This weekend I happened to be in Finland and so was taken on a whirlwind tour of RopeCon, a convention all about Roleplaying Games, Board games, table top games, and general Geek Culture. This is not an area of Nerd-dom that I have often frequented, but I am certainly more than interested now.
Ropecon, the largest non-commercial roleplaying festival in Europe, takes place from 15th to 17th of May in Otaniemi, Espoo (Finland). The festival attracts over 3500 visitors interested in roleplaying, card games, miniatures, board games, LARPs. Ropecon is not only about playing or gaming, but the event also has a plethora of lectures and workshops with a wide variety of interesting topics. – RopeCon website
The atmosphere was very light and cheerful, which was a great relief as I had been worried that we would be encountering some hard-core gamers who would look down on an uninitiated novice such as myself. To my great relief the people were welcoming, enthusiastic, and eager to get new people involved.
There were plenty of stalls selling wild and wonderful items, not just your game paraphernalia, but your general geek equipment, too. I was able, with some effort, to resist most purchasing opportunities (mostly on the grounds that my suitcase would not have taken much, and there are probably laws against carrying wizards staffs or swords through airport security). The sales people were not the pushy sort I’ve encountered at some UK conventions and some would even direct me to rival stalls when they thought I might be more interested in something there.
Among the displays and showcases about the campus there was a blacksmith team, hammering out various and sundry items in broad daylight. This was more than enchanting and mesmerising and you could find yourself quickly lost in the action. A little down the way, there was the ‘Epic Rock-Paper-Scissors’ showdown that will probably go down in history. And then there were the figure painting tables where we could have spent hours and hours if there hadn’t been so much else to do and see.
There were lectures, talks and discussion groups to see. I only managed to get to one – on gender representation in games. It was a refreshing experience. I have attended similar discussion forums in the UK where things have gotten very heated and shouty, but here people were civil and kind. The soft, spongy microphone that travelled about the auditorium was also entertainment in and of itself.
The last thing we managed to see before heading home was the Unreality Choir who performed a series of Geeky songs and tunes, all acapella. There was Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Game of Thrones, and, of course, Doctor Who.
I spent some time in the middle of things looking at the games. Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering, and other more obscure titles were all represented. It has been something of an intimidating and daunting prospect for me in the past, but when you see people enjoying the games in such a fresh and joyful manner, it really makes it so much more attractive.
I am only sad that we did not get a chance to try the LARP-ing, which is something I have always wanted to give a go. But, all the same, I’ve never needed much of an excuse to dress up as a wizard and go around quoting Tolkien at people.
If nothing else, my experience at RopeCon gave me an appreciation for RPGs and table-top games that I had never really considered before. The atmosphere of the con was so friendly and open than I am now very much hoping that Helsinki wins its chance to be the venue for WorldCon in the near future.