WMU News

Conventioneers put on game faces

March 26, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Looking up information on the Internet and polishing term papers will take a back seat to building virtual worlds and battling aliens when Western Michigan University plays host to Southwest Michigan's largest gaming convention.

Marmalade Dog 9: Gamefest 2004, will take place Friday, April 2, through Sunday, April 4, on the second floor of the Bernhard Center. The event is open to the public and will feature a variety of role-playing, board, card and miniature games as well as a charity auction, vendor exhibition area and LAN party with a Quake III Arena tournament.

On hand this year will be representatives from Eden Studios, publisher of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer role playing game; Guild of Blades Publishing Group; Old Dominion Gameworks; local retailer Rider's Hobby; and other businesses related to the hobby gaming industry.

The convention will open at 12:30 p.m. Friday in Room 208, Bernhard Center, while the next two days of activities will take place in the center's East Ballroom. Registration and tournament times will vary throughout the weekend. Doors will close at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, open at 9 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. on Saturday, and open at 11 a.m. and close at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Although not required, game pre-registrations began Feb. 29 and will end March 26. Seats open after this deadline will be available during the convention on a first-come, first-served basis.

The convention is being sponsored by the Western Michigan Gamers Guild, a registered student organization at WMU that is open to non-students. WMGG named the event Marmalade Dog after the organization's mythical mascot--a shaggy orange dog wearing a horned helmet and a bandoleer.

WMGG President Andrew Moll, a senior from Farmington Hills, Mich., majoring in English, says the annual convention has been growing steadily since its debut in 1994.

"About 200 people attended last year's convention, and we've put in a tremendous amount of work to make this Marmalade Dog twice as big," Moll says. "We've doubled the amount of space available for activities on Saturday and, for the first time in Marmalade Dog history, we've extended the convention to three days."

A highlight of 2004's activities slated for Saturday will be the fourth annual LAN party, at which people set up their own computers and play video games together on a network. Those participating in the party will determine the games played, but convention organizers will be prepared to run servers for computer games such as Counter-Strike; Battlefield: 1942; Unreal Tournament 2003; and Quake III Arena.

Another Marmalade Dog mainstay that will be returning this year is the miniature painting contest, in which those attending the event submit their tiny hand-painted figures for judging during the convention. The contest has a variety of categories, so miniatures of similar genres and sizes compete against each other.

This year's charity auction will be a silent auction, with items going to the highest bidder at the end of each day. For the third consecutive year, proceeds will benefit A Commitment to Our Roots. ACTOR is the first federally chartered not-for-profit organization dedicated strictly to providing assistance to comic book industry veterans. More information is available online at <www.actorcomicfund.org>.

In addition to the WMGG, other registered student organizations at WMU will be contributing to Marmalade Dog. The WMU Anime Addicts will screen anime for convention attendees on Saturday and non-animated Japanese productions on Sunday. Also, the Deadly Dancing Emergency Room will run a tournament for the console version of the popular arcade game Dance Dance Revolution on Saturday from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Both of these events will take place in rooms adjacent to the convention.

Marmalade Dog 9 admission fees are $20 for all three days, $15 for Friday and Saturday only or Saturday and Sunday only, $10 for Saturday only, and $7 for Friday only or Sunday only. WMGG members with photo ID will receive a $5 discount on their total admission.

There are no vendor fees, and game masters receive free admission on each day they run a game. A Friday-only parking pass may be purchased for $5. Parking will be free at meters in most lots around the convention site on Saturday and Sunday.

WMGG has a mix of student and non-student members, but only enrolled WMU students may serve as officers. The organization gives members a chance to meet gamers who share their interests as well as a convenient and consistent time and place to play in pick-up games and long-term campaigns. Members also have access to WMGG's game materials library of more than 1,000 items and receive discounts on WMGG tournaments and gaming events.

For more convention information or to register as a player, game master or exhibitor, visit the Marmalade Dog Web site at <www.wmgg.org/marmaladedog> or contact Andrew Moll at (269) 387-2292 or <eboard@wmgg.org>..

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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