For five days in June, thousands of people descend on the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio. Their goal: to play games and hang out with like-minded individuals. The event bring them all together? Origins Game Fair.
Origins began in Maryland in 1975. Over the years, the locations of the convention changed until 1996, when it made Columbus Ohio its permanent home. The convention grows steady each year, and in 2018, it hit a record high with 18,648 participants.
Origins feels like the unofficial start to the new year of board games. Companies bring their latest games to demo and play test. They usually have limited supply, but build anticipation for GenCon, the largest game convention held in August. The buzz also carries companies through the holiday season.
Origins also ends to the previous year in gaming. The Origin Awards honor the best games that came out the previous year. Awards are presented by categories, including best role-playing game, Best card game and best board game. Below is a full list of 2018 winners.
For attendees, there is plenty of activities over the five-day convention. Participants can register for hundreds of events ranging from board games, lectures and role-playing campaigns. Vendors have their own rooms or areas where individuals can play the latest game or old favorites. Some vendors provide free games, lunch or others benefits for players.
Free games are easy to find at Origins. Take a survey and receive a free game. Attend The Origin Awards, and grab a game after the show. Check out a game from the board game room, and there is a chance to win one to take home.
Origins compliments is admission badge with a ribbon program. For an additional fee, you have access to extra content. One example is the board game room, which provides a library of hundreds of games. Check one out by providing your identification. Don’t have enough people to play the game? Grab a large orange cone to signify that you are looking for more players. It is a smart way to give even the most introverted gamers a chance to play with new people. Other ribbons include access to computer gaming room, padded weapon events, and Origins After Dark, geared towards attendees 18 and older.
For those who want to channel their inner-artist, Origins has a miniatures Paint n Take area. With your badge, you receive a miniature. Tables stocked with paints and brushes provide experts and first-timers a chance to design their character. Experts answer any questions that arise.
The culture of gaming and those who play is prevalent throughout. In the Origins Library, participants can meet authors and have items signed. The artist gallery offers competitions and exhibitors. For those that want to learn more on a specific topic, Origins University talks on various tracks, including author, artist and game design. There is a costume contest and Origins even has its own film festival over the course of the weekend.
Origin attendees realize that while life is not a game, a weekend of gaming make life more entertaining.
Origin Award Winners
The awards recognize game released over a year span ending November 15th the previous year. Each category is voted on by a jury of professionals and fans, with two separate awards presented for each category. The 2018 winners include:
Best Board Game: Gloomhaven (Jury and Fans)
Best Card Game: Ex Libris (Jury) & Hero Realms (Fans)
Best Family Game: Azul (Jury and Fans)
Best Miniatures Game: Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition (Jury and Fans)
Best Roleplaying Game: Adventures in Middle Earth Player’s Handbook (Jury) & Starfinder (Fans)
Best Roleplaying Supplement: Dungeons & Dragons Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (Jury and Fans)