RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on May 14th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under Autism and Gaming Convention, CCAG, CORGS


Pic from CCAG's official website, http://www.ccagshow.com/index.php

If you've never been to a video game convention, I can't recommend it enough.  My Beloved and I have been attending a few on an annual basis for about fifteen years, and every time has been exciting and fun.  It is more than coming across some great collection finds; over the years we have forged great friendships, shared fascinating stories, competed (poorly) in competitive tournaments, seen some great cosplay, realized we weren't alone in our passion for gaming, and overall had great experiences unique to every year.  Now, my family has finally decided to plunge into the other side and give back.




The two primary conventions we attend every year are CORGS (Columbus Ohio Retro Gaming Society) and CCAG (Cleveland's Classic Console and Arcade Gaming Show).  There are a few others somewhat nearby our home, but these two have been our staples for years as our free time and budget doesn't allow for much more (although that will soon change, more on that later.) 

Of the two, we've attended CCAG longer and therefore we've grown a bit closer to several friendly faces.  While the vendors change at least a bit every time, there are mainstays that get lots of smiles and hugs on a yearly basis.  At this point we're swapping stories about kids and work alongside cartridges and systems.  While my Beloved and I have always treated these conventions as a sort of date weekend, now the aforementioned kiddos are wanting in on the action.  Within a year or two, it looks like at least one of these cons will finally be a family affair.

Speaking of adding numbers, another family of friends we 'conned' (rimshot) into going to CCAG and CORGS are now also annual attenders to the same conventions.  After getting together for years, our two families realized we could provide a service we wanted and had not yet seen; a table with TVs, simple tools, and cleaning supplies set up so fellow gamers could test out the goodies around the convention.  Wondering if that NES toaster has the blinkies?  Plug 'er in, grab a working cart and find out.  Worried that controller may drift?  Our table will have a stock of complete retro systems ready to test them.  Not sure if the flaky signal is the AV cord or something in the system?  We'll have some common extra cords to test.  Need some alcohol (for the cartridge contacts, not the person) to clean up an old game and make sure it plays?  At the table, along with q-tips, pencil erasers, and other common tools-of-the-trade.  Want to prove to me that Ocarina of Time is better than Link to the Past?  Wrong table buddy, you need the one with the other crazy people.

We intend to offer everything for free, and our friendly CCAG organizers are donating the table space so we won't be out of pocket.  If anything, not being able to devote the entire day to shopping at the vendor tables will save us a ton!  It is great just to be able to be there and give back to the community we've grown to appreciate and enjoy.  This summer will be our trial run at CCAG, so any feedback or suggestions in the comments is greatly welcomed.

But that's just the warm-up to the "big" project.  If you've read my scribblings occasionally posted here at RFG, you know I have a couple kiddos on the Autism spectrum.  Well, after lots of thoughts, prayers, pre-planning, chatting with support staff, and no shortage of craziness, we are going to try to put together an annual Autism and Gaming Convention in Erie, PA.  It will be split into two sections, one with normal vendor tables and play areas, and another section with restrictions on lights, noise, and other environmental over-stimulation.  The intent is that those with autism and their families will have an event catered to them and their interests; video games, board games, puzzles, movies, etc. while offering understanding and support for the unique challenges of those 'on the spectrum.'  We intend to have lots of quiet space for those who need it or just to take a break (conventions can be a bit much even for neurotypicals.)

If all goes well (and I'm sure we'll make a ton of mistakes) we will have a convention for families who often feel a bit isolated and separated, and they will be welcomed and their needs appreciated.  Often the biggest barrier to social connection is simply a lack of understanding, and the hope is that this convention will connect folks who have a common link of autism or family members with autism.  It is important to realize the convention is not just for someone with autism; for example, our own neurotypical son needs connections with peers who's lives are also changed by autism.  Social support is second only to education when it comes to coping with autism, and it is vital for folks to connect with others who have some level of familiar struggles.

We are shooting for the first quarter of next year, so while we still have some time to get everything together I have no doubt that time will fly faster than we expect.  If any of you have experience or suggestions with this sort of thing, please feel free to give any input, and if you are around the Erie PA area and want to help, that would be fantastic! 

Of course we always promote RFG at every convention we attend and our own will be no different.  As I have always said, this site is the shining example of what a healthy online community should be.  If we can at all replicate that at our own convention, I'd consider it a success.

Smiley


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Comments
 
As an uncle of several kids "on the spectrum" you should know that this is much needed, and much appreciated. I look forward to the inevitable follow-up article about how it went, so it could serve as a pilot for other such efforts. Wink
 
I really need to try to make it out to the Cleveland Classic. I've been to CORGS once a few years back, and enjoyed it.

I'll be looking for more info about the Autism convention. I've got a good friend who's son loves games and is Autistic, and I'm sure this would be very interesting to them.
 
Love what you are doing here both with the testing stations and with the possibility of the Autism convention.  The latter is very dear to my heart as well. My wife's cousin is very low on the spectrum and my next door neighbor has an 18 year-old son with autism who our family has grown really close to in the past year (and I actually got him to participate in our site Secret Santa last year).  He comes over every other week to play video games with us and we jokingly call him our "4th kid;" he's such a great guy and my kids adore him.

Please get in touch with me via PM to maybe discuss how I, or maybe even the site, can help. I would also like to send you an order of business cards for the site to pass out at your table. Best of luck!
 
Thanks, guys.  Autism really does seem to effect most folks I know one way or the other, and our family has been very blessed with good support and a loving community, so it is the least we can do to share the help and heart.


 
These are some awesome things you're doing. I hope they work out well and look forward to hearing about them.

Also, I didn't know you attended CCAG! I've gone to several of those over the years as it's right in my hometown. You'll have to drop me a line sometime soon. It'd be great to meet up in person. I'd also be more than willing to volunteer some time to help out with your testing table!
 
Can't wait to hear more about the Autism and gaming convention. What a fantastic idea!

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