Critical Role, the Future of Games and more–C2E2 Day 2 Game Retrospective

C2E2 2020, Saturday @ McCormick Place Update: A previous version of this article mistakenly listed Shail Mehta's project incorrectly. It has been changed to Gameboard-1--and you can find information on their Kickstarter page and website. Day two of C2E2 is a wrap! Saturday is usually the busiest day, and this year was no different. The floor was PACKED and if you wanted to get into a specific panel, you had need to wait a long time to ensure your place. Saturday was also packed with lots of video game content, from speed runs, tournaments, to Dungeons & Dragons and some great game focused panels. Of course, the biggest of all was the first, and everyone who got to C2E2 on Saturday morning wanted to see Critical Role. Critical Role at C2E2 2020. Photo: C2E2 Official Facebook Page Critical Role has reached critical mass. That group of voice actors has done a phenomenal job bringing their Dungeons and Dragons sessions to their masses of adoring fans, and has led to many of them taking on the tabletop roleplaying hobby themselves. Now, I haven't seen that much of Critical Role, but I can tell you that they definitely made it possible for my current tabletop roleplaying group. Critical Role certainly played a major part in making the tabletop game a regular thing--and something that even got my hardcore video game playing, anti-RP friends taking on a role, and rolling some dice. I can certainly understand why their fans adore them. Each of the 'cast' are extremely charming, witty, and some of the most wholesomely inclusive people I've ever encountered. Fans would approach with extremely personal stories, and the folks of Critical Role did a fantastic job making them feel welcome. Inclusivity is definitely something we need more of, and the folks of Critical Role embodies the very best of us. They can also play a mean game of Dungeons & Dragons. The panel was done mostly in a question and answer format, and there were a ton of inside jokes that flew right over my head. But I do know Dungeons & Dragons, and Matt Mercer's abilities as DM are legendary--as I'm sure you know. When asked what world he would like to dive his stories into, Gygax's original land of Greyhawk was floated, but Mercer ultimately decided he'd want to poke around in Planescape, because of the possibilities it holds. Since Critical Role has become such a job, one great question involved what these roleplayers do for escapism, especially since Critical Role has become a professional production. But each and every person agreed that their Thursday sessions are sacred, and are definitely still an escape for them. It's a time where they can put aside all the stress of the world, and play a game with their friends. I wasn't a fan before, but I think I'ma fan now, and I'm excited for the backlog I can dive into. C2E2 2020, Saturday @ McCormick Place. Photo: Marielle Bokor Of course, C2E2 has all of those amazing arcades, tabletop games, and other video games just out of the floor to play. Saturday was PACKED, so if you were there, you might not have gotten the chance to get to the game you wanted to try. Sunday is usually a little less packed, so it's the perfect day to walk the floor, and try out all of the games available, and even participate in tournaments. Abdallah Smash @ C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor YouTube personality Abdallah Smash hosted a Nintendo meet-up, and he was surprisingly great. He essentially ran an hour-long trivia session that covered many aspects of Nintendo, with correct guesses getting you a chance to win Nintendo-related swag. I didn't win, but I did spend an hour with a content creator who was great to his young fans, and wields an obvious mastery and expertise with a variety of Nintendo games. It was a great time, and you can check out his content here. Gorgeous Ladies of Gaming @ C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor The last video game related panel of the day--and the last one of the con--was the "Gorgeous Ladies of Gaming" panel. Three professionals from three different game specialties convened to give their insight into their corner of the industry, and what the future of video games are. Monte Cook Games' Darcy Ross, Suger Gamers' Keisha Howard, and Shail Mehta--involved with the Gameboard-1 tabletop system that recently had a successful Kickstarter. They all provided some great insight into their perspective into contemporary games. When asked what a gamer way, Sugar Gamers' Howard suggested that we are all gamers--and that we play to learn, and that is something that can be exploited to makes our lives better. C2E2 2020, Saturday @ McCormick Place. Phoot: Marielle Bokor Games are the future, period. Darcy Ross made an excellent point of the stigma of gameplay going away. She said that gamers can "be more out, and feel comfortable with that." And feeling comfortable is an important theme, especially when it comes to the conversation around inclusivity. "The future is queer, non-binary, and international" according to Darcy Ross. And when you wield powerful social platforms like to organize and share ideas with other like-minded game designers, the boundaries of video games will be pushed. C2E2 2020, Saturday. Photo: Marielle Bokor There's only one day of C2E2 left, and while there doesn't seem to be much in the way of game related panels, it would be a great day to get out on the floor to play some games, and maybe even get into whole new ways to play with tabletop games, and lots of board games.    
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.