Playing at Cons

So Brand and I have signed up for Camp Nerdly, and have every intention of going to Gencon this summer barring, you know, random acts of India or whatnot.

This is where I make my first confession: I’m a con virgin. I’ve not been to a single, solitary one. I was asked, years ago when I was writing for Tribe 8 to come to Conthulhu in Toronto and sit on a panel for Women in the “Industry” but I quickly declined. I’ve never really been big into fandom on that kind of scale, and the excitement of cons was pretty lost on me.

This is where I make my second confession: Cons scare the jebus out of me. Though my self of early 90’s theatre geekiness would be shocked to hear me say this, the truth is that I’m really a big introvert. When I think of a convention hall with milling people everywhere, a bazillion hours of small talk and non stop 24/5 interaction without a quiet, thinky space to retreat to? I get a little woogy. I like me the small nooks and long conversations over dinner, not the frenetic chaos of the con floor. Besides, I used to say, I’m never going to even talk to those people again, so why should I bother?

But then, I started getting into design, and talking to all of you freaks, and started thinking that meeting people would be a very good thing. Also, I started thinking about releasing a game, and about coming out to represent what I’ve produced and this made approaching the idea of going a lot more palatable, even… exciting. But, when Gencon came around last year, I was on the other side of the world, so that turned out not to be so possible.

This is where I make my third confession: I know that one of the things that make you all most happy about going to cons is the games that you get to play together, and I want to feel like that too, but deep down I know that cons produce an atmosphere of play that is pretty antithetical to produce the kind of play I like, or want most, or want to exhibit to others. This is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Nerdly before I go to Gencon.

Nerdly’s got less going on in general: there’s a max of seventy people all there to concentrate on one thing. There won’t be thousands of random people from other fandoms contributing to the chaos at Nerdly. There won’t be shifts of demoing games and working the booth that will inevitably drag out all my best socializing energy before I actually get around to the socializing. There will be things like communal cooking and non-gaming group activities and such that build a better sense of community. People will be there with their partners and their kids, which will foster a better sense of them as whole people. Plus, there’s three days dedicated to just that kind of easy socializing and to games, which means even if I don’t get to play where I normally play, there’s a good chance that I’ll get to play closer to it than I will at Gencon.

And while again, this wasn’t the post I meant to write, this time it’s brought me right to the doorstep of the one I did mean to: Intimacy and the Impassioned Other.

8 thoughts on “Playing at Cons”

  1. I like me the small nooks and long conversations over dinner, not the frenetic chaos of the con floor.

    I’m with you there. I don’t really do well in large crowds of people. Dreamation was a great size for my first convention, because there was a lot of opportunity for the small nooks and long conversations.

  2. I’ve never been to GenCon, but we go to DragonCon every year. It’s sort of an anything and everything con, not gaming focused at all. I’m extremely introverted and shy, but being in the big crowds is easy. I love it. It’s those little nooks that scare the hell out of me. You know, the intimate part. That’s the part I have to work at, and that’s the part that one needs when gaming when strangers. I enjoy the hell out of game demos but when it comes to actually playing in 4 hour sessions (or more), I don’t get it. What’s the point? I can’t satisfy my play urge with so little. A gamist tournament style thing, I can do that. And enjoy it, if it’s done well and is extremely gamist. But even then, I’m left wondering why. With so many people around and so many interesting things to do: why would I spend hours doing something I could do without paying out the bucks to be at the con. I’m not saying those things are wrong, just that they don’t seem right for me. And that seems unusual.

    1. I wonder the same things at short one-shots. I find though if I look at them more like boardgame activities, more like low impact, relax-y fun than an RPG, I like them better. Also, I suspect that the chance to observe the interactions that people (who I know from the community but have never met) have with others will provide interest all it’s own.

      What’s the so many things to do?

      1. Parties. Concerts (Cruxshadows, Voltaire). Drum Circle. Costumes aplenty. Wandering about being freakish with all the other freaks. Shopping during the day. That sort of stuff.

  3. You can definitely have both kinds of experiences at Gen Con. There are so many different types of games to be had.

    The demos are fast and frenetic in some ways, but, really, they’re a welcome break from walking around the convention floor with all the noise and bustle. Sitting down and focusing on one thing for a while can feel relaxing.

    And then there’s the Games On Demand table, which is a further step down in the frantic level.

    And then there’s scheduled games.

    And then, best of all, there’s the after-con play in the Embassy Suites lounge or in people’s rooms. That’s where the real intimacy happens. That’s where you hang out with people who’ve known each other for years and are often on the same page about roleplaying.

    So yeah. Nerdly may be a welcome introduction, but it’s not really a con in a traditional sense. But I’m sure you’ll love it all. Well, maybe not all of Gen Con, but it’s hard to really love ALL of Gen Con.

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