Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous welcomes gamers, industry leaders to town on Oct. 9-11
Next month, gamers from across the country come to Great Falls both to challenge one another in tabletop competitions, but also to hear from some of the local leaders in the industry at the 2015 Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous.
As mentioned above, the convention, set for Oct. 9-11 at the Townhouse Inn, will recognize some of the most successful local gaming entrepreneurs — led by Will Shick.
Shick is a Great Falls native who is also the marketing director for Privateer Press, publishers of the hugely popular Warmachine tabletop minis game. In 2011, he was placed in charge of developing and guiding the long term strategy of Privateer Press as a company and its current and future brands by working closely with each of the talented departments and people that make up the company.
Joining Shick as special guests include Josh and Trevor Hughes, founders of Add-a-Tudez Entertainment Company/Team Kaizen, the only video game development studio in Montana to be certified by Sony PlayStation.
Finally, the last featured guest, but certainly not the least, is BJ Allen-Prudden.
Prudden, a Helena native, is the cofounder of Nagu-Con, the growing Anime Convention based in the state capital. She’s also is a cosplayer herself and a cosplay representative for IGRE, a Montana-based development team that’s produced board games, role-playing games and cosplay events.
Robert Thompson, president of the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous, said he’s thrilled by this year’s lineup and the way they’ve been able to continue to expand it’s focus year after year.
“Last year we set out to expand two specific areas – boardgaming and war gaming, and cosplay,” he said. “Both succeeded very well, especially the cosplay. Our costume contest last year jumped to 30+ participants from the 8 the previous year. Interest remains high this year.”
Thompson said they’re expecting at least 300 people for this year’s convention, adding that they’ve had more people show up than they’ve expected every year since they started.
“Our first year, we expected maybe 100 people and got around 125,” he said. “Our next year we expected around 150 and we nearly broke 200. Last year we expected around 250 and nearly broke 300. This year, we are planning to break the 300 mark, for sure.”
So, what exactly happens at the GFGR? The convention is focused mostly on table-top gaming, along with parts of the weekend dedicated to art and costume contests.
Thompson said when it comes to wargaming, a particular type of table-top gaming, he said, “…we keep pushing Warhammer, Warmachine, Battletech, and other such minis games.”
Those games just so happen to be made by Privateer Press, the company Shick represents. Thompson added that Warmachine is, “a favorite game of former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, by the way.”
When it comes to his favorite aspect of the con, Thompson said it’s seeing friends old and new, some of whom he hasn’t seen for quite a long while.
“For me, GFGR is like a huge family reunion,” he said. “We have folks coming not just from Great Falls, Missoula, Helena, and Butte, but also from Arkansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, Saskatchewan, Washington, and more. The first GFGR in 2012, an old friend of mine I had not seen since 1989 flew in and he has been to every one so far.”
He said more than that, people who belong to the “geek” culture tend to stick together, even if they might not always agree on everything from time to time.
“Geeks of all sorts are a surprisingly close knit family,” Thompson said “We might argue in online forums over certain things, but in person we almost always put aside the differences in order to laugh, play games, compare costuming notes, and so on.”
Getting back to the guests of honor, Thompson said he’s amped to see all of them for different reasons.
“Well, Josh and Trevor have been big supporters of ours from day one and they’ve been to every GFGR so far, too. Josh, Trev and their mom Cyndi are loved by a great number of people and their presence at this year’s con brings an energy and excitement we couldn’t have without them.”
As for Prudden, Thompson said he’s excited to see what kind of costumes she brings, especially.
“BJ was here last year as a cosplayer and now she’s one of our guests of honor,” he said. “She is an excellent cosplayer and costumer and her fan base is growing in the region. We expect her presence will help our cosplay contest grow even bigger this year.”
Thompson added that while they were set to welcome Jason Beam as the artist guest of honor, he wasn’t able to do it due to his involvement running the Roadhouse Diner. Thompson said, however, that the Roadhouse Diner is one of the sponsors and that they will be doing the pre-party on the first day of the event.
Speaking of sponsors, Thompson said without them they’d never be able to run the convention at all.
“Our sponsors provide things like cash sponsorships that cover room costs (as the Roadhouse Grill is doing for our Before Party),” he said. “But they also provide donations of prizes and silent auction items. For a con of our size, we give out an extraordinary amount of prizes, and we could not do that without fantastic sponsors like Know Dice and Kelly’s Komix there in town or the game publishers that send us stuff. And working through Kelly’s Komix we get airtime on the radio with Star Radio, and Q106 will be doing a remote broadcast from GFGR on Saturday afternoon.”
Finally, Thompson said because Montana is such a sparsely populated state, people end up attending a lot of the same conventions together. He did say, though, that they all are stand on their own as each town that has a convention looks to separate itself from the others, too.
“Each con has its own focus. Their might be some crossover, but each has its own focus that makes it so Montana can support them all. Our focus is tabletop gaming, MisCon focuses on sci-fi/fantasy literature and film, NaguCon has anime as a focus, HelCon has horror films and literature, and AlternaCon is general fandom.”
At the same time, Thompson said the event promoters all work together, too.
“Justin Barba and his crew that put on MisCon in Missoula are great friends and supporters, for one,” he said. “When we run into a situation we’ve never encountered before, I almost always go to Justin for advice. We promote MisCon and they promote us, as well. NaguCon and HelCon in Helena are small cons like us. Their organizers are regular attendees at our event, and many of our ConCom members got their events. Magic City AlternaCon in Billings is new, but we have been in contact with them.”
While pre-registrations for the GFGR has ended, people can still register at the door for $20. Folks who are interested in signing up to participate in games can do so by clicking here.
Finally, for updates on all things related to the convention, check out the Facebook group for more info.