Gamers Unite

You’ve read all about gamers. Where can you find them? At any one of a number of conferences that have popped up over the years. These conferences are sponsored by media or developers, and some of the earliest were started by gamers themselves, looking for a weekend getaway to do nothing but game. Whichever type you choose, you are sure to participate in the excitement and camaraderie of a marathon session of Counter-Strike: Source ending at three in the morning … and THAT is good.

Camelot Roundtable [Mythic Entertainment]
With multiple stops each year, Mythic Entertainment tries to keep their fan convention accessible to their fans, wherever they may be. Convention events include costume contests, discussion panels with game developers, and a healthy dose of meeting and greeting with other players from around the globe. For those fans not up for a full convention, there are also near-monthly gatherings at smaller venues with less scheduled events.

Million Man LAN [LANWAR Group]
On a continual mission to hold the largest LAN party in the world, the Million Man LAN gets a little bit closer to its name every year. For four solid days (that’s 78 consecutive hours!) more than 1000 gamers will bring their PCs together and do battle in official and unofficial tournaments. In its fourth year, the Million Man LAN is a celebration of friendly, competitive gaming.

PAX [Penny Arcade]
Debuting in 2004, the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) proved to be a bigger success than anyone could have anticipated. Registration lines stretched for three city blocks as the attendee projections were exceeded by 60%. If the first wasn’t impressive enough, PAX 2005 looks to surpass its predecessor in every way, with an impressive list of sponsors and events already announced. Well on the way towards becoming “the consumer E3”, PAX combines traditional convention mainstays, like panels and exhibition booths, with the atmosphere and camaraderie of LAN parties. Open play console and PC halls give gamers the freedom to meet on common ground, while a dense schedule of competitive events ensure there’s something for everyone. Unlike most conventions, PAX also keeps “gamer hours”, with the doors open and events running until 2:00 AM.

QuakeCon [QuakeCon Organization]
Held every year, QuakeCon bills itself as “4 Days of Peace, Love, and Rockets”. Part LAN party, part tournament, and part convention, attendees compete with one another in both organized and ad-hoc tournaments. Though heavily sponsored by id Software, QuakeCon also has a wide range of hardware sponsors demonstrating and unveiling their high-end gaming products for the selective, performance-conscious market in attendance.

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Origins [Game Manufacturers Association]
Going on 31 years, Origins is one of the original gaming conventions focusing primarily on Table Top and Pen and Paper games. As the generations grow, video games are growing more prevalent at Origins, similar to GenCon’s progression. Origins provides tournaments, events, clubs and organizations, miniatures, LARPs, card games and table top games. Origins’ central location of Ohio provides the opportunity for many who cannot attend a conference on the west coast to have a piece of the fun.

GenCon [GenCon LLC]
Although most strongly associated with tabletop and miniatures gaming, GenCon has had an increasing amount of video game presence in recent years. With a well-established reputation as a convention for gamers, the GenCon events are quickly becoming a focus for game developers looking to interact directly with their audience. In addition to the expected exhibitors and panels, GenCon attendees have a wide variety of tournaments available, as well as one of the greatest showings of sci-fi and fantasy art in existence. GenCon holds two major events a year, one in Indianapolis and one in Southern California.

BlizzCon [Blizzard Entertainment]
First announced in June 2005, BlizzCon is a fan convention centered around all Blizzard products. Although World of Warcraft will surely be the primary focus, a playable multiplayer version of StarCraft:Ghost is scheduled to make an appearance, and Blizzard is known to be partial to surprise announcements. Additional scheduled events include Q&A panels with both the World of Warcraft and StarCraft:Ghost developers, the BlizzCon Invitational tournament, surprise contests, and a special Blizzard Art Gallery.

Turbine Nation [Turbine Entertainment]
Originally known as the Asheron’s Call Player Luncheon (ACPL), Turbine Nation got its new name in 2004 with the addition of Middle Earth Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online to the event portfolio. First starting in 2001 as a fan-organized gathering focused on the original Asheron’s Call, the ACPL earned a reputation for being a very comfortable and personable atmosphere. Although there is no date set for the 2005 edition, with an expansion pack for each Asheron’s Call title released in the last six months there’s little doubt that there will be something happening this year.

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