Origins Game Fair 2015

Origins Game Fair 2015
Celebrating their 40th year, Origins Game Fair takes over the entirety of the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus. This year, Origins is boasting 15,938 attendees throughout a five day event. The only other Columbus, Ohio convention I have personally witnessed with a larger attendance than Origins is the Arnold Fitness Expo and Classic.

Filling eight football field size rooms with Magic the Gathering (presented by Star City Games), Warhammer 40K, various role playing games, several LARPS, and the most amazing dealer’s hall busting at the seams with so many games that the five days is not enough time to get to enjoy all of them. The games spill out into the hallway where Mayfair Games has a 5 foot by 5 foot Settlers of Catan board with basket ball sized fluffy dice and a 3 foot size idle. In addition to the building consisting the large rooms, Origins also encompassed the Hyatt Hotel side of the convention center where they placed the larger role-playing games. The Pathfinder Society controlled a ballroom size room and filled it with at least thirty tables. All were full of players for the majority of the convention. This building also housed the foam fighting groups and events.
In the same building, Origins branched out from their comfort zone and tried something new to its entertainment by inviting Wasabi Anime to add an anime track to the Origins line-up.
Wasabi Anime
wasabiWasabi Anime® (yes – it’s a registered trademark!) is a club turned production company that designs anime themed programming for pop culture conventions in North America.  

I had the honor of sitting down with Wasabi Anime’s Tom Croom (CEO) and Ken Nabbe (Operations Officer) the Saturday evening of the convention for an interview:
Q: How did you hear about Origins?
A: “We heard about Origins through GenCon and other various conventions we have worked.”
“In addition, we’d sent out a request on Twitter looking for new and different conventions that might benefit from Wasabi Anime. One of our followers suggested Origins. After hearing so much about them, we approached Origins.
Q:What got you into the anime entertainment line of business?
A: “It’s my hobby gone horrible wrong!” Claims Tom.
In the early 90’s, Tom had gotten into independent films. He saw “Ghost In the Shell” and started becoming somewhat interested in anime. During this time, he started dating someone who was REALLY into anime, and being a man trying to woo “this really hot girl”, he, in turn, started looking farther into it as well. He encouraged her to enter a cosplay contest and after she won, Tom had found himself back into the excitement of pop culture – something he first discovered as a teenager at Star Trek conventions.”
Throughout the years, Tom continued to assist in various conventions in Orlando. In 2001, Tom created “Wasabi Anime. He met Ken Nabbe at a time he was running his own convention, JACON. They quickly became friends and in 2007, they redubed “Wasabi Anime” to “Green Mustard”. Tom and Ken “started pretending it was a business in 2007”. It then turned into an actual corporation in 2010. However, both still had “day jobs” till 2013, when Tom finally turned Wasabi Anime into his full time thing. Ken, who is expecting his first child very soon, still has his “day job.
*** Just pointing out, for all you romantic geeks out there (I know I can’t be the only one), the “really hot girl” has been married to Tom for 8 years now. Which goes to prove that there really is romance in a geek lifestyle.
Q (part 1):What is your favorite part of doing this?
A: 1. Traveling! We’ve been to LA, Chicago, Tokyo, Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, and Tampa
2. Eating: Tom Croom says he is a serious foodie. He has been to 31 places from the Man Vs Food list because of Wasabi Anime.
3. Seeing and trying new things from the various geekdoms exhibited at the conventions worked to the fantastic sites they see on road trips. (They drove from Florida to Ohio and showed off some amazing photos of the sunrise over the mountains).
Q (part 2):Least favorite?
A: “Dealing with fans that perpetuate fandom stereotypes.”


Q:Other than Wasabi Anime, what other projects are you involved in?
A: Green Mustard Entertainment, Inc.
  • Conventions
    • Florida Anime Experience
    • Florida Comics Experience
    • PinUpalooza
    • WasabiCon
  • Event Design
    • Wasabi Anime
  • Other Business
    • Consulting
    • Talent For Cons (Booking Agency)
Q:What advice would you offer anyone getting involved with this business (or any business)?
Their gut reaction: “Don’t do it!”
A: “Do not go into this trying to create a business from the passion. Enjoy your passion and act professionally and let it take its own course.”
There are going to be critical failures in many endeavors. Make sure you keep your word and professional relationship.
“We have had several events that did not do well at all.”
Q:Upcoming Events:
– Gen Con
– Dragon Con
– WasabiCon
Star City Games
starcityJust as they brought in Wasabi Anime in the hopes to widen their attendance base, Origins brought in old favorites as well.
Every year, Star City Games takes over the entirety of one of those football field sized rooms specifically for Magic the Gathering. All five days of Origins, Star City Games hosted MtG tournaments of various formats. The most common being standard, but they also offer draft and modern. They bring with them artists whose work have graced the cards as well as those who do “altered cards”. Altered cards are those an artist either enhances or changes all together. In addition, they bring with them playmats, dice bags, and single cards that can either be purchased or traded for. One of the first things one sees as they enter the Start City room is this wall of singles. Tis a beautiful site for any novice MtG player and long time devoted MtG player.
Grant Wilson
grantAs well as their special guests invited to Origins each year, it is very common to see stars and celebrities running around JUST for the games. Rumor has it that Vin Diesel, Channing Tatum, and Robin Williams has been an attendee in years past for no other reason than to just play the games. Sean Austin (The Goonies and Lord Of The Rings) has been an invited special guest as well as attended on his own JUST to play the games.
Among the “famous people” who attend Origins each year is Grant Wilson. Grant Wilson is known mostly for his work on Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters. In 2012, Grant decided to leave the show for personal reasons and to pursue other things. Those things? They involve games. Grant is the vice president of Rather Dashing Games ( Which is what brings Grant to Origins year after year.
I had seen Grant at his booth and wandering the halls of the convention for several years, but was never brave enough to approach him. The fangirl in me was strong with this one and I was always worried I’d forget my words! However, this year, I made myself do it! Once I finally spoke to him, I found him to be a pretty awesome, very down to earth person. I requested an interview with him and he happily accepted.
Q:How has your life changed for the better since leaving Ghost Hunters?
A: “I have more time with my family. We were filming and investigating almost on a weekly basis for Ghost Hunters. Which meant a lot of time on the road and not very much for the other things important in my life. There is now a balance to my life. A mix of all the things I love rather than one thing overpowering all the rest.”
Q:What is the worse thing about leaving the show?
A: “The Twitter and Facebook comments from people saying they are going to stop watching Ghost Hunters all together due to my leaving the show. Hearing and reading this is actually more hurtful than flattering.”
Q:What are the rewards from game developing compared to ghost hunting?
A: “I have more time for my personal passions. I still do investigations, but now I can take my time and fully investigate without feeling rushed. I love gaming and conventions and meeting people. Ghost Hunting let me meet people, but nothing like I can at the gaming conventions. It also lets me have more time for my art (”
(…. I really enjoyed getting to meet and talk to Grant. I am kicking myself for not approaching him years ago. He is very much the sort of person I like to be friends with.)
The Gaming !!
krosmasterIt is impossible to review a gaming convention without mentioning a game or two. I sat down to try several games. Like I said, it was impossible to try them all. One of the games I got the chance to test out was Legendary: Aliens Addition (I loved this one) where everyone works as a team to send the alien out the airlock chamber. Of course I tried out several versions of Catan. A game that caught my attention the most was Krosmaster Arena by Japanime Games ( Krosmaster is a mix of a boardgame, miniatures’ game, and a collectable game based off the French anime. In the game, you face each other in a turn based combat. Krosmaster is played with figurines, 4 of which you get at the start, each figurine has its own appearance, unique stats and spells. The level and strength of your character in Wakfu or Dofus doesn’t dictate the limit of your efficacy. In Krosmaster Arena, your skills are all that matter!
What Do Attendees Say About Origins?
I walked around the convention asking various people in the hall about their experiences with Origins:


Q:Where did you hear about Origins?
Mike: “Friends“
Carl: “I heard about it in the JoyYou Maid cafe.“
Carrie: “My friends talked about it for years and I never made it to visit.“
Anonymous: “In 2001, my friends paid for my badge and talked me into going.“

Q:How many years have you attended Origins?

Mike: “6-8 times (maybe?)“
Carl: “This was my first year ever attending.“
Carrie: “This was my first year.“
Anonymous: “14 years“

Q:What is your favorite part of Origins?

Mike: “Catching up with friends“
Carl: “My favorite part was being able to see all the diversity of geekdom.“
Carrie: “I loved the free gaming tables. You could buy a game, sit down and play. I also liked the diversity in the dealers room.“
Anonymous: “The welcoming feeling for anyone and any fandom.“

Q:What games did you try/play while attending Origins?

Mike: “Tao of War“
Carl: “I played tanto cure while I was there. I was too busy to play anything else.“
Carrie: “I learned Krosmaster Arena, played a new game called Bad Beets which was awesome. I tried Bin Fa the game of War.“
Anonymous: “Krosmaster Arena, Tanto Cuore, Magic the Gathering“

Q:How would you describe Origins to someone who’s never attended?

Mike: “Mostly a gaming convention with a dose of Sci-Fi/Fantasy“
Carl: “Origins is a convention for all sorts of games like card games, figure games and live action games (LARPing).“
Carrie: “It’s like a market of games.“
Anonymous: “Five days of continuous, nondigital gaming.“

Q:Would you encourage them to attend with you the next year?

Mike: “Yes“
Carl: “Yeah people should totally go cause you’re guaranteed to find a game that interests you enough to try and play.“
Carrie: “Definitely.“
Anonymous: “If I could afford it, I’d pay for the first day for every geek who’s never been there just so they can get hooked and stay longer.“
In Closing
In the end, I left Origins Game Fair almost overdosed on the excitement only board games and late nights with friends will cause. It’s like this for me every year. Wanting it to last and last, but way too tired and worn out to keep going.
My advice for anyone planning to attend is to bring a water bottle, wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to make lots of friends!