Twenty years ago…

My first game show was at A-Kon in Dallas back in 1999. With A-Kon happening this weekend, I thought I’d take a moment to reminisce on that first show.

The first Anime Match Game featured a panel that included voice actor Tiffany Grant, translators Anna Exter and Neil Nadelman, ANIMERICA writer Geoff Tebbetts, Justin Sevakis, who had just launched Anime News Network, and Rodney Caston, who would go on to co-create the Megatokyo webcomic.

Ruby Boiko, cosplaying as a frame-perfect Hsien-ko from the Darkstalkers franchise, was my lovely assistant and the official judge for the day.

I hauled my desktop PC to the convention to provide the music and sound effects for the show, and had spent most of an inkjet printer cartridge creating nameplates for the celebrity panel. There is video of the game out there somewhere in the dusty archives of A-Kons past, but I’ve only ever seen one clip, where a rotten answer turned into a win for a contestant on this question:

“Mihoshi is SOOOOO dumb (audience: “HOW DUMB IS SHE?!”) that when she was invited to the Galaxy Police’s Ball, she asked if she would need to bring her _______ .”

I was expecting sports-related answers. I wasn’t expecting the contestant to respond with “condoms.” I REALLY wasn’t expecting Tiffany to respond with “her diaphragm.” Which we matched. And that 1-0 win stuck.

Prizes were furnished by my pocket and consisted of cash, cash and more cash. I think we gave away twenty bucks that day?

After the show I was introduced to up-and-coming actors Brett Weaver and Jessica Calvello, who would have their turns on Match Game over the next several years and would go on to have fun careers in the industry themselves.

I’d continue to host Anime Match Game at A-Kon for the next six conventions, adding new twists and tech each time.  Since that first show I went on to host hundreds more at conventions all over the world. But it all started in a hot panel room in Dallas in 1999.