ST. CHARLES – The brain trust behind the inaugural Gamer Grace convention preaches inclusivity in video, PC and tabletop gaming.
That ethic extends far beyond simply sharing a Nintendo Wii remote or taking proper turns in Magic: The Gathering.
“Because there are some gaming communities that aren’t that friendly or are still working on becoming friendlier communities, just because, you know, things can get competitive. People can get mean,” Gamer Grace co-owner Kayleigh Grubb said. “It’s such a fun community, and we really want to make sure that people are able to get involved and have fun and feel like they’re a part of that community.”
Founded by Grubb and fellow recent Northern Illinois University graduates August Tang and Evan Reeves, Gamer Grace also will highlight gamers with physical and mental disabilities when its convention descends on Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, from Sept. 22 to 24.
The group plans to shift the spotlight to other areas of the gaming world for each subsequent year. For now, though, Grubb, Tang and Reeves simply are giddy about the chance to stage their own gathering. To be sure, they’ve attended their share of conventions and fan fests, taking diligent notes through the years.
For $5 to $35, interested gamers can join the scene at Pheasant Run for a weekend that includes video and tabletop gaming tournaments, panelist discussions, exhibitors, demonstrations, classic gaming, cosplay, dances and more.
Registration is available through Eventbrite via the Gamer Grace website, www.gamergrace.com, which also includes a schedule. The convention begins at noon Sept. 22.
“It shouldn’t matter what your background is, what your gender is. Ethnicity, race, height, ability. Everyone should be able to come together and play video games and have fun,” Grubb said.
Panelist Liam Erven of Des Plaines can attest. Born with a rare disease that caused blindness and partial hearing loss, Erven, 32, channeled inner strength – as well as some assistance from technology and others – to enjoy and excel at video games. He since has become a pioneer in developing games for the visually impaired, while entertaining a growing fan base with demonstrations of his own game playing on his YouTube channel.
“My big thing is, I feel that gaming brings communities together, and so especially in a world like we’re living in today where it’s very crazy and a lot of things are going on, gaming really helps bridge the gap,” Erven said. “So, I’ve gamed with a lot of people that I might not have met otherwise, and one of the cool things is that I’ve met a lot of really cool people that as soon as they realize I’m interested in gaming and enjoy it, you are able to make a lot of friendships.”
The process started at a young age.
“I was like the only kid on the block who had a Nintendo, so everyone came over to Liam’s to play it,” Erven said. “And I could usually con them into reading stuff. It was kind of like, ‘Well, if you play my Nintendo, you can help me with this.’ And so, people were more than happy to.”
Grubb, Tang and Reeves grew up in different parts of Illinois, but ultimately found St. Charles and Pheasant Run to be a strong location and venue.
Grubb stressed the diversity of activities at Pheasant Run, including golf and live entertainment. Then, she delivered a disclaimer.
“I’ll be personally inside playing video games,” she said.“Maybe playing virtual golf. Who knows?”
To learn more about the Gamer Grace convention taking place in St. Charles from Sept. 22 to 24, visit http://gamergrace.com.