Sunday, August 26, 2012

GenCon 2012 Report

This post is a little late, as I've arrived home from GenCon in Indianapolis a week ago, but I had to catch up on a few things in the hectic circus that is my life. Anyway, this is the fourth year in a row I've attended GenCon, and attendance seems to grow each year. A few things changed during this year's sojourn, however, some good and some not so good.

Like last year, I brought my girlfriend along. What I find uncanny is how she actually enjoys gaming and all of the juvenile geek crap I do. Finding a woman who'll tolerate your cartoon collection, library of RPG games, Xbox and other hobby paraphernalia indicating a state of perpetual arrested development is a sure sign things are meant to be. Geek girls are hot.

We stayed at a different hotel this year, one a little farther from the convention center, and had to take a shuttle. Other than the distant hotel, the thunder storm on the first night, my girlfriend tripping and hurting her hand and me not being able to connect with a few people I saw in previous years, GenCon was a blast. Agents of Oblivion, a spy/horror setting from Reality Blurs, was nominated for an ENnie, but didn't win, however attending the awards ceremony in a restored Victorian train station was awesome, not to mention seeing and chatting with friends from the gaming industry. Just being nominated was an honor, and I congratulate all of the winners and nominees.

We ate like hungry pigs. Indianapolis has a collection of superb restaurants, and our appetites were not disappointed. This year we dined at The Ram, the Old Spaghetti Factory, Harry & Izzy's and Buca di Beppo. Part of going to the convention is snagging good food and relaxing. I deftly accomplished both objectives.

Did I mention GenCon is the largest gaming convention ever?

The highlight was meeting Wil Wheaton and Nichelle Nichols. My celebrity encounters are rare, and I've wanted to meet Wheaton since his GenCon appearance in 2010, and this year I can confidently say I made that dream come true. Wheaton is the only man in the world who could wear a kilt and an octopus T-shirt and still garner undying accolades and respect from his legion of fans. He saw I wore my Reality Blurs polo shirt and immediately began complimenting the company's game lines, especially Agents of Oblivion and Realms of Cthulhu. I informed him about Ravaged Earth's second revised addition dropping later this year and he said he'd check it out. That brief conversation made the half hour wait in line totally worth it.

(It's also great to have a girlfriend with an iPad to record this momentous occasion for posterity.)

Saturday I attended the Pinnacle Entertainment Group's panel, where Savage Worlds licensees (like Reality Blurs) had the opportunity to discuss what products are in the pipeline. I plugged Ravaged Earth, and even showed some sample artwork and plot-point outline to a few people after the event. During Savage Saturday Night I ran my Ravaged Earth adventure, "Dutchman's Fortune" for six lucky gamers. The pulpy adventure had a treasure map to gangster Dutch Schultz's loot, which contained a Martian artifact. Our intrepid heroes had to battle Lucky Luciano's gangsters, break an inmate out of Sing-Sing Prison, collect two halves of the map, fight rocket marauders and a Martian spy before searching the woods in upstate New York. The grand finale really had them fighting for their lives against a supernatural menace.

I snagged some dazzling plunder this year which shall satiate boredom during those frigid winter nights. Deadlands: The Last Sons, Hell on Earth, Redneck Life, Star Trek Catan, Wench! and some really nifty metal dice.

The older I get, the more I lament my fleeting youth. Stuck in the doldrums of a perpetual grinding wheel existence, I find moments of levity among the things I enjoyed when I was younger. Now that I'm a middle-aged relic, I have the freedom to indulge myself in gaming, comic books, movies and other fanciful diversions. What used to be a blemish of shame is worn as a shining badge of honor. I'm happy in this geek life. As a game designer and creator, I'm fascinated with people's experiences playing RPGs, the characters they create, the hard-fought battles, the banter around the gaming table and the way a bunch of polyhedral dice sound when rolled. It's a world I entered late, but one where I'm most at ease. Thanks for making me feel comfortable, friends. To me, GenCon is family. One big, silly geeky family.

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