Six high school friends from Frankfort are the masterminds behind a gaming convention coming to the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Lexington this weekend.
The Forge Gaming & Comics Convention is the latest proudly nerd-themed event in Lexington, after a comic convention earlier this year that attracted at least 4,000 to Lexington Center.
Forge is less about the glitz and glamour of celebrity panels and more about games themselves.
"We have a lot to offer and hope the public gets to come in and see a bit of what gaming is, and for those want to participate, buy a badge and come out and play," said Brad Sayles, one of the organizers.
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The idea came from the annual treks to gaming and comic conventions by Sayles and his Western Hills High School friends James Noel, Jon Nicholas III, Tony Robinson, Greg Rodgers and Matt Waldner.
"After a while of doing everything they had, we thought it was time to do our own," Sayles said. So the group looked at a few cities and decided that Lexington was the best place to launch a convention.
Sayles said the group focused on making its convention stand out. One idea they settled on was to make the convention hall free. Anyone visiting the Hyatt Regency over the weekend can check out the vendors and watch attractions including a circus sideshow, a burlesque show and costume contest. Admission badges are required only for those joining the more than 150 games, tournaments and other events planned.
"We have something to offer everybody. We have several family- and children-oriented games on display. We have it all, from role-playing games, live action role-playing games, tabletop games, computer games, console games and more."
The convention will be a qualifying site for the world championships of some games.
Sayles said the organizers expect about 600 people to buy badges for the weekend and are confident the event will become an annual affair.
"We're profitable already, and we haven't even had the event," he said.
Among the vendors to be on site is Lexington video game company Frogdice, which has created titles including Coin 'n Carry and Threshold.
The company will offer contests pegged to both games all weekend, and the winners will receive a custom character portrait drawn by one of Frogdice's artists, president and CEO Michael Hartman said.
He said he likes the idea of the Forge convention and its focus.
"A lot of gaming conventions now have become more about television and movies and less about gaming and comic books," Hartman said. "It seems to me that Forge is going to get back to the roots of the gaming conventions.
"It'll be more gaming and actual stuff for people who are really into the hobbies. I'm pretty excited about that."