Plattecon Sigma

by Lori Ann Curley

Plattecon was started in the Spring of 1988 by the Platteville Gaming Association (PGA), the student gaming group of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW-P), at the time headed by a young advisor from the Engineering Department named Dr. Rex Joyner. The World's Greatest Husband (WGH) and I met while we were both students at UW-P. The fall semester of 1987 was his last and my first.

For the WGH and I, attending Plattecon is more than just going to a gaming convention; it's a stroll down memory lane with friends we haven't seen sometimes in years. This year the PGA moved Plattecon to the new Student Center on campus, which had seriously upgraded facilities that the computer gamers most certainly could appreciate. Although the convention seemed desperate for events, according to the plea on the website a few weeks prior, the 70 or so events listed in the program offered choices for all kinds: RPGs, board games, anime, CCGs, etc.

This year, the WGH and I went mainly to relax from the stress of buying a new house. While he reminisced with friends from college, I checked out the dealer's room. The selection of multicolored dice bags next to the selection of multicolored pleather whips and studded collars intrigued me. The tables full of the standard fare of games didn't help me until I picked up a slightly damaged copy of Chez Goth to make my Chez collection complete. I also bought better and color-coordinated boxes to hold my copies of Chez Goth (black, of course), Chez Grunt (drab olive), and Chez Greek (bright orange because the yellow was so bright it hurt my photosensitive eyes).

I wanted to play a board game called Haunting House because the description read, "Fun and easy board game," just the way I like it; but the GM didn't show up after I waited 15 minutes, so I went to the nice and quiet Alumni Lounge to catch up on my writing. Well, it was quiet except on the hour when a large bell rang (a bell is one of the symbols of UW-P). I didn't realize the WGH was looking for me until I later walked the RPG room and saw him playing Capes, a strange-looking superhero game involving quotes.

After dinner at the China Buffet (and can you have a more generic name than that?), I decided to try my hand, er feet, in the Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) tournament while the WGH and our friends played a card game called Cthulhu 500.

Although I had heard of DDR and even suggested it to Dork Losers, the weight loss group for gamers that I started on Yahoo! Groups, I never watched anyone play it before. When the Anime room at Plattecon Sigma offered a DDR tournament, I felt my golden opportunity.

The setup is simple: instead of a handheld conroller, the gamer uses a pad a little larger than a yard square divided into nine squares with "buttons" at the top for 'select' and 'start' that are perfect for tapping with the toes. Although the eight ordinal points are represented with the central square seeming neutral, in all the games I watched only the top, bottom, left and right squares were used. The music seemed varied and represented IMHO, the best and worst of bubble gum pop. The graphics seemed to be an updated version of 70s disco lighted floors.

One does not normally think of coordinated choreographed dance moves when one thinks of gamers, but seeing hard core console gamers dancing side by side to the moves directed on DDR made me think of quality jazz, ballet, or at least synchronized swimming. Fleece jackets and flannel shirts were peeled away from jeans-clad gamers as they progressed through the levels.

The funniest part was watching two gamers synchronized in their moves as if they had been practicing together for ages for a Broadway show. These gamers could have put the late Gregory Hines to shame with some of their moves, but I doubt any of them could do the moves in tap shoes; socks are required for DDR.

Needless to say, I didn't win the tournament. I was one of two people there playing on the "beginner" level.

Of course, no gaming convention is complete without the diversity discussion. No I'm not talking about cultural diversity in gaming; I'm talking about gamer diversity: RPG gamers vs. CCG gamers, board gamers vs. LARPers, anime fans vs. Furries. Once we get to the furries, though, most of my friends from college agree that we just don't understand the attraction and leave it at that. [No offense to furries intended.]

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