VALPARAISO | Although Valparaiso University students are away for spring break, the Harre Union Ballroom was buzzing with activity Sunday.
At Arcticon 2014 — a tabletop gaming convention — nearly 200 people gathered to play tabletop games for charity.
Gamers tried their hands at more than 20 games, such as Warhammer, Gruntz, Zombicide, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Pathfinder and the perennial favorite, Dungeons & Dragons.
The fourth annual event was organized by Ben Starkey and a group of friends who form the Eidolon Syndicate, the aim of which is to raise money for charities, particularly those aiding veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Project.
“A number of us are vets and have long family history of members who serve,” said Starkey, of Valparaiso.
Starkey said his group was named for a word, which means “phantom,” he spotted in an Edgar Allan Poe poem.
“It grabbed me, because we do things behind the scenes,” said Starkey. “We don’t want to make a name for ourselves … we’re not in it for the glory. We just want to help.”
Similarly, Starkey said Arcticon was so named because most gaming conventions are in the spring and summer, so the group decided to host theirs in the winter.
“There’s not much going on in the winter,” said Starkey. “It’s a good chance to get out of the house and have some fun.”
Besides playing games, conventioneers could paint miniature game figures, participate in game raffles and mingle with those dressed as their favorite game characters.
Todd Preissig shuffled a card deck to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with friends Tyler Sickles and Lee Simpson.
“This is a cooperative card game,” said Preissig, of Valparaiso. “Either we all win or the game wins. It’s a very popular game concept right now.”
Simpson said he’s been away from gaming for the past few years, but the convention gave him a chance to catch up.
“I’m seeing people I used to game with and get to try out games I wouldn’t otherwise,” said Simpson.
Last year’s convention raised $1,200, and the group hoped this year to “raise that much, if not more,” Starkey said.
With Arcticon running from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 pm, organizers had plenty of time to raise funds for charity.
“We cater to all kinds of geekdom,” said Starkey. “You can find something to do all day long.”