August 24, 2016

Thank You, Camp Fangamer!!

A couple weeks back, a fun and hilarious time was had in Tucson!.

What happened?  Camp Fangamer.  That’s what happened!

Just like last year, I was totally confused about what was happening all weekend – but I started to figure out more than before… I think.

Let me explain. Actually, no – let me first illustrate.

Want to play every video game known to man all day with your friends + possibly even dress up as your favorite game character? This is the place. Want to “invest” in the “stock market” with a made up currency called Dragon Points (amateurs call it that – the rest of us call it “dP”)? This is your place. Want to eat any kind of ramen on planet Earth at the “Ramen Hut”, which is actually just a hotel hallway closet without doors, but with bamboo walls, one table and two chairs, and somehow feels like a real restaurant (but which only accepts payment in the form of dP)? Did it! Want to do any other random and bizarre thing that has nothing to do with video games, but is still funny? By all means, do it.

This is the main stage, with a T-Rex and a hot dog guy. But, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Okay, now for the explanation (kind of).

I had this roommate in college, Reid Young, who is a close pal and also serves on SYS’ Advisory. In junior high, Reid started a website for fans of a Nintendo video game (called EarthBound, in case you’ve heard of it) that never quite made it mainstream. The community Reid built through his website is very tight and committed, so the website parlayed into him starting Fangamer, which is a merch business for video game fans. They’ve also now hosted a few events called Camp Fangamer.

I’m still terrible at explaining this (partly because Reid is far too humble to claim credit for any of this), but, from what I’ve gathered from attendees, read on Wikipedia (this article references Reid’s work), and merely observed, Reid essentially helped built a cult following around EarthBound that would play a significant role in getting Nintendo to finally bring it back a few years ago on Nintendo 64.  (Thanks pretty accurate, right Reid?)

Anyway, so what is Camp Fangamer, you ask? Well, I’ve been there two years in a row now and I still haven’t quite figured it out. What I do know is that it’s a bit beyond my comprehension (but in a good way), it’s ridiculous and hilarious, and everyone there is really, really, REALLY nice.

Essentially, they spend 3 days being super stoked about video games they love, hanging out with people who share the same love, and doing random fun things (i.e. one guy built a caribou – with a horn that would honk – out of a shopping cart, car bumper, car door, car battery, and other random components).  It’s almost like real-life version of Transformers, only better, because, I mean, it’s a caribou!

This is the caribou, in case you were wondering.

Anything goes, really. And, throughout the weekend, I asked a lot of people, “So, are you having a blast?!” And EVERY single one of them responded with an enthusiastic, “Oh, of course!”

It’s also worth noting that everyone in attendance knew that I’m not much of a video game guy and that I didn’t understand any of their references or inside jokes. So, while being interviewed on the event’s live stream (with viewers all over the country and world), it became apparent to them that I was unable to name a single character in Pokémon Go. They referenced one character and I commented that it’s name sounded a lot like what a prescription drug might be called. So, they created a game just for me called “Pokémon or Prescription Drug?”, in which people from the crowd would throw out words and it was up to me to guess if it was, in fact, the name of a Pokémon character or a prescription drug.

I rarely guessed correctly.

This was the third time Fangamer had chosen for SYS to benefit from their fundraising efforts and it was HUGE for us! Awesome members of their community (this includes you, Pnacho!) built and donated some amazing items (i.e. video game consoles) to be auctioned in a “cut-throat auction” in which all bids are charged regardless of who wins. Holy smokes.

All I can say is that I continue to be blown away by the generosity and kindness shown to SYS by this fantastic group of people. So cool.

So, cheers to you, CampFangamer friends! You guys helped SYS really turn a corner last year and this year added to your amazing blessing. I’ll always be so grateful to you.

Reid, you’ve built a heck of a community.  Big thanks to you and to the Fangamer crew for investing in us at an early stage and for putting SO much into it. Also, give my thanks to the good (and strong) folks at Gamer Blood.  (Reid – do you think anyone realizes that the pies we stuck in each other’s faces were actually shaving cream?  Shaving cream does not taste good.)

Fun memories from Tucson!  What a blessing.  🙂