GameStorm: Where play is the convention

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



If you go

• What: GameStorm, a convention for people interested in board, card, role-playing and other games.

• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

• When: Runs continuously through Sunday, March 23.

• Cost: $60 at the doors for the full three days, single day pass costs vary.

• Information:

Anna Holiday may want to demolish Jason Bostick in a few rounds of "Dungeons & Dragons" after reading this.

Bostick, an organizer of GameStorm, the annual board and card game convention at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, has been repeatedly scolded for calling Holiday a name she dislikes.

"We've been doing GameStorm for 16 years, and we have people who have grown up in the convention circuit," Bostick said of the 22-year-old Holiday. "We call them 'con babies.'"

With that, he paused for a minute.

"Wait," Bostick said. "You're not going to print that, are you? She'll kill me."

And so it begins.

Holiday, who lives in Vancouver, started going to GameStorm and other conventions in the area when she was 6 years old. Her parents were fans of 'Dungeons & Dragons' style role-playing games, and they'd bring her along to events they attended.

She had fun, but gaming wasn't really her thing back then, she said.

"When I was 6 years old my biggest interest in going to conventions was to help people out," said Holiday, who's now GameStorm's volunteer coordinator. "I'd just go and ask people if they needed help setting things up or whatever. But then over time I started branching out and looking at what was at the convention beyond hospitality."

At 14, she started joining in and playing several role playing games like Serenity and Disk World, and she was hooked.

"I found that there were people that were really actually interested in playing games with me," Holiday said. "For me, I'm a closet socialite. I'm very shy, but I like interacting with people. Gaming is great because you can interact without being great at communicating. It gives you a subject to talk about while you play."

A few years later, and she joined the GameStorm staff, where she's helped Bostick and others organize the event.

"The community is very friendly," she said. "We're always looking for more players."

Holiday will be able to pick from several new games this year if she wants to up the ante on her revenge quest against Bostick.

Last year there was a giant version of the puzzle-block game "Jenga," which will be back, and this year organizers are adding another oversized game called "Ricochet Robot," Bostick said.

"Your robot only runs in straight lines to a specific target," Bostick said. "The board is 22 feet by 22 feet, and live people will be playing the robots. It's really huge."

Game companies and fans also like to unveil new games at the event, which tends to be mostly focused on board and card games, so there will be lots of interesting new things to investigate, he said.

The convention also has a LAN room for computer gamers and a console room for Xbox, PS3 and other gamers.

And there's also some unusual entertainment.

"We're bringing back two musical groups this year," Bostick said. "The Double Clicks and the PDX Broadsides. The Broadsides, they're sort of nerd-based sea chanties and things like that. The Double Clicks, they're basically nerd-based folk."

There will also be a screening of the film "Gamers 3," an indie about the adventures of a group of gamers made by a Seattle organization.

The event runs continuously without evening breaks through Sunday, and it seems to get bigger each year, Bostick said.

"We're expecting 1,300 people this year — that's 20 percent bigger than last year," he said. "We just keep adding things and taking over more and more of the Hilton."

Holiday paused to think about being asked what game she might like to play against Bostick at GameStorm.

"The problem is he's better at a lot of the games than I am," Holiday said. "But I think I'd probably be better at giant 'Jenga.' We could try that."