Arisia: A Teen’s Perspective

Image by Luke Maxwell

Last week I posted about my experience attending Arisia with my eighteen-year-old son. Here is his experience in his own words. It was fascinating to read the similarities and differences about our weekend. ~Rebecca Angel

I love attending conventions with my mom. We’ve gone to large ones like ConnectiCon, and smaller ones like GeneriCon. My favorite part of conventions is learning and playing games, and going to interesting and thought-provoking panels. This was my first time going to Arisia and I hope to go back next year!

Mom and I had a fairly uneventful drive to the hotel we were staying at (not the hotel hosting Arisia). Upon arrival, we just dropped off our stuff and headed out. We took a cab, and the driver was… different. He was an elderly man with a dirty sense of humor, and his jokes alone would have made me a little uncomfortable but the fact I was with my mom made it worse. Luckily the drive was short and we arrived at the convention.

Image By Luke Maxwell

I immediately fell in love with the hosting space, the high ceiling with plants draped along the walls looked simple yet beautiful. We easily found where to get our badges, and then looked at the schedule to find something to do. Arisia is on the smaller side for conventions, so the options for gaming were limited. Many role-playing games looked very fun, however, most ran for 3-5 hours, which was too long for us. Instead of doing an RPG, we decided to play an amusing board game called Moon Quake Escape. Between the kind people at the table and the charismatic demo guy, we had a good time.

After the game, we decided to go back to our hotel because it was getting late. Taking a second look at the hotel room, we noticed a few annoying things. What was advertised as a king size bed was actually just a full, the bathroom door wouldn’t click shut, the sink didn’t drain, and the roll-away cot they gave me was springs wrapped in cloth. So our hotel stay wasn’t optimal, but we didn’t come for that so it wasn’t a big deal.

Image By Luke Maxwell

Day two kicked off with us going to see the art show. The exhibitions were lovely! Two artists really stood out for me.

Sarah Clemens’ paintings of cats with dragons were stunning. They had such vivid colors, and the cats looked so realistically fluffy and cute I couldn’t resist buying a picture.

The other artist was Stephanie Law. Her watercolor paintings were out of this world. She had such incredible detail; it was hard to look at them all together because I wanted to stare at just one for hours. Her illustrations were mostly fantasy, with beautifully rendered fairies and dragons, but that wasn’t all. She has recently become interested in painting plants, insects, and other small objects very large to show the infinite detail. She is very interested in folk stories, and it really shows in the little elements like clothing and accessories. Mom and I were able to go to one of her panels, and it was really cool to hear about her journey through her career as an artist. She is so inspirational, although her vast variety of talents is a bit intimidating, ranging from painting, to dancing, to knitting, to having a degree in computer science.

Image By Rebecca Angel

We also attended a panel that talked about the similarities and differences of narrative in stories as well as RPGs. The moderator was fantastic; she allowed people enough time to talk about each topic, while keeping each discussion on topic and still moving along smoothly. The panelists had great insights about the importance of a “finish” to a book compared to an RPG campaign. We left the panel happily talking about the topic and the many great game recommendations.

In our downtime between panels, we decided to create a board game based off of a small video game I had made a few years back called Kittens of Doom. In the video game, you played as a pair of kittens in a new home and roamed around messing things up. Our board game followed that same principal. It was a simple game of walking around and placing room tiles, then rolling to try and create big messes in each room so that by the time the owner returned they would kick you out of the house (victory). There were additional things you could do to keep other players stuck in the house when the owner returned like putting a bow on them to make them so cute they wouldn’t get kicked out. We made a little prototype version out of spare paper we had around and it was pretty fun and quick to play.

We also went to a screening of Deadpool. I had already seen it but this was Mom’s first time, and she pretty much summed it up with: “It wasn’t amazing, but it was entertaining.” It was a fun way to close out day two.

Image By Luke Maxwell

On the third day, we decided to just spend the time and do an RPG. It. Was. Awesome!

The system was called Fate. It’s a very open-ended system, allowing players to do a lot of fun storytelling, and when encountering a challenge you would draw a number card from a deck to see whether you succeeded or failed. The story was about a group of WWI fighter pilots (although my character was the tag-along brother of one of the pilots) at the first winter Olympics in France. My character was an extremely extroverted photographer, and I enjoyed pulling other players along with me to get photo-shoots with famous athletes. The Game Master was fantastic. He had such an amazing and quick sense of humor; every interaction with a non-playing-character was hilarious (he also did great accents). The game lasted three hours but it felt like twenty minutes. And by the end all of us really felt like a group of long-term friends; everyone was so amiable and had a great sense of humor. That was one of the best gaming experiences of any kind I have ever had (and I love gaming).

Before we left, we decided to go to one last panel. This one was a ‘Gloom and Doom’ song competition. Contestants had to perform amusingly tragic songs while the audience members had to strain to maintain their composure. Anyone caught smiling or laughing was asked to leave for the duration of the song, and each contestant would get a point for each person asked to leave. The winning song almost made me burst out laughing (I didn’t, but it was close). It was about a woman who murdered her husband because he didn’t like her favorite cheese. We loved that concept for a singing competition, and I hope to see it again next year.

In the end, although I didn’t have as many options as I am used to at a larger convention, I had a wonderful time at Arisia!