Last week I happened to visit Kangasala Public Library and spotted an interesting poster – a local gaming event I hadn’t even heard of! Naturally I had to visit it and I’m really glad I did. Learn 2 Play Kangasala proved to be a great event with surprising amount of things going on.
The actual event took place during the weekend but I only had time to participate during Sunday. As it was local I decided to take my 7-year old son with me. Gentle guidance to great hobbies. You know the deal.
The mood at the Kangasala Art Centre (where the event was held) was warm and welcoming. Entering the building gave an immediate understanding about what was going on: there were half a dozen of old TVs with various consoles up and running in the lobby. It was like a trip down the memory lane since most of those games were from my youth! They even had a couple arcade games borrowed from the Finnish Museum of Gaming.
The official programme included Super Smash Bros and miniature game tournaments which were already being played while we arrived. There was also a few speakers and demo tables but the actual bomb for me and my son was the opportunity to try out Virtual Reality.
Since we were amongst the first visitors we had the pleasure or exploring the VR games without a rush. I totally fell in love with VR painting – it was so intuitive and beautiful that after few random tries my son began to write and draw with it. His vote however went to the game called The Lab. There were a number of minigames inside the lab but he just wanted to walk around the lab and pet the robotic dog.
There are times when customer service in these kind of events can be tired or unbothered but this time it was neither. Eero Lempiö who instructed us was one of the sincerest persons I have encountered in ages and definitely deserves this praise for his people skills.
After trying the virtual reality we spent some time watching the miniature tournaments and playing with the consoles. I would have hoped for more diversity for the available games, almost all of them were party games and though they were one of the best games, I would still have liked to find at least one platformer (there might have been such games but I didn’t find them).
Another clear hit for my son was a demo table for miniature gaming. After gaining the permission to move the miniatures around I think he would have spent hours on it. And it only had one cardboard structure with some additional scenery. This table was (presumably) hosted by the vendor of Sotakone Miniatures (link to Facebook). He too was really friendly and willing to help me to educate my son in the excellence of nerddom.
This conversation also lead me into the conclusion that in events like this there should always be an interesting gaming table with available miniatures for children. Since it would almost certainly entertain any kid for a while there is absolute no reason to not to have one. If and when people bring their kids to gaming events they will like to have a moment to catch their breath and talk to someone. And since screen time isn’t the best option in any case this one-of-a-kind opportunity would be treasured by the children and their parents.
Learn 2 Play Kangasala was the second time this event took place. It was really entertaining and I immediately regretted my busy weekend for not being able to participate the whole weekend. There is a real chance this turns into an annual event and I for one am rooting for it to happen. We need smaller events like this as well as the big conventions.
If you learn about a Local Gaming Event taking place, participate and spread the word. Their organisers deserve the attention and participation and the gaming community as a whole needs new actives as well as new hobbyists to thrive.