The Other Columbus: IdrisCON 2022
In honor of Our Family Plays Games, this Alive columnist constructs a day of gaming around beloved British actor Idris Elba
At the top of the pandemic, sandwiched between an unknown virus and captivity, I came across a YouTube video series, Our Family Plays Games (OFPG).
OFPG videos featured Mik and Starla Fitch, a Black family in Nebraska who sat at a table in their home and extolled the virtues of board gaming. Their mission was to get people into gaming, but also to draw attention to the need for diversity in the gaming industry. Their teenage son shot and edited the videos, and it was basically the most wholesome thing I had ever seen.
There are a lot of board gaming channels out there, but OFPG’s lively banter and loving jabs were a perfect balm at a time when the world seemed on the verge of literal collapse. Their love of gaming and of each other was so evident that “Good Morning America” interviewed them on national television, which was like laying a warm blanket over the country for five minutes.
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I came upon them around May of 2020, when they had maybe 18 videos. I would have breakfast with them, play their videos while I worked, and fall asleep to their arguments. They were a true solace back when the pandemic was raging.
One of the funniest bits in their series is the occasional mention of Idris Elba. Turns out Starla is a bit of a fan, which causes her husband no small amount of exaggerated distress. She bats her eyelashes and smiles to herself in thoughtful reflection, and Mik rends his clothes in despair at any mention of the actor. It’s rare, but hilarious every single time.
In episode No. 104, they shared a question I submitted for their Q&A segment: “What game would Starla want to play with Idris Elba?” Good lord, readers, of course I asked this with complete sincerity; it’s a family show! It’s fun to think about which board games you might play with certain people should you ever be afforded the opportunity. Anyhow, Starla turned on the juice, Mik practically had a heart attack, and a good time was had by all (except for their son, who I imagine was behind the camera screwing his face up the way all children do when they see their parents being “real grown”).
As Starla began rolling out a whole list of gaming options, it occurred to her that a whole day’s worth of gameplay could be fashioned into a convention-style event: IdrisCON. The premise was simple: The titular star would come and play games all day. Board games, some smack talk across the table, maybe a boxed lunch by candlelight. You know, convention stuff.
If you know me, you know what happened next: The idea got stuck in my head. The only remedy I’ve ever discovered to unmoor an idea whose time has come is to share it. So, as a down payment for all the joy Our Family Plays Games has given me over the last couple of years, I’d like to give them (well, one of them anyway) something they’d appreciate. I produce events, so I sat down, put my Monopoly top hat on, and drafted a gaming convention in their honor.
(Who knows, maybe we’ll all get lucky and Big Driis will show up here in Columbus at Origins, which runs June 8-12 and happens to be one of the more prestigious gaming conventions in the country.)
IdrisCON 2022 - September 3
(Wrapping up just in time for his birthday on September 6, which he is then free to spend with his actual family, if he must.)
9:00 a.m. - Game: King’s Breakfast
A king invites you to breakfast, but you have to be careful not to eat more than he does. Actual tea and crumpets will be served prior to gameplay.
10:30 a.m. - Game: Obsession
Players attempt to improve their mid-19th century Victorian estate. Build your own “Bridgerton” experience! Elba will play while dressed as the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset.
Noon - Lunchtime
Attendees are served an assortment of teas, finger sandwiches, and biscuits shaped like Stringer Bell. Get stuffed with Idris!
1:00 p.m. - Game: Glory: A Game of Knights
While Elba is considered a Fourth Class officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), we here in the States are more than happy to get him trained up to a proper First Class knighthood with a game that tests his mettle in a series of jousts, quests and the always riveting task of worker placement!
2:30 p.m. - Game: Village Green
Let’s get Sir Elba’s hands dirty with a little faux gardening! Play as rival gardeners getting your plots ready for annual competition. Elba will be cosplaying as a hard-working gardener by playing with his shirt off.
4:00 p.m. - Teatime
Sip-sip while you get your drip-drip on with Elba poolside, taking a quick but relaxing respite from all that arduous dice rolling and card shuffling.
5:00 p.m. - Game: Marvel Champions
This exciting card game will be made even more marvelous with the IdrisCON-exclusive debut of Heimdall as a playable character in the forthcoming Black Asgardians set! Idris will briefly pop in the gold contact lenses we all fell in love with in all those Thor movies.
6:00 p.m. - High Tea
Yes, again, but this time with 50 percent more scented candles.
7:00 p.m. - Game: Soccer Blast
What better way to celebrate Elba’s beloved Arsenal club than with a highly nuanced and strategic card game that captures all the physicality of soccer without any of the grass stains?
9:00 p.m. - Game: Scrabble
The only thing in the world you may be able to beat Elba at, but probably because we’re considering half of the things that he says foreign words and thus unplayable in the United States. Bob’s your uncle!
10:00 p.m. - Midnight - After Party, music provided by DJ Big Driis
The first hour will consist solely of Idris raps, guest appearances and singles. Thirty minutes of said hour will be “Daily Uppy (Cus I Can)” on repeat.