The Complete First-Timers Guide To Origins Game Fair

Origins Game Fair is a huge event that comes to Columbus every year but somehow I feel like it flies under the radar amongst the local crowd. The biggest kept secret of Origins is that you don’t have to be a total game geek- or I mean… enthusiast? to enjoy Origins.

Origins Game Fair takes place at the Columbus Convention Center from June 12-16.

I’ve been to Origins a few times in the past but was a little too intimidated to really explore all of it. This year I’m doing so much more than just buying games! I called in my personal gaming experts (I use the term loosely) to help me nail down everything we need to know!

My dad has been going to Origins for over 20 years and my brother has been going since he was a wee-little Pokemon player in the early 2000s.

Before you purchase your tickets, or “badges” as they are referred to, you’ll want to nail down what you actually want to do. Here are a few options

  • In the Exhibit Hall you can play demos from the game designers and purchase games
  • You can sign up to play specific games or enter tournaments
  • There are comedy shows, concerts, and films you can attend
  • There is an anime area
  • You can get artistic with leather working workshops and painting
  • You can take classes as part of Origins University program
  • They also have special events such as laser tag, True Dungeon, and a sensory-friendly gaming room
  • Origins often falls during pride weekend so they have Gaymer Pride activities like meet ups and panel discussions throughout the fair.
  • There is so much more than just the few I’ve listed but hopefully, those will get you started. For the most basic outline of the schedule click here.

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    Ticketing

    Step 1: Your badge
    Everyone has to have a badge to access the events, you can purchase a one day, two day, or full show badge.

    Step 2: Ribbons
    Ribbons give you unlimited access to different types of events. For instance, you can buy a ribbon for the board game room allowing to play as many board games as you want, or you could buy a ribbon for the area of a certain company. They’ll give you access to all the games they’re showcasing or their products. You can also buy a ribbon for werewolf/deception which gives you access to all social deception games.

    Step 3: Pay to play games

    After you choose any ribbons if you want them, you’ll choose any particular events you want to pay for. This is where it can get complicated. Here is the master list of events.

    I suggest navigating the lists by categories. If you’re a newbie like me and not exactly sure what you’re looking for, I’d say pick a style of game you know you like- like board games or social deception games, and just choose a couple that sound interesting.

    You can also Google the individual game titles to read their descriptions. This part of the ticket process builds an itinerary for you because the events including the individual games you sign up to play are all scheduled for certain times on certain days. Social deception games are some of my favorites, you can find me playing Are You A Werewolf? at 8 p.m. on Wednesday!

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    On-Site Registration

    You can buy your badge and game registrations all on-site as well, but I recommend buying online due to the lines. You can always buy your badge first and then pay for your games once you get there and decide what you want to do.

    Parking and Transportation

    Origins Game Fair is hosted at the Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus. Here is the official parking guide for the convention center. If you didn’t already know, this is pride weekend as well so expect a lot of traffic and budget extra time for parking. One idea is to park farther away and then hop on one of the electric scooters to get down to the convention center! If you’re staying in a hotel, or even if you’re not, check out the free CBUS run by COTA. The CBUS runs along High St. and stops in front of the convention center. Again, it’s completely free!

    More tips from my experts

  • Some events can run for hours. Have you ever played monopoly with your family? Yeah, it’s like that on steroids. So budget your time wisely. Just because you think the game usually takes about an hour doesn’t mean it will. It’s not recommended you buy tickets for games back to back. Tournaments always run long because people are slow to get back from breaks and they are slow to tally points, etc.
  • If you don’t quite know what you want to do, pick up the event booklet when you arrive at Origins and flip through until you find something that sounds interesting. The book is easier to look through than the online documents.
  • If you know what you’re looking for you can find great bargains for things in the exhibitor hall, especially if you shop on Sunday because vendors don’t want to pack things up. But there is a chance they could sell out before Sunday rolls around.
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    Follow us on Instagram @ColumbusNavigator to see what games I play and what games I bought! Also check back in next week to catch my full recap!