Gen Con 2009

As my regular readers know (and note, I refrained from calling you all “my Precious”), my blog will be fairly erratic as I put my nose to the grindstone to finish the second novel in my trilogy. Occasionally, I will find a way to procrastinate. This weekend it was Gen Con. Allow me to share a few picture highlights from the con. Two are hanging with John C. Hay and, well, what I’m calling the dorkcycle.


Though I was at the convention the entire time, on Saturday, the family joined me. My sons came appropriately dressed as Batman (Reese) and the Hulk (Malcolm – and as to not make Wrath James White upset, note that it’s the green Hulk, not the gray one). Since we were babysitting my nephew at the time, he was indoctrinated into the typical Broaddus family events. Turns out, Scooby was the hugest hit.

All the boys were constantly having their pictures taken (though the Hulk proved to be quite shy, so I ended up bribing him with candy to cooperate with the photographers). And they were invited to join in the Gen Con costume parade.


We wrapped up the afternoon building a house of cards which was added to the city of cards. We even returned to Gen Con late at night in order to participate in the charity destruction of the city of cards (oddly enough: boys + chance to destroy buildings of cards = WIN!)

We wrapped up our evening by checking in on a Magic the Gathering tournament. Notice that we have opted to pose for a picture of just us rather than show a picture of Mr. Hay’s ignominious and brutally quick defeat.

The rest of the pictures are available on teh wife’s Facebook albums:


I’ll post some actual reporting from the con in a few days. At some point I have to earn my press pass.

Interview with Lawrence C. Connolly

Fleeing from what should have been a perfect crime, four crooks in a black Mustang race into the Pennsylvania highlands. On the backseat, a briefcase full of cash. On their tail, a tattooed madman who wants them dead. The driver calls himself Axle. A local boy, he knows the landscape, the coal-hauling roads and steep trails that lead to the perfect hideout: the crater of an abandoned mine. But Axle fears the crater. Terrible things happened there. Things that he has spent years trying to forget. Enter Kwetis, the nightflyer, a specter from Axle’s ancestral past. Part memory, part nightmare, Kwetis has planned a heist of his own. And soon Axle, his partners in crime, and their pursuer will learn that their arrival at the mine was foretold long ago . . . and that each of them is a piece of a plan devised by the spirits of the Earth.

Available from Fantasist Enterprises, Veins is Lawrence C. Connolly’s debut novel. I had a chance to sit down with Larry at GenCon and run a few questions by him:

What is your spiritual background/journey?

I’m from western Pennsylvania, where forests fold into valley and rise along mountain crags. Enter those forests, start walking, and sooner or later you’ll come to a place where the earth opens into an unnatural valley of sumac, hemlock, and weedy grass. These are the wounds that never heal, the deep man-made scars left behind after the veins of the earth have been carted away for heat and industry. My spiritual journey begins in such places.

I’m not an environmentalist. That term doesn’t go deep enough. It doesn’t begin to reach the level of spiritual connection that I feel to this part of the world. My spiritual journey is one of discovering how I connect to this place, why I feel at home here, and why I sometimes sense the pain of cleared forests and leveled mountains.

What do you see as the power of myth?

Some truths can’t stand the weight of fact. They can only be grasped through metaphor, allegory, parable. The great prophets knew this. They were storytellers, after all. They understood the transcendent power of a well-told tale.

What is the mythology behind your novel?

The protagonist in Veins is a young man who calls himself Axle. He’s the hub, the center of something he does not understand. His great grandmother tries guiding him with half remembered stories from her childhood, fables about the land. One night she leads him to the brink of a machine-scarred valley, and there he begins to understand … but the understanding frightens him. He dismisses her teachings as lies. And for a while, until the threat of death forces him back to that same valley nine years later, he believes he was right to dismiss them.

Mythology is like that. We hear the stories as children, learn to doubt them as we approach adulthood, and ultimately return to them when we develop the wisdom to see the truth within their fiction.

I like the idea of people seeing the same images yet they are interpreted through their different
spiritual perspectives. What is your spiritual take on your novel?

I intend to play with this premise of multiple interpretations throughout the next two books in the Veins series.

In Veins, the first book, Axle’s great grandmother tries explaining the mysteries of the land by telling young Axle the stories she learned as a child. She believes that her stories are authentic American Indian tales, but her memory is foggy, and the things she knows are actually amalgams of second-hand myth and false memory. She passes these versions of her stories onto Axle, who in turn comes to his own understanding of them.

Eventually, Axle realizes that it doesn’t matter what he chooses to believe. He can rationalize and reinterpret the old stories all he wants, but reinterpretation doesn’t change his growing realization that the earth is alive … and it has plans for him.

You use Native American culture as a backdrop and use the spirits of the Earth. How do they work in the context of your novel?

The reference to Native American culture in the novel is an attempt to acknowledge that there are forces in the land that transcend contemporary culture.

Axle is a rural American kid with dreams of fast cars and open roads. As a child he longs to hit the highway and race off for parts unknown, but as his story progresses he realizes that his own front yard rests in the shadow of the biggest unknown of all.

The book’s allusions to indigenous cultures serve, I hope, as a reminder that our personal beliefs may be short-sighted, that we must look beyond ourselves for the big answers.

Your story hints and wrestles with the idea of something beyond this world. How does this idea work itself out in your writing and in your characters?

We live our lives in a moment of geologic time, and yet we consider ourselves masters of the earth. In Veins, Axle comes to realize the folly of such a conceit. The realization changes him. Indeed, it may very well kill him if he isn’t careful. I dare say no more. This element of the book is best discovered in the reading.

What are you working on? What can we look for next from you?

I’m also a musician. For the past few months I’ve been working on a collection of trance, rock, and ambient compositions designed to enhance the reading of Veins. Fantasist Enterprises plans to release the CD this Fall, but a nice preview is available at the novel’s promotional website: www.VeinsTheNovel.com. Beyond that, Fantasist is talking about bringing out a two-volume set of all of my previously published stories, nearly three decades of fiction bound up in two illustrated editions. Then there’s Vipers, the second novel in the Veins series, which is due to come out sometime next year.

And there are lots and lots of new stories and novelettes in the pipeline, things due out from Cemetery Dance, PS Publishing (where I’m doing music-inspired stories for anthologies based on the songs of Bruce Springsteen and Nick Cave), Ash-Tree Press, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Dark Hart Press, and others.

A lot of the new stuff is set in western Pennsylvania. The more I write, the more convinced I am that I’m getting close to something … a revelation of place … an uncovering of deep truths hidden right underfoot. That truth is out there somewhere, just beyond the point where the ground opens and the forest falls away. When I find it, I’ll let you know.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Gen Con 2008 V: Gamer’s Delight – A Wrap Up

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

From what I was told, that Matthew verse was Gary E. Gygax’s favorite Scripture and goes a long way to illuminating how Gary chose to live his life. Gary, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons and founder of Gen Con, passed away earlier this year. His death sent reverberations throughout the gaming world and at Gen Con we were reminded of not only his legacy, but also of how many lives he touched. As D&D; sees its 4th edition this year, the equivalent of seeing a new pope, his loss was felt by the entire gaming community and community is what Gen Con is all about.

Gen Con is kind of like taking the typical high school hierarchy and inverting it. Suddenly the A/V squad, band members, and chess club as shoving jocks into lockers (literally, as Colts fans anxious to tour the newly opened Lukas Stadium had to give way to a parade of stormtroopers).

We all want a place where we can be included, where we can be who we are and not only accepted, but understood. For many folks, conventions like Gen Con are family reunions, where the blood of the family is found in their united passion for all things related to gaming.
The gaming community/culture encompasses writers, artists (like Steve and Becky Gilberts), gamers, collectors, role-players, filkers, and a whole host of like-minded individuals. The overwhelming spectacle of costumes, exhibits, games and activities takes four days to experience. Or at least do as much as possible. By Sunday, the body breaks down and almost everyone has “gamer’s cough”, that rasp from talking, laughing, partying, and gaming too much (while sleeping too little).

Of course there’s a hierarchy of nerds. Where would we be as a society and culture if we weren’t able to compartmentalize folks or better yet, rank them. Of course I consider myself in the upper echelon of nerdom (he who makes the list is automatically at the top). I’m good for a little Dungeons and Dragons, maybe a few games of Magic: the Gathering. I like my share of sci-fi shows. Star Trek (Deep Space Nine was the best. This isn’t even a discussion.) Babylon 5. Farscape. Dr. Who (Tom Baker and Christopher Eccleston – this isn’t even a discussion). So I’ll leave you with a few last Gen Con thoughts:

-Lucien Soulban was robbed at the ENnies!
-Seriously, spandex wasn’t made for everyone.
-Black nerds unite! (Cause we represented at Gen Con)
(And I may have one more follow up piece to the Gen Con Experience. I had to earn my free press pass.)

Gen Con 2008 IV: Christian Gamers Part II

Continued from Part I: The Sinister Minister and the Geek Preacher
Is this another way people can learn to minister to others through gaming?

Derek: We, as Christians, need to be social. We need to get outside the four walls of the church and be in our communities in every way. If you love to game, get out there and game. If you love to play golf, get out there and play golf with everybody else. Don’t segregate yourselves. We have ghettoized ourselves as a community and we need to break down the four walls, get out there, and be Christians and love people. And let them know we are Christians. Don’t just be a nice person. Let them know that “I’m a Christian and I’m going to love and care for you.” Do it in our games and do it in our every day lives.

Dave: Two stories about that. Seven years ago, I was living in an apartment and got a new neighbor. I was at work, my wife was helping them unpack, and said “oh, Dungeons and Dragons books. My husband used to play that kind of stuff. Fantasy’s not my genre and D&D; is not what I usually play, but I thought, “hey, it’s a way to get to know the neighbor.” And what was nifty was that on a Tuesday night, around 8:30, put the kids to bed, knock on the door and say “hey, how about we play for an hour.” That was really convenient. We got to know them really well and within five months, he started coming to church with me and he and his wife were baptized. He asked me if I would be the one who would baptize him and I was really honored.

But, a sadder story, is that a year and a half ago, a friend of a friend, who had just joined my game, died in his sleep. He was just 25 and it was real obvious that he wasn’t leading a godly life. But I was never able to bring up the topic of God to him. And the opportunity was closed. I decided from that point that anyone at my gaming table was going to know where I stand and if there’s any way that I can help, I will do that.

How can people better develop a sense of discernment when it comes to gaming?

Dave: I suppose the same way you develop discernment in any category: you learn by making mistakes. The only way to get good is to start off being bad.

Andy: I think prayer is key in everything that we do. When we’re trusting God to lead us, I think God will do that for us. And I think God will give us discernment even if we’re not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to have that discernment. If we’re trusting in Him, I think He comes through for us.

Derek: I’d add to it get a good education. We have so many people who are woefully ignorant about the origins of things. I am an uber-geek. At nine years old, I read Bullfinch’s mythology. So I understood when I read the D&D; books that this was based off Greek mythology. Many kids don’t have a good, classical education nor do their parents. Being married to a teacher makes me say this as well. So get a good education, have prayer, and the Bible better be central to a good Christian’s life in that. There’s no pat answer, you just have to work at it.

In light of all of the “what would Jesus do?” slogan, would Jesus game?

Dave: I think he certainly would. He sat and ate with “sinners”. He met the woman at the well and spoke with her. There’s a book called God Loves the Freaks (it’s the book centered on the site FansForChrist.org). In it, he takes the approach that Jesus approached everyone differently. He walks up to Zaccheus and says “hey, I’m going to have dinner at your house tonight.” And he talked to the wise young ruler, who was not all that wise, and said “I want you to give away all that you have and then come follow me.” He didn’t have any pat answers or pat approaches. He used people where they are as a way to get into their lives. And if Jesus was trying to minister to a gaming community, he would sit down and he would start gaming.

Derek: I would say that there’s not an easy answer to that question. I’m sure Jesus played games as a child. I’m sure He played games and used his imagination. A great book that I read was Christ the Lord by Anne Rice. Of course it was a fictionalized account of Jesus’ childhood but I think she does a great job of talking about some things.

But I also view Jesus’ life as His vocation. Jesus came for a purpose. So while He is fully man and fully God, I think sometimes we try to bring Jesus down to our level and that negates His vocation. What would Jesus do? Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. Jesus came to die on a cross to redeem an entire world that we might be resurrected and have new bodies and have a new life for all eternity with Him. When we ask ourselves those questions, we miss the central part of who Jesus is and that is the Redeemer of the world.

***

Gen Con 2008 IV: Christian Gamers Part I

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” –Proverbs 16:33

The Church has a lot in common with gaming, from arguing over which edition (version) to use to arguing over the minutiae of gaming rules. So on a related note, the Christian Gamers Guild, founded in 1996, is an online community of Christians who play games of all kinds. They believe that “Christians have too long allowed non-Christians to dominate the imagined world of role-playing, which was originally inspired by Christian men like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (not to mention Dante, John Bunyan, and John Milton). And that it’s time to be a creative force in role-playing and other forms of faming for the true author of all creativity and imagination, Almighty God Himself.”

The Christian Gamers Guild not only had a panel on what it means to be a Christian gamer, but also held a standing room only traditional church service: including hymns, a sermon, and communion. Reverend Derek White preached out of Galatians 2:14-16 about the branding of the church, that what should define it should be to remember the poor, to be inclusive, and to love.
I had the chance to sit down with Rev. White, a United Methodist Church pastor; Dave Mattingly, the president of BlackWyrm Games, the exectutive director of the Games Publishers Association, and vice president of the Christian Gamers Guild; and Andy Mathews, the art director for Hero Games (Derek and Andy pictured).
How did the Christian Gamers Guild get started?

Dave: It’s primarily a mailing list, people gathering together to talk about how their games affect their faith and how their faith affects their games. Various issues of how do you deal with evil in a role-playing game or magic; where do you draw the line between what is good/right, and what is a hobby.

At your panel, you discussed the idea of honoring God in gaming. What sort of issues are involved in that?

Derek: At its plainest, we should be honoring God in all aspects of our life. As long as you honor Him in everything that you do, you’ll honor Him in your gaming.

Dave: And this is not a hard line in the sand of “you have to do this” and “you have to do that”. If you feel uncomfortable doing a certain thing in a game then don’t do it. We went through the “weaker brother argument” which is where some people feel okay eating meat that was sacrificed to a pagan idol and some did not. So when you’re with your friends who don’t feel comfortable, then don’t eat that pagan-sacrificed meat around them. But when you’re by yourself or with other who feel like you do, then it’s fine. You can go ahead and, in a super hero game, send your heroes to hell and have them make a deal with a demon to get back home. As long as those around the table are all okay with it, then it works.

Why do you think the church, as a whole, has been hesitant to embrace gaming?

Dave: A lot of it came from the suicide of Irving Pulling in the early 80s. A woman had lost track of her son for two years and blamed gaming. It’s a long story, but to us it looks like a case of bad parenting rather than some books. He struggled with manic depression and had been off his medication, yet it wasn’t her fault, it was these “weird” games that must’ve done it.

Derek: To add to that, I think today more and more churches are becoming open to gamers. Not as much as we’d like, but for the church to survive, and to be true to the biblical text, it must be inclusive.
And to many more than gamers. And I think that’s the easiest way. “So you’re going to reject someone because you don’t like gaming?” My response has been “good, because I don’t like golfers.”

Andy: In a lot of ways, gaming suffered from some bad design decisions and bad press. Some of the early D&D; books—Fiends Folio, Dieties and Demi-gods—it would be easy for someone not ready for it to see that and think the entire game was slanted against Christianity. The fact that you can play evil characters rubbed my mother the wrong way.

Derek: Even though Gary (Gygax) said in numerous Dragon articles that you shouldn’t play evil characters. He put it there so that there could be a balance of the alignments so that the DM would have the evil characters. But Gary, the game’s creator, steadfastly referred to [D&D;] as heroic fantasy and that’s what he always wanted to see people do. Now don’t get me wrong, he didn’t mind seeing them take a bad path or a dark turn, but it would be like falling away and coming back.

How would you respond to people saying that magic is glorified through role-playing?

Derek: The first thing I’d do is laugh to be honest. I know people that I’ve talked to, that are friends, who are Wiccans or pagans and they laugh at the concept because their own view of these spells are so completely different. A lot of it was just Gary’s sense of humor. To say that it glorifies magic, I’d say “okay, then what about you guys that like to play Risk or Axis and Allies? Are you glorifying war? Or Monopoly … so you glorify greed?” It’s nothing more than a game. You glorify what you want to glorify.

Dave: One of the things we can do is show that evil does have consequences. The game master can say “okay, if you really want to torture your prisoner for information when there’s no real need to … you can do that but it will come back on you.”

Do you think there is a moral stumbling block to playing evil characters?

Dave: As a game master, we have to role play evil characters: we are all of the antagonists in one person. While the player characters play heroes. Sometimes we have to come up with sick, twisted characters and play them out in order to make our heroes shine more brightly.

Derek: I’d have to agree with that. But I’ve seen some people work through some issues playing evil characters. As I’ve run games, and I’ve had people want to play an evil character, sure I’ll let them do that because I like to tell a story and I want my game worlds to be consistent. They face the consequences of their actions. But I’ve also seen these people, some Christian, some adamantly not, want to turn their character around and want to make their character better. And sometimes I see people just go down this dark, dark path and I realized—as a friend, not as a minis
ter, but as a friend—that they were dealing with some issues in their own lives and they were trying to find an outlet in the game. The thing is, as a mature friend, what do I do? Do I condemn them or say “wait a second”? to me, it’s like any other game. When I was playing baseball with my brothers and I’d see my brother just pounding the ball it was just coming off, I knew my brother was angry about something. There’s always something going on.

That’s the good thing about the social aspect of a game, is that in the many games I’ve just played in as a player, other folks will come up to me and say “you know, his girlfriend just broke up with him.” It lets me see them as a real human being.

(to be continued)

Gen Con 2008 III: Flames Rising Interview

Flames Rising is an online resource for fans of Horror and Dark Fantasy entertainment. This horror fanzine offers reviews of Games, Fiction, Movies as well as interviews. The site took the Silver ENnie for the Best Fan Product category at the Gen Con 2008 ceremonies. I sat down with project manager/reviewer for Flames Rising—as well as horror and dark fantasy writer—Monica Valentinelli.

How did Flames Rising get started?

Flames Rising started out as a site dedicated to a vampire LARP. From there it grew into exploring all forms of gaming, including indie gaming and White Wolf. And from there, we started expanding the content into some industrial music with bands like Midnight Syndicate. After that we started really expanding our content, doing reviews for Tor, DAW, Permuted Press – big publishers, small publishers, even some self-published authors. Recently we started doing indie films. We recently got an indie film called The Beckoning which we reviewed for our site.

We continue to keep growing the content focusing on both the quality and market of the product. By keeping in mind the market, we strip away the branding of if it was an indie game or a larger budget project and focusing on the quality.

What are you trying to do in terms of reaching out to the horror community?

We always encourage interviews with names in the industry, whether they’ve worked on one specific project or multiples. We have a project going on right now that’s a horror design project, where, for example, we have a first time screen writer who is talking about what gave him the idea, who helped him put it together, how he got his start, and a little bit about what the movie is about. So it’s a little bit more about the design aspect of what goes into a horror movie rather than just a back cover promo for the movie. It’s a little bit more from the creators viewpoint which is really fascinating to a lot of our readers because they get a more intimate take of what horror is about.

We also like to tie in interviews to our reviews. One of the most recent interviews we did which we’re most excited about is with the guy who created Darkwing Duck, Tad Stones, who worked on the animated Hellboy films. He had the chance to talk about not only the two animated Hellboys that came out, but his experiences working with Mike Mignola, the creative staff, what it’s like for new people getting into the industry (he’s a long time veteran). And also about the status of the third animated Hellboy, which he had written himself.

Where do you see Flames Rising going in the next year? What would you like to see happen?

Well, a lot of it is dependent on where we can take the content, because we never want to lose the focus on where that content is going to go. We don’t want to sacrifice the content in terms of the larger scale stuff. We don’t want to scale that back but rather develop more of it and have this community where people feel like they can really review and get into the products and get excited about what they’re fans of and interested in. And to be able to share that with a community of readers.

How does it feel to bring home an ENnie?

We’re just very grateful. One of the things we’re very grateful for is anybody that has either “fed the fire” or “spread the flame” as we like to call it. This is not something that we’re doing to shine the spotlight on us. The whole reason behind Flames Rising is to shine the spotlight on other people and let them know what the cool products are that are out there. It’s really about the genre of horror as a whole, but focusing on ways people contribute to that. We’re about what goes into these products, the love and the passion. That’s why the indie gaming and independent publishers have been so important to us because they’re very passionate people—just as much as the large guys—but never get that exposure.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Gen Con 2008 II: Keep the d20s Rolling

How many Jedis can dance on the head of a lightsaber (or at least clog up the streets of downtown Indianapolis)? Look, a 100,000 gamers/fans, many of whom look like they haven’t left their basement since last year’s Gen Con descended on the convention center. Let’s just say that if a bomb went off down there, many computers wouldn’t be fixed for a long time.

Early standout booths include the Champions Online and Privateer Press (Monsterocalypse). And while some of the independent stuff has broken through, sometimes you just want to punch a Nazi and ride a dinosaur.

So anyway, we have a pod of whales. A murder of crows. A stink of gamers. You’d be a stink of gamers also if you went 24 hours with no sleep, no showers, and barely eating so that you can focus on playing games. Mind you, that’s 24 hours on the go for four days in a row. How serious do they take their gaming?

The 9′ x 5.5′ Sultan Gaming Table features a 4′ by 7.5′ sunken play space and stands 36″ tall and includes over a dozen drawers, book racks, drink holders, dice trays, a removable area for game mats, fold out desk sections, all done in sugar maple and black walnut. The price of this ode to nerd lust? $9650.

The ENnies were held Friday night. The awards were dominated by the big dogs (Wizards of the Coast, Green Ronin, Paizo, and White Wolf – each having their own theme music for accepting their award). Dungeon Cult Classic’s stuff is really sharp, bringing an old school feel back to gaming (adventures amounting to kicking down doors, killing everything in the room, and then taking everything not nailed down).

Robin Laws and Ken Hite, who took the silver in the Best Rules category for their Trail of Cthulhu (the gold going to the Star Wars Saga Edition by Wizards of the Coast), developed the gumshoe system which after having played it, one assumes that the only way investigative games should be run.

White Wolf’s rabid fanbase represented, but Paizo brought home the gold in the Fan Choice for Best Publisher.

Fairly new to the gaming circuit myself, I got into a conversation with Anthony Gallela about the difference between Gen Con and Origins:

Tell me a little bit about Origins.

Origins is a five day game convention and is the gamers’ game convention. Our focus is not on science fiction or any guests; it is on games and gaming. We have more role-playing than any other convention, we have more historical games than any other convention, and we have better offerings.

How is Origins different from Gen Con?

Origins is different from Gen Con in its focus. Gen Con focuses on a lot of things. Peter likes to say that he is throwing a party for his friends who are gamers. Origins focuses more on the gaming and the game play. One’s about the party experience the other is about the game experience.

What is the Game Manufacturers Association?

It’s a 501-3-6 non-profit trade association for the game industry. Table top game, publishers, manufactures, distributors, and retailers are all members of our association. Plus freelancers and other interested parties. As an association we put on Origins. As a consumer show we put on GAMA trade show. And we have a number of programs which advertise games, games and education, games for troops, we have free commercials which we give to retailers to use in their areas. We have credit card processing, health insurance, 401K, and other educational components.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Gen Con 2008 I: Diana Jones Awards

How does it feel to be the only black person in the room?

Business as usual, actually, but that was how I was greeted at the Eighth Annual Diana Jones Awards by my friends the lovely and talented Jesse Scoble and Lucien Soulban. The Diana Jones Award is an annual award created to publicly acknowledge excellence in gaming, from a game system or supplement, a magazine, a company, a designer, a convention, or a web site. The event itself is like trying to have the Academy Awards in the middle of the party.

Held in the Jillian’s bar, bars typically being where the business of conventions get done, I got to hang out with Matt Forbeck and founder of Wizards of the Coast (who launched Magic: the Gathering) and owner of Gen Con LLC, Peter Adkison (the conversation went something along these lines: me: “I’ve donated thousands of dollars to your cause.” Peter: “And I’ve gladly spent it.”) The announced winners were a tie between:

-Grey Ranks by Jason Morningstar from Bully Pulpit Games
-Wolfgang Baur and his Open Design projects

I spent the bulk of the evening trying to work out the various factions represented at GenCon. Card games. Role-playing games. Video games. Board games. Miniatures (after all, GenCon was originally a war-gaming convention). Massively multi-player online, the crack of the game industry (where a moderately successful game would have 150-200 thousand players, World of Warcraft has around 10 million players). Fluff vs. crunch writing. For that matter, trying to figure out the difference between game designers (rules and systems) and game writers (story and character) – though apparently there’s not much of a difference since there’s a lot of cross over between their roles.

This was the Gen Con pre-party, btw. Gen Con proper begins on Thursday. But it’s important to get acclimated early.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Gen Con 2007 Report

It’s that time of year when hordes of the devoted make their annual pilgrimage to nerd Mecca, that is, my very own Indianapolis and Gen Con. Now, before you’re too quick to make fun, during this madness we call preseason football, it’s ironic how Colts fans painted in blue can look at fantasy fans dressed as elves and think “some folks just take things too far.” Though there may be a hierarchy of nerds, fan devotion shows that they have a passion for something, though admittedly, some DO take things too far (thus why fans sometimes scare me).

This was my first Gen Con. Considering how many conventions I go to in a year, you’d think I’d actually attend the huge one in my own back yard. Already, Gen Con is Indianapolis’ third-largest convention, bringing nearly 27,000 people and $25.3 million to Downtown hotels, restaurants and shops. Gen Con stepped up to the challenge of replacing the E3 convention and is becoming a key stop in the multi-billion dollar videogame industry. Part trade show, part fan con, it has a strong writer’s track (after all, someone has to write the games and tie-ins. Plus, it’s always good to learn the politics in the writing game, the secret ins and outs of various companies).

(These pics courtesy of J.C. Hay)

[Mee aaand Mister, Mister (William) Jones] [J.C. Hay and William Horton]

That’s the business part of the con and I got a ton of it done. Special shout outs to my friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough: Lucien Soulban, J.C. Hay, Jesse Scoble, Tim Waggoner and Matt Forbeck. (The rest of the pics courtesty of Sheryl Hugill)
As for fans, yes, for some folks these kinds of cons are a way of life. It’s the rare place where a Star Wars ring tone goes off and a dozen folks check their phone. It’s where people can get together and filk in peace. Where else can you overhear conversations about orcs and werewolves? It’s for people who use web cams and Skype to run Hollow Earth Expedition – you know, exactly what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the Internet.

Gen Con is for game enthusiasts of all stripes: video, board, role-playing (including the live action (LARP) variety), and cards. And the multitude of folks in costumes: from Storm Troopers to Ghostbusters to Silent Bob to Jack Sparrow.
However, I don’t care how stylish you are dressed, you ain’t pimpin’ in elf ears.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.