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Published: Monday, 3/1/2004

Convention draws 700 to UT campus

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wayne Ward of Pontiac, Mich., plays Fairy Meat yesterday during the 19th annual BASHCon convention, a three-day gaming event held in the University of Toledo s Student Union. Mr. Ward won the game, which uses mushrooms as the terrain. Wayne Ward of Pontiac, Mich., plays Fairy Meat yesterday during the 19th annual BASHCon convention, a three-day gaming event held in the University of Toledo s Student Union. Mr. Ward won the game, which uses mushrooms as the terrain.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

Joe Guild stands up intently each time he takes a turn in this strategy game, carefully calculating his next move on the make-believe island of Catan.

He must decide how to expand his ever-growing dynasty, being perpetually aware of the presence of a robber who could gobble up his possessions at any moment.

For hours yesterday, Mr. Guild used vacation time from his manufacturing job to spend the afternoon in an imaginary world, trying his hand at a roundtable with three other players in the game, The Settlers of Catan.

“It s just a chance to get out and have some fun with other people,” said Mr. Guild, 37, of Maumee.

Mr. Guild was one of about 700 people who showed up at the University of Toledo over the weekend to take part in the 19th annual BASHCon convention, a three-day gaming event sponsored by the student group, UT-BASH.

BASHCon allows participants to gather together to play cards, battle each other using their own personally built miniature armies, and even do traditional, fantasy role playing.

Anime and gaming movies also were shown, and a costume contest, which spotlighted some period dress, attracted nearly two dozen entries.

New this year was the addition of an entire room in which participants could test their skills on electronic games, like the popular Xbox. Players, most of them teenage boys, filled the room and waited to compete in games displayed on computer monitors.

Doug Friess, president of UT-BASH, said organizers didn t hesitate when deciding to add the electronic age to the event, despite the presence of the more traditional games.

“It was basically a Yes, let s go for it, ” Mr. Friess said. “At this point now, if we see a new game, we go with it.”

And as with anything, he said the fads of the day become tradition in the gaming world.

Take Dungeons & Dragons, for example.

First popular back in the 1980s, the game still had a large presence among players at UT s event.

In fact, it was the reason many of them were even there.

Daniel Rose, 29, of Toledo said he spends much of his time traveling to gaming competitions, including national games that can attract up to 30,000 people at a time.

Mr. Rose was drawn into the gaming world 15 years ago with friends who introduced him to Dungeons & Dragons.

He said the role-playing game still is one of his favorites, and he admitted yesterday he enjoys its darker side, such as “hacking and slashing” other players.

Other players at yesterday s event, namely Dan Imm, 33, of Maumee, enjoy the escapism the games offer.

“You can go into different places without going anywhere,” Mr. Imm said during a break from a strategy game.

Said a friend, Cory Tucholski, 26: “You can play in the past and the present.”

Gamers range in age from children to people in their 70s and 80s who have been attending the competitions for decades.

Mr. Friess said interest in gaming dropped off a bit after the 80s, but he said there was a resurgence several years ago. UT-BASH also has grown to 100 from 20 members, he said.


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