I was a Scottish accent and a few dilithium crystals away from being Montgomery Scott last weekend.
I attended Dragon Con in Atlanta, a convention known for its wide array of cosplay, but I did not dress as Star Trek’s Scotty. I took his job. Enter Artemis LTE Bridge, a company that sets-up the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator at conventions across the South.
Walking into a rented hotel room there were eight computers of various configurations, each optimized for specific bridge roles. The roles mirror those of Star Trek, stopping just short of a lawsuit. There were two seats for fighter pilots that had a joystick set up similar to the position of the helm, where the main ship is steered. Next to the helm is a weapons computer for the player tasked with equipping and firing torpedoes along with phaser look-a-likes. The science officer has a set-up where they control the map and determine friend from foe. Communications has a touchscreen in which messages are relayed. I sat in engineering, which I will get to in a moment. Behind us all stands the Captain, who needs no computer, relying on his officers to do the work he or she commands.
The game begins and the goal is unclear at first. Eventually, the communications officer next to me gets a distress call to which we respond. Shields up! We are in battle.
The Captain never tells me to do anything. He’s just as new at this as I am. In retrospect, I wish I opted to play the non-beginner game. I may not know anything, but that doesn’t mean I want to play with people who know nothing. Luckily, engineering is pretty intuitive. On the touchscreen, there was a schematic of the Artemis with bars showing how our resources are being used. I route more power to the front shield and torpedos. The Com guy attempts to tell the Captain, or the Weapons guy, or anyone who will listen, that the enemy is surrendering. The Artemis blows them up.
Oh, and there are space whales, which are very hard to kill. I learn about them about the time I learn that my screen displays the ship’s remaining energy. Energy is refilled by docking at space stations. The closest space station is beyond the range our impulse power reserves allow.
At this point, the only person in the room with real experience playing speaks up. Apparently, our options are to convert remaining torpedos into power the ship can use or turn the power off to all systems which would allow a bit of a recharge. We were out of torpedos and being eaten by space whales at the time.
Artemis was a comedy of errors and comedies are always funny. I was entertained playing but missed the experience of being part of a effective crew. The game may be purchased and played amongst local friends who have the computer hardware to spare. I doubt I’ll make that investment, but perhaps I’ll boldly go back to the bridge next Dragon Con.