Are you a fan of Role Playing Games? How about Live Action Role play? Have you ever found yourself wanting to play that new table-top game you’ve discovered, but not had enough players to round out the game and actually make it fun? Well, have you ever thought about how awesome it would be to have hundreds (if not thousands) of like-minded gamers in the same space at the same time, gathered together with the single purpose of playing every game imaginable until the point of physical exhaustion sets in, so you all have to pass out and wake up to do it again the next day? We’re talking about a gaming convention, for gamers by gamers. We’re talking about DREAMATION.

For those of us in the gaming community, it sounds like a dream come true, and in reality DREAMATION is just that. Traditionally held annually every February in Morristown, NJ, nearly every year since 1995, DREAMATION gives gamers three and a half days of solid, social gaming with friends both old and new. Whether you’re into ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’Steampunk or even ‘Warhammer 40K’, DREAMATION has a little of something for everyone. The convention itself is a huge blend of nearly every variety of gaming, with sections of the convention set up for board games like ‘Munchkin’ or ‘Firefly: The Game’, for large scale fully costumed Live Action Role Play (LARP) games like ‘The Tavern’ or ‘Werewolf: Eve of the Storm’, or for those of us that aren’t quick as in depth with our gaming, a section strictly for video games like ‘Soul Calibur’ and ‘Rhythm Heaven’. With all the epic gaming going on, it’s almost easy to forget that the convention staff keep you fueled with a seemingly never-ending supply of free soda and snacks so that you can keep gaming as long as your heart desires. There are even several special ’snack events’ like the ’Ice Cream Dreams’ and ’Chocolate Heaven’ buffets (which are pretty much EXACTLY what they sound like) to make sure you’re sugared up and ready to game! DREAMATION truly was a weekend getaway in paradise for the gamer in all of us.

This year DREAMATION hosted over one-hundred and forty indie-published module games, with forty-nine LARP’s and a grand total of over eight-hundred games (eight-hundred and eight to be exact) being played across just three and a half days! There were even a few brand new games both published and unpublished making their premiere at this convention (but more on that later), which lead to a lot of exciting new opportunities for convention-goers.

While attending the DREAMATION event personally this past weekend, I was able to sit down with Vincent Salzillo, who founded both DREAMATION and the company that organizes and hosts this and other events, Double Exposure, Inc:

“DREAMATION started out as a ‘concept convention’, basically taking this idea of having a ‘living convention’ where everybody had a character and we introduced our avatar system as well as the DREAMATION convention in 1995. It has evolved since then into a much heavier role-play and independent gaming convention and right now it’s larger in its role-playing population than ever before. The independent gamers have begun to kind of call it their home.

This year we had nearly twelve-hundred people in attendance, which is still a bit smaller than our biggest gaming convention, DEXCON, which is projected to be at around seventeen-hundred attendees this year in July. Our gender-ratio is absolutely phenomenal, especially for a gaming convention. We’re currently pushing 40% female attendance this year, which is unheard of for a strictly gaming convention.”

Salzillo, who is clearly a man who knows what he’s doing in this market, also took to time to tell us a bit more about the newest convention from the team at Double Exposure, MAELSTROM, which is premiering later this year on April 4th through April 6th, 2014!

“MAELSTROM is going to be a very interesting convention, the very first of it’s kind. It’s got two prongs to it; one of those being that it is a convention that is focused almost entirely on inclusivity, and in that sense we are making sure we have programming that makes people that might not normally feel comfortable at a gaming convention comfortable. We’re tackling race, we’re tackling gender, we’re tackling LGBT issues, and making sure that everybody is feeling that they’re really included as part of this bigger community, while a lot of other gaming conventions seem like they sort of exclude them a bit. The other prong we are focusing on is that the entire event is unscheduled! Double Exposure events are usually known for their very tight jigsaw-like scheduling, and this is the first time that we’re going to be doing something that is really more ‘free-form’ based. We’re going to have one big room that will serve as our ‘grand central station’ and our computer algorithm is going to match up Game Masters (GMs) to players to play all sorts of different games entirely free form, un-scheduled and un-timed.”

As a first time attendee of DREAMATION, I can say from personal experience that this convention is a great time. The people at Double Exposure have something truly special on their hands and I don’t think I’ve ever met so many open minded and friendly people at a convention before. Even if you aren’t too into gaming, it’s nearly impossible not to have a good time at this all ages convention! If you don’t know the games but are willing to try and learn, there is nearly always someone happy to help walk you through it until you can catch the hang of things.  Aside from actually playing games, DREAMATION also hosts both a dealers room packed full of gaming accessories, cosplay/LARP gear and toys, as well as an artist alley where you can check out and purchase fantastic original art! I would highly recommend checking out some of Double Exposure’s upcoming events like MAELSTROM or DEXCON later this year, or even waiting until next February for DREAMATION 2015 to hit!