CarbonCON is back with cosplay, gaming and more

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

Events like Gen Con and Comic-Con are popular conventions where fans of a certain subject join together and surround themselves with mutual appreciation. 

These conventions vary in theme, from movies and comics to mermaids and toilets. If there are enough enthusiasts of it, a convention can happen.

Perhaps not as obscure as others, CarbonCON 2015, Carbondale’s very own gaming convention, will be held for the second year Saturday and Sunday in the Renaissance Room of the Student Center.

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Nintendo Wii Super Smash Brothers and Cards Against Humanity tournaments, live action medieval fight demonstrations and cosplay are just some of the entertainment offered.

CarbonCON’s precursors were conceived by Scott Thorne, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books, and ran for five years starting in 2008. One was Egypt Wars, a three-day gaming convention in the Spring and another Little Egypt Wars, a one-day convention in the fall. 

He decided to hold a convention because of the discontinuation of Carbondale’s first gaming convention, Egyptian Campaign, which ran from 1987 to 2007 and drew in approximately 750 people at its peak, Thorne said.

“Carbondale has always had a strong gaming community, especially for the size of the town,” he said.  “I came down here in about 1985 and there was already a good, strong board game and gaming community.”

Thorne passed the torch to former Egyptian Campaign members and current CarbonCON committee members Brandon Hale and Christa Bourbeau in 2014, who changed the name because of dwindling participation. 

The turnout for Egypt Wars began to decrease because the event was known as a Castle Perilous event and other gaming stores felt excluded. 

Even though it was not an exclusive event, attendance decreased more and more until the first CarbonCON, where the participation reached about 180 people, Hale said.

The cosplay contest was one of the largest attracting forces last year, he said.

“I’m already getting over 40 or 50 hits on our social media about people saying that they’re coming to it,” he said. “We expect the cosplay contest to be a lot bigger this year.” 

Since this is only the second convention, the cosplay contest is divided up into two tracks: Skit track, which involves performances, and non-skit track. Other conventions can feature upwards of 30 tracks.

“Because we’re still growing and this is only our second time doing a cosplay contest, we’re still keeping it more simple than you’re going to find at ComicCon or Collinsville,” he said. “We’re trying to build on it each time.” 

If the cosplay contest gains popularity in all ages, they may also introduce a contest for children next year, as long as a parents accompany participants, he said.

In addition to cosplay and games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, CarbonCON holds a charity auction. The proceeds to Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park, Bourbeau said. 

Bourbeau represents Steve Jackson Games and Atlas Games who send in items for auction as well, she said. 

“They send us donations to put in the auction … a lot of their exclusive stuff so people get really excited about that,” she said. 

CarbonCON will also donate all excess proceeds to Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park.

As the event continues to grow, CarbonCON will maintain their goal of bringing gamers together to network, Hale said.

“[Our purpose is] to give a place where gamers of all stripes, role players, board gamers, computer gamers and cosplayers can come together and have a good time together, network, meet new people and make friends over a good game,” he said.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected]

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