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Stephanie Frey, right, leads a Pokémon tournament at ShushCon 17.
Tanya Ackerman/Coastal Observer

ShushCon 17: Play’s the thing

By Nikki Best
Coastal Observer

A skillful gunshot lands between your first enemy’s eyes, but as the bullet passes through, lightning arcs off the bullet and hits the enemy behind him. Both enemies go down.

What sounds like an outlandish movie scene is a gamer’s narrated turn during Action Movie Role Playing Game at the Waccamaw Neck’s annual event of geekery, ShushCon. Gamers from around the region and out of state gathered at the library to play games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek Ascendancy and Pokémon.

Patrick Davis is new to Pawleys Island and new to ShushCon this year. He played the action movie role playing game as a karate cop. It’s a character class in the game, he said.

“I named him Duncan Law,” Davis said. “After an actual person I knew in high school.”

The magic makers behind ShushCon are Donald Dennis and Stephanie Frey, teen tech librarians. Dennis said that despite a lack of promotion, attendance for this year’s tournament was admirable, more than 200 people came out.

“There aren’t any dedicated gaming conventions in the area,” he said. “But right up and down the Grand Strand, this is the one.”

Frey set up an all-ages Pokémon tournament for attendees to play on their Nintendo 3DS systems. Frey played in the tournament, but disqualified herself from winning. As a prize, she offered a unique Eevee character she bred in her own Pokémon world.

“I want that shiny Eevee,” Emma Barney, 14, said.

“I did a bunch of research and put this team together,” Frey said. “They’re Camelot.”

In her Camelot, Frey’s specially made army of Eevees are all named after characters from King Arthur’s court.

“You will not burn Merlin,” she exclaimed in the midst of battle. “Merlin burns you.”

“I am out of my league,” Mark Hennion said while playing in the round robin Pokémon tournament.

He and his son traveled from Myrtle Beach for the convention. Hennion is no amateur when it comes to most table top games, he served as a game master most of the weekend, but Pokémon is a whole other federation. The Coastal Carolina University graduate student says he could think of worse ways to spend part of his spring break.

“We try to come down here every week,” Hennion said. “This place is great.”

In addition to gaming, the convention featured a flea market, escape rooms, guild ball, a visit from a game developer and tea dueling.

“So basically two people go head to head and both of them will have a cookie,” Jameson Baldwin, 13, said, explaining the tea dual. “What you’ll have to do is dunk it halfway until the sides meet and then you’re trying to get it into your mouth and take a bite before it crumbles and before the other person’s crumbles.”

“It’s a big game of chicken, with a cookie or biscuit,” Dennis said. “It’s a civilized sport.”

Support from game publishers and the community were a highlight of the convention this year. ShushCon 2018 is already set for next March.

“As you’re building up to the event you worry, are folks going to show up, and here when you sit back and watch and see a full room of people playing games and having fun,” Dennis said. “That’s why I do it.”

Anyone interested in learning to play games or in building their own Camelot don’t have to wait until ShushCon 18. The library is open.

“I will teach you,” Frey said.

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