I’ve gone to a number of different popular media fan conventions at this point, and there’s something different about the experience that DreamHack provides that I don’t think I understood until this year.
DreamHack is a gaming experience where very largely online communities can gather, play, and make some memories together. These communities often gather around the high-profile gaming tournaments almost constantly underway on the big stages that litter the edges of the convention area. Just as many, however, engage in amateur and high school gaming tournaments or just play in their own small groups, participating in the world-famous bring-your-own-computer LAN parties that are a signature sight at DreamHack conventions.
Whereas my primary motivation this year was seeing T-Pain play Dungeons & Dragons for the first time with an awesome cast (including Anjali Bhimani, who I got to interview!), I now understand what the gathering of communities really means to the people who get the most out of DreamHack.
A Sense of Community a Lot of Us Desperately Need
Especially for gamers, who can just as easily enjoy and find solace in the individual experience of playing a video game solo from their couch or desk chair, I think we really need those moments where we come together to enjoy these games with friends, new and old. I found myself gazing fondly upon groups of friends laughing and ribbing each other from their adjacent desk chairs, wishing my friends who could enjoy these gaming tournaments with me lived closer, and thinking back to the high of middle school Halo LAN parties that I’ve been chasing ever since.
DreamHack is a place that fosters and treasures these experiences, and for that, I think this convention is really special. I’ll certainly be looking to do the BYOC next year, and hopefully I can wrangle a few friends to do the same.
Now for Something Entirely Different: T-Pain’s First Time Playing D&D
Put together by his own gaming company, Nappy Boy Gaming, T-Pain brought Anjali Bhimani, Lou Wilson (I’m also a big fan of him!), Hertlife, and GM Caustic Phoenix along for this particular ride. When I tell you that I’ve been playing and watching Dungeons & Dragons games very consistently for about 8 years, I hope you’ll understand the gravity of me stating that this was possibly the most unhinged game of Dungeons & Dragons I have ever witnessed.
Don’t get me wrong, it was still a hilarious show to attend, but I think the tone was really set for the game when T-Pain announced that his character was known far and wide as “Him Night Shamalama Ding Dong.” From the opening scene where Hertlife’s barbarian was juggling as many as five children at a time, to the final fight featuring a piss elemental and a hostile manifestation of Mr. Dong’s grandma in lingerie, it was a fever dream of very literal pee and fart jokes.
It’s difficult to tell if this was what Caustic Phoenix had in mind when she planned out this game, but kudos to her for rolling with the tone that T-Pain set if it was not.
Send Me Back!
All of this to say that I highly recommend attending the next DreamHack in Atlanta or near you if you have never been. The convention runs for three days and the one I will attend is already scheduled for 2024 (October 4-6), and features dozens of small events I don’t have space to mention here for almost every gaming experience you can imagine. See you there next year!
Did you go to DreamHack Atlanta 2023? What did you think of it? Feel free to leave a comment below or chat with us on Twitter/X at @TheConCollectve, Threads at @theconventioncollective, or Bluesky at @theconcollective.bsky.social
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