Minnesota: The Land of 100,000 Lakes. It’s a fairly large state with two densely populated regions–the Twin Cities and the Duluth area. It is, however, the Midwest, and it’s not the busiest of Midwestern states. Really, it isn’t known for much beyond perhaps being the birthplace of the artist formerly known as Prince, and the setting of the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show. When you think of hotspots in America for gaming culture, the first states you might of are California, New York, Texas, perhaps. Maybe even Illinois. But not Minnesota.
Well, Minnesota has a wide array of gamers. More and more, even the small towns out on the fringes of civilization develop close-knit packs of teens and young adults who share gaming in common. But, how does one go about finding other gamers in this little slice of the Midwest?
The secret, my friends, is in extremely plain view: Go to a convention.
How does that help you? The biggest gaming conventions are in California and Massachussets, not Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota doesn’t even have a gaming convention. It does, however, boast two rapidly growing conventions that tend to attract gamers: CONvergence and Anime Detour.
Both of these conventions are held in the Doubletree in Bloomington, Minnesota, right off of 494 and 100, on 77th / Industrial Blvd. The anime convention is usually held in Spring, landing on March 30 – April 1 this year, and the sci-fi convention is often held over the 4th of July weekend, this year just following it, beginning July 5th and ending on the 8th.
So in what way do these two conventions facilitate gamers? How in the world is one supposed to pick out a gamer from a crowd of Trekkies and Bleach fanatics? Try any number of these tactics:
- Find Cosplayers
Cosplayers are people who dress up in costumes representing a character in a movie, show, cartoon, video game, or… possibly even box esof delectable chocolate-covered snack sticks from Japan. Video game cosplay is far from rare at both Anime Detour and CONvergence. If you can’t pick out at least one Dante from the Devil May Cry series at either convention, something has gone terribly wrong. Once you find someone cosplaying from one of your favorite games, go talk to them. Chances are, if you play your cards right, you might have a new buddy to add on Xbox Live, PSN, Steam, etc.
- Look for the Room Parties
Room parties are not rare. Often times, average patrons at these conventions will fire up their HP color inkjet printers from 1997 and print off some streaky advertisements for a room party, complete with hours of operation, activity, and location. Here, there is a difference between Anime Detour and CONvergence. CONvergence is, essentially, one big convention of room parties. Around the perimeter of the pool in the Doubletree, long-time congoers will elaborately decorate their rooms for a four day, bass-thumping, booze-pouring party. Have your IDs ready!
- Consult the Convention Book/Pamphlet for Panels
Some people would say that panels are the bread and meat of conventions. Well… Some people are right! The idea of sitting around in a big room, asking random people sitting at the head of the room questions might seem boring at first, but rest assured, almost every single panel regarding a topic you’re interested in, will engage you. There are normally video game related panels at both conventions.
- Find the Gaming Room
What is this mystical place, you ask? Why, it’s a room full of computers and televisions and zombie-like patrons, gazing in to the cool, pale glow of the games that amuse them. While gaming rooms aren’t the only place to find games, it’s a great place to start. If you can pry someone away from their game for a moment, or sit beside them to challenge them or work cooperatively with them, you might soon have yourself a very beautiful friendship.
Well, that’s about it. If you’re a gamer in Minnesota, definitely consider going to one of those conventions. Especially if you can’t make it to either of the two Penny Arcade Expos, or E3. We’ll see you there.