulars, like Megg Flick. She’s been going to Daisho Con since 2009, even skipping classes to make sure she gets there in time for opening ceremonies. She prepares for Daisho several months in advance by deciding on and sewing her cosplays, usually rushing in the last few days to complete them in time.
“My favorite part of the con is always the costumes, for me,” said Flick. She also enjoys the artist’s room, where con-goers can relax and work on art projects, and artist’s alley, where artists set up booths and sell their own work.
Morgan Zwick has also been a regular, attending since the first Daisho Con in 2008. Daisho Con introduced her to anime and, more importantly for her, introduced her to raves.
“The raves have become an awesome release and escape for reality. It’s a place I can go and think about bills, or homework, or dealing with a pain in the ass job,” said Zwick. She also enjoys the fact the con never stops and at any time during the weekend, she can find something to do.
Ryan Beaudoin has only attended Daisho Con for the last two years but he already has a routine.
“It didn’t take much for me to prepare because after my first Daisho Con, I learned to pack light. Though I did check the website and review the con schedule ahead of time to get an idea of what events and panels I wanted to go to,” Beaudoin said.
His favorite part of Daisho Con is shopping in the tabletop gaming room and vendor room. This year, he spent almost $150. His favorite moment this year, however, is when he stayed up late one night and found himself in a three hour discussion about “Lord of the Rings”, anime, and “Star Wars”.
Even though Daisho Con is over and out of sight, that doesn’t mean that it’s out of mind. The staff continues to meet every Monday night and is already planning Daisho Con 2014.
Type “geek sexism” into Google. Go on.
You will get 771,000 results. That’s 771,000 stories about women who, when they mention a favorite comic book or sci-fi series to someone, are quizzed to ensure they are “genuine”. These are stories of women who are sexually harassed, accused of pretending to be a geek to seduce geek boys, are called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ for wearing a skimpy cosplay because they enjoy wearing it. Ironically, that cosplay will mostly likely have been designed by a man. Even in the 21st century, women are harassed and told they don’t belong.
But does this happen in a small town like Stevens Point? According to the geek girls living here…yes and no.
Alissandra Marik has her own stories, both good and bad. She had bounced around several video game stores in the area, trying to decide whether she wanted an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.
“Every person told me that both systems were too advanced for me and that maybe Wii was more my system,” Marik said.
She also had an issue when she played Halo multi-player for the first time. She made her character female, not thinking it would be a problem. But she was immediately harassed by male players, who told her to “go back into the kitchen and make them a sandwich” and killed her character so many times, the game system thought she had left and banned her from earning credits.
“When I came to college, it all of a sudden became okay to be a nerd.”
But not all her stories are bad. The first time Marik and a friend, also female, went into Gaming Generations here in Point, she said it was one of the best experiences. The employee offered suggestions for games that he thought they would enjoy and were within their budgets. He even gave them several discounts when they went to check-out
“I recommend Gaming Generations for both males and females for all your gaming needs. They treat you like an equal and want to make your gaming experience the best that they can,” Marik said.
For Tara Buehler, starting school in Stevens Point help her appreciate her nerdy side, rather than hide it. She used to hide her nerd side in High School and would read her manga in secret. She was also a Pokemon fan but would keep her love for it between her brother and cousins. Then she came to college.
Megg Flick has also had pretty good experiences being a female nerd. Her first year going to Daisho Con, at the time held here in Stevens Point, she had worked for months on a cosplay of the Legend of Zelda character Sheik. It was one of her first cosplays and while far from perfect, people still recognized her and wanted her picture.
“I ended up having a blast anyways, because people were very nice to me and were willing to give me pointers on ways I could improve my cosplay,” Flick said.
So while Stevens Point isn’t free from problems that can plaque female nerds, it seems as if the area is mostly tolerant and welcoming. Perhaps, given time and awareness, other geek and nerd cultures will be as willing to acknowledge females.
It wasn’t Cinderella that ran away at the stroke of midnight on October 29th but about thirty people who had pre-ordered the game Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.
GameStop held a pre-release party for the fourth installment of the series, staying open much later than their regular hours and even offering Cracker Jacks to those waiting inside. People began trickling in as early as 10 pm, waiting around and admiring the other games on display and playing in store demos to pass the time while they waited.
Josh Bailey, one of the first people to arrive, has been really waiting for this game much longer. He pre-ordered it “a few months ago” and had been looking forward to Black Flag for a very simple reason. “Edward Kenway is the first blond assassin you can actually play as, and then with the DLC for it, the first black assassin you get to play.”
The series is well-known for allowing players to explore the world and go off on adventures at their leisure or follow the game’s plot when they want to. Bailey has prepared himself for this by planning epic all-nighter fueled by pots of coffee.
“I’m probably going to have to play it twice. Like, almost guaranteed, at least twice. Once with the Captain Morgan outfit and pistols and the Black Pearl looking ship and go be a pirate and shoot everything, kick down doors and, you know. Be a pirate. And then I was actually going to play it as the assassin. Not sure which order I’m going to do that in.”
By 11 pm, the few stragglers grew into a group of twenty. The energy in the air continued to grow as everybody intermingled, chatting excitedly. One of these people was Maggie Vogt, who despite needing to wait for her broken Xbox to be fixed, still couldn’t wait to receive her copy of the game. Unlike Bailey’s all-nighter, she plans on taking her time and devoting an entire weekend to the game.
Vogt appreciates the series beyond their freeform gameplay. “It’s kinda the mix of history, because all the main characters you assassinate are in the same place they actually died. So I don’t know, I guess that mix of history and gaming.”
At 11:45 pm, the GameStop employees ran a raffle, with nearly everyone receiving an Assassin’s Creed prize of some sort, including posters, flags, and shirts. The late hour didn’t seem to bother anyone and the energy continued to grow until at last, midnight arrived and games were handed out. The crowd disappeared almost instantly and the night was over.
While Cinderella needed to wait for her Prince to find her for her happily ever after, the people who pre-ordered Assassin’s Creed needed only to wait to get home for theirs.
Your Wednesday evenings need be boring no more!
Every Wednesday, the Gamers Alliance of Stevens Point meets from seven to nine in the Dreyfus Unversity Center. Games of every type and genre can be found here, from strategy games to Magic: The Gathering to party games. People can come and go as they please and play the club’s games or bring their own.
“It’s kinda nice to be in charge of something if you care about it.”
The club’s simplicity is what GASP president Christian Beck likes most. “We meet every Wednesday, just to hang and play board games. It’s very free-form, people can do whatever.”
Beck took over the club when the former President graduated last year. He orders board games when the club gets their yearly budget and makes everyone feel invited. It’s an easy job for someone who loves board games as much as him.
“It’s kinda nice to be in charge of something if you care about it.”
When I visited October 16th, it was indeed very relaxed. A pile of board games sat off to the side and the club of thirty plus people were spread across the room in small clusters. When a game ended, they would split up, grab a new game, and find new people to play. Some came early and stayed the entire time, some left early to study, some came in mid-meeting after a late class.
In one corner, a group of about ten were playing the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. They’re regulars that come and stay every week. Their campaign is three weeks old and they still hang onto the every word of the Dungeon Master as he describes their current adventure in full detail. Even Tim Urbaniak continues to enjoy the game, even if his dice rolls have been so bad he’s earned the nickname Fail Druid.
“More often than not, he crit missed and hurt the team,” John Martin, a friend of Urbaniak, was more than eager to share. Martin then proceeded to laugh about a previous week when his own character had several misadventures involving booze and women in a bar.
On the other side of the room, four people were playing Magic: The Gathering. They were very relaxed, discussing rules and just enjoying the time away from school. Periodically, they swapped partners and kept going for several hours.
Cristal Lugo, one of the Magic players, also enjoys the relaxed atmosphere. Her reasons for coming along are simple: she likes board games and has nothing to do on Wednesday nights. She tagged along with friends a year earlier and has been coming along since.
Other games making appearances were the classic Chess, the horror game Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and Life parody Redneck Life. When a game of Cards Against Humanity came up late in the night, nearly all of the remaining people put away their own games and joined in for a group session. A game similar to Apples to Apples but with cards that would leave most people shocked and are inappropriate for a family-friendly blog to mention, it left the players in tears with laughter.
If you’d like to visit for yourself, GASP meets every Wednesday in the Legacy Room in the Dreyfus University Center from seven to eleven.
If you’ve ever read any of the Harry Potter books, Quidditch needs no explanation. It is a sport created by JK Rowling for her fictional world of wizards and magic. In recent years however, it’s been growing increasingly un-fictional. Across the world, teams have formed boasting a modified, ground-based version of the popular wizard game. As of this year, UWSP can add itself to the growing list of schools with a Quidditch team of its own. I recently got to sit down with the founders Jeanette Colombe and Samantha Mocadlo.
Bradley Rabbie, a Communications major at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point has found a new hobby: filming his friends playing horror video games and screaming in terror.
Rabbie began as an Art major, with the hope of getting into comic books and graphic novels. When he wasn’t accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, he decided to add a Communications-Media Studies major and study film production. He had been filming as a hobby for years previously and found he liked it. While his original videos “had no real content”, he began helping out local nerd groups, such as Daisho Con and Belegarth. This allowed him to gain practice and experience and get his name out.
“God it was horrifying!”
Within the last year, he’s decided to add a Let’s Play channel to his schedule. Let’s Play is a video genre that involves playing a video game and recording commentary and reactions to the game-play. Rabbie’s upcoming Let’s Play channel, “Creepy Open Face Gaming”, will feature a large variety of video games across all genres played by several of his friends with distinctive personalities. The first to be filmed, however, are referred to as “Chelshocked”.
“We take one of my most frightful friends and throw her in a dark room with some of the scariest video games we can muster,” Rabbie explained.
“Chelshocked” stars Chelsea Cameron, an International Studies major in Stevens Point. She is notorious among her friends for being easily scared and having a large reaction to even minor frights. So far, she’s already played “Outlast” and “Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs”.
Rabbie approached Cameron about the Let’s Play project after watching her do a similar project called “A Night to Remember” at Daisho Con in November of 2012. Despite being terrified by the video games, she had a blast and eagerly signed on to Rabbie’s project. In September, they filmed the first video and livestreamed it on the internet.
“God it was horrifying,” Cameron said. “We played Outlast, which is the worst game on the planet it terms of ‘how scary can you get?’.”
You might be seeing a lot more medieval clothing this semester at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
The campus group, Falcon’s Gate, is hoping to increase their visibility this semester and attract more members to their group. Falcon’s Gate is part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a world-wide organization devoted to the recreation of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including fighting styles and crafting of the time period. The SCA boasts over 30,000 members world-wide, a feat that Falcon’s Gate is having trouble replicating.
As of now, they have approximately eight members from campus and the community regularly attending Thursday Arts and Science meetings and ten attending Monday night Fighter’s Practice. The Falcon’s Gate officers hope that by increasing the group’s campus exposure, they’ll attract new members that may have not even known they existed.
“We’re bringing more attention to our club through outdoor practices as well as being involved in the Involvement Fair,” said Vice-President Shelly Sonsalla. At this semester’s Involvement Fair, they armored up one of their regular fighters and allowed attendees to swing at him with a rattan sword to give them a feel of fighting in the SCA. Other plans include attending class in garb on Thursdays, hosting a public masquerade in spring, and hosting fighter’s practices outside.
One new member the group has attracted is Quinn Fellenz. She learned of Falcon’s Gate from a Martin Wissmueller, a member of the parent group, Falcon’s Keep, at her cousin’s going away party. Fellenz had heard of the SCA before, having been to one event as a child. She also was already interested in many activities, including making chainmail. When Wissmueller told her that was the first meeting of the year, she decided to tag along.
“It’s interesting. I definitely want to stick around. I love that there is so much you can learn that you think would be lost,” Fellenz said.
The reasoning behind this search for new members is simple, according to a very enthusiastic Sonsalla. “Everyone should have the experience of learning pre-17th century arts and sciences. Because it’s fun!”