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synDCon 2011

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I’ve wondered what a Washington, DC gaming convention would be like.  I decided to check out synDCon II this weekend, “Wasington, DC Area’s Premier Gaming Convention!”  Considering I can’t even name a second gaming convention, this one gets that title by default.  I expected a pretty low key event, but low key would be giving this convention too much credit.

The event took place in Rockville, Maryland at the Hilton and ran from April 1 to 3.  The convention was billed as “April Gaming Fools.”  I was the fool for going, and would of been better off spending the time going to my local comic shop.  I spent more time traveling to the convention, than actually at the convention itself.

Three days of normal gaming is more of a better description as to what I witnessed.  A corridor of a beautiful hotel which permeated “gamer stench” along it’s ways.  The convention, brought together by Gamers’ Syndicate, reminded me more of the local game conventions I witnessed in Buffalo and Rochester.  The last of those I went to over a decade ago were better organized with more offerings and events.  They were also put together by college students and their gaming groups.

Most of the rooms lay empty while I was there, except one, which I believe was filled with individuals playing D&D.  I didn’t see any pick up games of Magic or really any other games and the panels seemed to be limited.

While I was there I saw about 50 individuals playing various games and a dealer room consisting of six tables, of which were only two or three real stores.  The gaming itself was sparse, mostly D&D, some Magic, some open board games and lots Living Forgotten Realms.  Each day had about 3 seminars (most big conventions have three seminars running at a time).  This was definitely not worth the cost, especially the $20 for one day.

There were about a dozen tournaments, mostly were Magic.  The game choice as a whole was pretty poor.  I’ll have to say though, the people were fairly friendly, though typical “gamers.”

What’s disappointing is the abundance of riches in the Washington, DC area.  SPX and Magfest both draw hundreds of individuals, great guests and have so much going on, you can’t catch it all.  There’s also at least a couple dozen game, video game and comic book stores within 30 miles of the city.  this convention took place a bit outside of the city (which might be part of the problem).

Distance is a weird thing in DC.  Even though the location was metro accessible and you’re rarely 20 miles away from the destination you want to go to, travel can take hours (it was 30 to 45 minutes for me) depending on how you go.

Why isn’t there a major national convention for the geek industry in our nation’s capital?  There’s a thriving indie comic book scene and a major convention to that.  A great video game music fest, and attempts at a game convention.  I can’t but think that combining all of these events into one weekend would be a major draw.  Move them all downtown and you have a national (and maybe international) event that’ll draw big names.  But, until then, here’s looking forward to Gen Con, a real game convention.

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