I Play Games (IPG) is an organization we’ve become familiar with at video game events around the city, from Bitbash to C2E2 and even out in Milwaukee for the Midwest Gaming Classic. They provide fantastic setups that allow for great gaming experiences at all of their events, whether they’re on the indie circuit, breaking out the old consoles for retro gaming fans, or setting up convention-long tournament brackets for everything from Rocket League to Street Fighter and more.
They’ve got an infectious enthusiasm for games, and a strong desire to help allow everyone in the Chicago area to get together and have a blast playing, competitively and casually, that’s really caught our attention. IPG’s founder, Kevin Fair, wears many hats during these events, from MC and tournament oversight to event planning and involvement in the Chicago Video Gamer’s Club, a Facebook group meant to help gamers connect, chat and hang out. In talking to Fair at events around town (from cons we’ve bumped into him at to Bitbash pop-ups and more) it’s clear he’s got a passion for games and a desire to help people connect with others who love them just as much, and that’s something we here at Third Coast Review think is important too.
We recently packed up our Switches and hit up the Chicago Video Gamer’s Club’s Splatoon 2 meetup, co-hosted by Fair and his colleague Jerelly Rose, who acted as organizer, marketer and promoter for the event at Emporium Arcade Bar. Splatoon 2, which we reviewed when it released, is a perennial favorite of the Games & Tech team, combining the fantastic colorful worlds Nintendo always manages to create with a dash of fashion and tons of frenetic shooter action that still manages to be kid-friendly. Because of its popularity, Splatoon 2 quickly started gaining ground in the world of E-sports, with tournaments popping up all over. The Emporium meetup we attended featured a few of Chicago’s best teams battling it out in 2v2 and 4v4 formats, with a bonus wave of Splatoon fans signing up for more casual contests.
The meetup we were at could have used a bit more space, but as the night went on and people grabbed a few beers, little clusters of Switch setups emerged, and people began mingling and getting into the action. There was a definite feeling of inclusivity and welcoming despite the rather casual setup, and I ended up in several conversations with fellow Splatoon nerds about cool gear, accessories and tournaments they’d been in.
It wasn’t all Splatoon-oriented though, as the main screen eventually got used for some pickup games of Mario Kart 8, and various other cells of Switch owners whipped out their own favorites, handed out a Joy-Con and started things of their own accord. It was dark, it was loud, but people seemed to make do just fine, and we were thrilled to see everyone really seeming to have a good time. Lucky for us, and for you–this isn’t the only time you’ll be able to hang with the Chicago Video Gamer’s Club and get into the game. If you’re interested in hanging out with people who love games as much as you (and we) do, sign up to join their group on Facebook, and get your feet wet in the social gaming scene by hitting up their next event or joining in the conversations about everything from classic cartridges and consoles to new releases and hardware. You might just see us there.