Among the extremely long lines, celebrities, merchandise and studio announcements there is a quiet, almost overlooked aspect of San Diego Comic-Con: the gaming rooms. When I first went to SDCC some years ago, I didn’t even know where this area was. While the Mezzanine is on the map, it’s a bit tucked away and not very obvious. It attracts not only gamers, but those who want to get away from the crushing crowd of 120,000 attendees and have a more reliable Internet connection.
Cooler, quieter and often with a view of Society of Creative Anachronism members battling in armor, it is something of an oasis for me. A place where Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragon games share the same room in peace. There is a muffled library feel to this level, which seems odd to me, since gaming rooms in local game stores are not calming balms of near silence. This is despite the doors to each game room being wide open and welcoming to all, while games are being played. There are a number of scheduled events and rotating games throughout each day of the convention. Yet many people who are drawn to the rooms find themselves in pick-up games that happen at any open table available.
The convention floor proper has games as well. Many of the game companies are represented here as well as the illustrators area being filled with well known RPG artists such as Todd Lockwood and Donato Giancola. The Chessex booth is enormous. There aren’t a whole lot of reveals of new games on the convention floor, since those tend to be saved for GenCon, which happens just a few weeks after San Diego Comic Con. Yet, it’s perfect for discovering already released games you weren’t familiar with before.
One such discovery this time was when an employee of Atlas Games called out to my group. By “my group” my ten-year-old daughter and a friend’s daughter that I was shepherding through the floor looking for the Sailor Moon paper tiara giveaways. We were gestured over to a small high table that was empty and free of crowds. Open space! There we were introduced to a card game called “Fairytale Gloom” where the point of the game is to have the lowest number of points and the worst Brothers Grimm ending you could manage for your characters. The ten-year-olds took to it right away, targeting me and the Atlas Games employee with good fortune. I prevailed and managed to kill my character off in glorious Grimm style, winning the game.
I think the girls would have liked to stay and play several more games, but there were others who were starting to gather for a turn. In fact, the empty table we encountered seemed to be an anomaly, since every other company had full tables for their game demos. Despite games and game companies taking second place when it comes to video games and the rest of the chaos of San Diego Comic Con, they are still going strong. So while attendees may have to wait for GenCon for new announcements, there is still plenty of gaming to be had at this convention.