Day of Games
“There are plenty of nerds here in Reno,” says Kevin Fredericks, founder of the Reno Video Game Symphony.
According to Fredericks, video game culture is exploding in Northern Nevada. Competitive gaming is establishing roots (“Level up,” July 4, 2013) and retro gaming is making a comeback (“Drinking games,” Aug. 29, 2013). Some of this is affected by the proximity of California’s avid gaming scenes in Sacramento and San Jose, but there are also many long-time gamers here, too, who want to see Reno become a new hub for geekdom.
Founded in 2011 for playing at events hosted for game releases, Fredericks and his musician comrades started the RVGS to bring video game music to Reno’s art and music scene. From there, the RVGS became an outlet for nerd-centric events such as the Reno GAME Expo, a large-scale gaming convention held at the Silver Legacy. This year’s GAME Expo is an official Artown event.
But smaller events, like the upcoming Day of Games, are where the RVGS gets to shine and test the waters of Reno’s geekery. The Day of Games is an all-day event at the Reno Collective where people can participate in different facets of gaming. (Full disclosure: The author facilitates workshops for the Reno Collective, but is unaffiliated with this event or the RVGS.)
“We can’t do everything we want at the large convention,” Fredericks says. “The Day of Games is our favorite event that we do. It’s like a little playground. It’s experimental.”
Fredericks describes it as “the most high-tech sleepover you’ll ever go to,” except that it’s not technically a sleepover. The 9-hour event hosted at the Reno Collective will start at noon and begin with an opening performance by the symphony. For the first few hours, several stations will be set up with retro game consoles like the SNES and N64, table top games like Settlers of Catan, and card games like Pokémon and Magic: the Gathering. Panels will be hosted on topics like cosplay or video game collecting. Later in the evening, the night will offer a series of performances by musicians playing video game scores, as well as chiptune and nerdcore artists brought in from California. There’s even an all-you-can-eat cereal bar with Drew Gerthoffer from Cereal Time with Drew, a YouTube show produced in part by Fredericks.
Meanwhile, Fredericks says there will also be viewings of “cute dirty Japanese anime” shows like Shin Chan. “All these little things that people express love for are very niche. Everyone gets a chance to engage in what they want to do.”
For the RVGS, people who love video games, eight-bit music, symphonic renditions of gaming soundtracks, card games and obscure anime shows tend to be part of the same tribe.
“We’re kind of nerds in general,” he says. “We had a discussion on why people starting using the word ’nerd.’ People start identifying themselves by the things they love, not the things they do to make money.”
But the “geek” vs. “nerd” debate comes down to semantics, as Fredericks sees the terms as interchangeable.
“Sometimes people who really get into something can’t see the forest through trees,” he says.
The response to the RVGS’s endeavors has been “amazing,” according to Fredericks, who says the local art scene has been accommodating and inclusive of video games. RVGS is a non-profit, and its projects are funded by the Holland Project. The group has also collaborated with the Nevada Museum of Art and Nevada Humanities, among other cultural projects.
“Every organization shows us a different perspective on the importance of gaming,” he says. “It shows that video games bring together art and music and people.”