A suburban Pennsylvania Holiday Inn will host princesses, dragons and role-playing in the Star Wars galaxy this weekend. More than 100 gamers have pre-registered for Philly’s first “Nerdvemberfest.”
There are lots of caricatures of people who love role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons — that they spend hours or days in someone’s basement, hiding from the real world.
Convention organizer Matthew Aaron said that portrayal ignores how the games bring people together. He said the beauty and the challenge of the role-playing games is that you have to find other people to participate. “It’s not something that one can do on their own,” Aaron said. “It’s not like a video game where you sit down and you have a story interacting with you right there on the screen. The story comes from the other people and depending upon who you’re playing with, that story changes dramatically.”
Aaron calls gaming “the slightly competitive equivalent of family dinner.” He said it’s those direct interactions with other people that make it so exciting, but also a challenge — you have to get a group together.
Many video gamers enjoy playing against friends and family remotely. But for Aaron, just the idea of getting in the same room makes him smile because it forces non-virtual interaction. “When you sit down to play a tabletop game like Dungeons and Dragons or a board game, you are directly interacting with other people telling stories together,” he said.
At least this weekend, he’s in luck. “Many of the games like Dungeons and Dragons you have a very clear black and white kind of world. There’s the evil wizard who’s kidnapped the fair princess and you are a party of brave adventurers who like Frodo and Gimley are adventuring off to go and rescue her from evil. And with all the craziness that’s in our world today where everything seems so gray and undefined, it’s very exciting to be part of.”
Aaron hopes this will be the first annual Nerdvemberfest and that in future years it will be even bigger with multiple days and vendors. This year, he’s keeping it small and free.