A four-day gaming convention in Sydney has highlighted the rise of geek culture and the benefits of fantasy roleplaying.
The EYECON convention, which was held at St Scholastica’s College in Glebe over the Easter long weekend, featured roleplaying games (RPGs) across fantasy, science fiction, horror, and historical genres. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was the most popular game on offer, and some of the event’s 200 attendees played the fantasy RPG for all four days.
Despite early stigmas surrounding the hobby, D&D and other pen-and-paper RPGs have become more mainstream in recent years according to Grant Chapman, president of Sydney Roleplaying Games Association (SRGA).
“Pen-and-paper has always been one of those things that I think a lot of people have tried but don’t necessarily admit,” Mr Chapman told the Newsroom.
He thinks the popularity of computer games like World of Warcraft is one of the factors that has helped normalise pen-and-paper RPGs in the eyes of the community. “People play online games all the time now, there’s millions of people [who] play World of Warcraft… They still roleplay, they still are playing a character, just in a virtual world.”
Convention attendees said the enjoyment and escapism of RPGs are the main attractions to the hobby.
“You can bring joy and fun to someone’s day,” said Salvatore Conti, who has run the D&D adventure Die with Honour at conventions for almost 15 years. He told the Newsroom that RPGs offer players the “chance to be someone else, some new environment, some new adventures and/or life”.
“It can give them a release,” he said. “Consider it a pressure valve… a getaway from day-to-day.”
Grant Chapman believes RPGs can also benefit players in their everyday lives. “You develop your creative skills, you develop your imagination… A lot of the work I do, even in the IT industry, is a result of the innovative skills I’ve learned through roleplaying.”
The SRGA’s next convention will be SYDCON, on the October long weekend.
– Photo and article by Jake Nelson