It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: This Is Geek’s Shanna Hartzell Talks Speed Gaming


We’ve all heard of speed dating: you show up to the event, sit across from a potential mate, ask some questions, answer some questions, form a first impression, and move on to the next table. I believe that any actual connection is somehow arranged via the event organizers. But, then again, I’m not the cutesy, mushy type and have no interest in writing a Valentine’s Day-themed piece on how to meet the love of your life . . . unless, of course, that love happens to be a game. I, personally, am always looking for a new or different game to play. What better way to expose yourself to new and different games than to participate in a speed-gaming event?

This Is Geek, organizer of 2D Con, Minnesota’s largest gaming convention, is hosting a Valentine’s Day themed co-op gaming event at 4 PM this Saturday at Level Up Games in South St. Paul. Whether you bring your Valentine or not is completely up to you. Bringing a donation is greatly appreciated although not required. This is a free event.

What is speed gaming? I wondered the same thing. Lucky for all of us, Shanna Hartzell, treasurer of This Is Geek, was willing to answer a few of my questions on the subject:

Twin Cities Geek (TCG): Let’s get right to the point. What is speed gaming?

Shanna Hartzell: So the game plan—depending on the number of people—is that for two hours we’ll do “speed date” gaming which is really just randomly-paired people. Upon walking in, you can write down if you want to play one setup or both. If you are doing the second setup and have a partner, we will pit you against another pair. If you don’t, we will randomly pick one for you. Setup #1 is a two-player-continuous co-op like Yoshi’s Wolly World or equivalent. And Setup #2 is a VS game like Mario Kart, so 2V2. Each five to ten minute round would be a different pairing of partners or individual opponents.

TCG: Why a Valentine’s Day-themed speed gaming event? And . . . the name?

Shanna: Haha. As for the name of the event, the president of This is Geek, Joseph, and I are HUGE Zelda fans and it’s just a classic line. We—very last minute—decided to do a Valentine’s event because it was just an adorable concept. Most of us aren’t the biggest fans of Valentine’s Day, and it can be hard to get together in a non-stressful way with other geeks/nerds/what have you. This is just a very open, no stress, no pressure environment. Not to mention that Level Up has an amazing open space and allows us to host these types of events with little notice. Even if you show up and leave alone you can still have a blast playing games and mingling with like-minded people.

TCG: Besides the speed gaming, what else will be going on at your event?

Shanna: Well, besides the five TVs set up with various consoles, we’ll have our tabletop library of endless choices of games available. There will also be an area open to Perler bead creators. And cupcakes!

TCG: The event is free but you accept donations. Where do those donations go?

Shanna: This is Geek is a non-profit corporation and public charity. Therefore, all of our proceeds either go to help run 2D Con or straight to Gillette Children’s Hospital.

Take some time this Saturday to meet new people, play new games, explore the world of Perler beads, eat cupcakes, and, if you can, bring a donation to help out an exciting local convention and a great cause. Bring a Valentine, a friend, or your mom. If you go alone, just remember that it’s only dangerous until you get there.

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