UT BashCon marks 25 years of gamingWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
BashCon, the city’s largest annual gaming convention, celebrates its 25th anniversary at the UT Student Union, starting Feb. 19 and continuing all weekend. BashCon plays host to a wide variety of events with a focus on traditional table-top role playing games, board games, miniatures, computer games and panels with guest speakers.
“[We] just try and help bring the gaming community together for a few days, to share and enjoy it,” said BashCon coordinator Nicole Teare.
The event is offering a special deal for BashCon’s silver anniversary — attendees who pay $25 will receive a badge for admission and entry into all tournaments, as well as a commemorative six-sided die featuring the BashCon logo.
Teare’s experience with UT Bash — the student organization that runs BashCon each year — goes back to her freshman year at the university, when she worked at the registration desk. Four years later, she said that while the core of BashCon remains the same, it has seen a great deal of evolution in the time she has worked with it.
“In recent years, gaming has gotten a lot more mainstream, and that’s reflected in the higher attendance of our membership and at the convention. It seems we get a lot more who are just casual gamers than in the past,” Teare said.
Kerry Porter, one of the guest speakers at BashCon XXV, has been attending the event for many years as a fan.
She said that the influx of casual gamers can be witnessed in the event’s larger focus on video games.
“It’s progressed with gaming as a whole. It went from the whole classic, you know, ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ ‘Magic: The Gathering’ card set, to including the likes of the MMO’s (massive multiplayer online games) — ‘World of Warcraft,’ ‘RuneScape’ and others. So it’s really incorporated the digital age,” Porter said.
Porter said the smaller size of an event like BashCon makes it a more personal experience than larger events.
“Conventions like Gencon, or DragonCon or ComicCon are so big you really can get lost in it, and it’s hard to, as an individual, really get in touch with things,” Porter said. “With a smaller convention, you can sample games easier, you can see games easier. You can be a bystander or participant a lot easier.”
Local gaming stores will also be represented at the event. Darryl E. Dean, owner of The Game Room on Sylvania Avenue, said he has been involved in BashCon for 20 years, as a retailer and as a player.
One of the positive side effects of BashCon, Dean said, was that “you’re basically helping out the university, and it gets maybe even some of the kids that might even think about going to the university, it gives them a chance to see the place when you get there.
“And you get to meet all kinds of new people.”
And it is that interaction with fellow gamers — the chance to share the things they love with one another — that is the real attraction of the event, for both fans and organizers alike.
“The draw, at least for me, and I know for many other people, is friends. You get to go there and meet people who share in similar tastes and hobbies, and you get to, you know, test your skills with some of those hobbies,” Porter said.
“I just want everyone to come and have a good time,” Teare said. “We just really try to help bring gaming to the community and really encourage people to get together and just share their favorite games.”