GenCon: The Other Side

I think this was my…11th GenCon, believe it or not.

97 was my first, 98, skipped 99, 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08.

Good Lord. 11 is supposed to be a lucky number, but I’m not sure it was in this case. I’m glad I went, but it was a strange show. Marked more by a sense of confusion, lack of planning, and my breaking body. Anyway, with that said, here’s a few things to consider / remember / reflect on:

Drove in from Toronto – 9 hours with Devinder.

  • Sketched out some short story ideas.
  • Discussed next phase of Western Horror script
  • Met Jason Durall in hotel room
  • Had dinner with Jason & Robin Laws
  • Went to Diana Jones Award’s Party

Diana Jones is the traditional way to open GenCon, and has been for several years. There, I had a long conversation with Paul Tevis about the nature of blogs and podcasts and such, and while I still don’t have a clear purpose for the page, it’s motivating and invigorating to be thinking about it. Paul said (I paraphrase), “write whatever you want, and people will decide whether or not they want to read it. Even if your subjects are scattered, it will create a community that is interested in that.” Or something like that.

I also got to say “hi” to Brian Gilmore, whom I used to work with at Cryptic on City of…, see the Nephews from Atlas, and early copies of:

Things We Think… was highly recommended, but I have to confess it looked a bit zen for me. Sadly I failed to grab a copy to ponder over and reflect on, but I do want to check it out more thoroughly in the future.

Deep Ones is kind of awesome, though Where the Wild Things doesn’t have as much place in my childhood nostalgia as, say, Seuss’s The Lorax. Still, everyone who has glimpsed the book is impressed so I’m pleased I grabbed it – though I think it may well end up as a gift to a colleague.

Slept in for maybe the first time ever at a GenCon (with the exception of mornings following late-night demos). I was a bit at a loss what to do, not having to:

  • a) Build a booth
  • b) Cart a heavy metric assload of books anywhere
  • c) Corral demo monkeys
  • d) Finish writing a demo
  • e) Run said demo
  • Or anything else associated with opening the con.

I spent the morning and early afternoon running errands. The USPS/UPS failed to deliver my business cards in time, but luckily I had a copy of the key files on my laptop, so I (painfully) hiked up to Kinkos and ordered a short-run of cards, and printed off some copies of our movie script, just in case.

Dev and I then met two friends from Ottawa (soon to be Calgary), Xris and Karen. We had lunch at Bucca de Pope’s Head, which is always fun, then finally made our way to the convention center.

Karen and I wandered around looking at games and things, while Dev and Xris planned to hunt and gather some Magic cards.

Saw Zev at Z-Man games, who is a great guy, and was intrigued by their new Nixon vs. Kennedy boardgame, 1960: The Making of the President.

As with a real election campaign, the challenge is to adapt your game plan as the ground shifts out from under you. There are never enough resources or time to do everything, but you need to make the tough calls to propel yourself into the White House. This fast-playing strategy game for two players challenges you to relive the most significant political contest of the Twentieth Century. Will you recreate history, or rewrite it? 1960: The Making of the President provides you the opportunity to do both.

I’m not sure how it plays, but it reminded me much of Mad Men, which is a good thing.

We saw the World of Warcraft minis at the Upperdeck booth, and they looked pretty cool even though the attendant told Karen in no uncertain terms, “Please stay back behind the barrier. Do not touch the minis.”

And we got to playtest the demo of Papparazi from Catalyst. Looks very fun and way off-color. It’s designed by my pal, Adam Jury, and has the players acting as gossip-sniffing papparazi, trying to get the most tabloid worthy pics of the trashiest celebrities, while interfering with their cold-blooded brethren.

THURS NIGHT – City of Heroes
Thursday night was an informal player meet-up with the City of Heroes group. Last year NCsoft did a big player meet-up that was a smashing success, but unfortunately NCsoft didn’t make it to GenCon this year. So I shot out the notion of an informal “meet-up” on the CoH forums and we got some good response.

Good enough that Bonehead (aka “Fiddy” for his 50th Level achievement at GenCon last year) took up the reigns and helped coordinate the group at Jillian’s.

We had 25+ people come out and a good time was had by all, I think. Karen used to be a big CoH player (I think she has 8 level 50 characters!) and Jason, who works in the MMO industry, and both came out with me. I was impressed as always by the friendliness, enthusiasm, and camaraderie of the City of… players.

As I said on the forums,

Very fun chatting with Darren, Ron, Brau, Paul, Marissa, Rob, Phil, Monica, Stephen, Vincent, and all the rest.
Great to put so many faces to names, and to hear about what people do when they aren’t saving Paragon City (secret identities ranged from lots of IT work, to fire fighting, cabinet making, the National Guard, pharmaceutical industry, and so forth).

And Bonehead managed to take a few photos.

More about the con shortly.

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Posted in General on August 20, 2008 by Jesse
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Jesse Scoble

Jesse Scoble is a writer, story editor, and game designer in no particular order.

He has won awards, written a Western Horror script, worked on computer games & pen&paper games, contributed to more than 30 titles, and makes a mean mojito.

Currently he is a freelance writer in Montreal, QC.