GenCon 2012 Recap
Like many in the RPG biz, I’d enjoyed an awesome 4 days of gaming in Indy at GenCon 2012. It is very much the Mecca of the roleplayer’s experience and I’m always happy to be involved. This was my second year with a booth and I know a lot more face this year than normally, which is always good.
I flew in Wednesday around 2:30 and made my way promptly to the Convention Center. Let me tell you, this was no small feat. My luggage was 90% stuff for the booth, which weighed it down immensely. On top of that, the convention center has awesomely soft carpet. This, of course, made it harder to wheel my heavy-ass baggage to the convention. I had to stop quite a few times for breathers, but i eventually made it.
I met up with the awesome John D. Kennedy who helped me set up my booth and get everything ready. By this point I’m still stressing about the little things, trying to adjust the booth constantly in an effort to get it “just right”. Though, there is no such thing, so we went with what we had. I brought a lot fewer t-shirts this year and had a table added. Mermaid Adventures definitely rounded out the display and really helped to bring it to life, another advantageous thing for me to note.
I got to say hi to my friend Clint and Jodi Black, as well as Bethany and Trinity Black, and pass Shane Hensley on his way to a taxi. Jim and Eric of Studio2 Publishing are also always a welcome site. Their presence means GenCon can’t be far behind. Brandon Aten introduced me to his wonderful wife before being called off abruptly by Kevin and I got to say hi to Amy Ashbaugh and Juan Baez (my stalkers). I’m sure I’ll be meeting up with lots of new people this year, but it’s fun to see familiar faces as well.
After I was done setting up the booth, I went to Steak n Shake for a burger and fries before chillaxing (people still say that, right?) in my room for a bit. I’ve never actually seen Big Brother, so it was interesting. Can’t say i’m a fan.
Then it was time for a game. I met up with Mario Dongu, Dan BLANK, and Chris Perrin for a game of Fiasco, and finally got to try out the wild west set. We were also joined by Jason of mysterious origins and curly hair (rivaling that of Eddy Webb, but shorter). I played Lily, a madame bent on power and money, and it got very emotional and dramatic at the table, even with as conservative we were playing the game. I’ve played some CRAZY Fiasco games and this one was no exception.
Thursday was a whirlwind of activity. First day of the con, working the booth, selling the games and it all just kind of buzzed by. I did run an amazing Wu Xing game for 3 players. Funny thing, first day of the con… no one knows where anything is at. So I had 3 players who actually signed up for the game, but they didn’t show. It was a good thing that I had 3 others with generics that were primed to play and it was probably one of the better Nobleman’s Daughter adventures i’ve run, simply because everyone was excited to be playing it.
What followed after that was customer after customer, some interested, others not so much, but that’s how the game is played. I talked to a lot of people and anyone that knows me at GenCon, my voice started to go on the fritz.
After the dealer room closed, though, I met up with Jeff and Mario from the GamerChickShow and hung out. I got to meet Ed and Amanda from the show too and it was crazy how much it really felt like I was in the middle of the GamerChickShow group. Wisecracking and lots of in-jokes to follow, but it was cool cause they made me feel like one of them. VERY AWESOME PEOPLE! We played games well past the time any of us should have been sleeping.
A long walk back to my hotel room proved to be worth it, and I zonked out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Now Friday I remember. Got to the booth and got to work. It was a busy day, full of activity and it was a blast. Pete and Dan Heaton (the Heaton Bros) came to help out at the booth and they are great! If you don’t know Pete, check out the credits for Demon Codex: Lochs and the new API Worldwide: South America. And yes! We got copies of South America in on Friday and quite a few copies of that sold almost immediately.
I don’t know what it is about Fridays, but they always seem to flow really well. The booth ran smoothly, the Part-Time Gods game I ran was really great with all 6 players really digging my adventure that i’ve run a thousand times. STILL the players keep surprising me with how to manipulate the Dominions of the pregenerated characters in cool ways that I hadn’t thought of. Colt Bastion’s player stole the show when he used the sound from a riot in the streets below his downtown loft to work out the chords to his new song he had been working on. That was classic.
Right before close, one of the most amazing things happened. A woman who I sold a copy of Mermaid Adventures to on Thursday came back by with her adorable 7-year-old who went to tell me “I love you game” in the cutest and shyest voice ever. She then went on to tell me how she’s planning a game night with 5 of her friends and how she can’t stop looking at all the great art (Thanks Melissa Gay!). That’s exactly what I wrote that game and it was just confirmation that it is a worthwhile product to have out there. The hobby needs more like it!
Then came the Ennies. I’m not going to parrot everything that you can probably just read on their web site, but the cocktail hour was really fun. I got to meet a lot of the other Gnomes of Gnome Stew. For some reason, I thought they’d be smaller. I ran into and got to hang with Kurt Wiegel for bit. We’ve been penpals for a bit now. Nicest man in the world. Long talks with Phil Vecchione, who I actually met at GenCon, so that was a blast. Biggest shock in terms of awards was Savage Worlds winning Best Game. I’m so proud of my friend with Pinnacle!
After that, me and my dream date were supposed to go and record an episode of Rolling 20s. BUT remember that thing about my voice going. Yeah, it was in rare form and not in recording condition. So, i ended up hanging out in th Embassy Suites and I met Gregor Hutton, creator of 3:16, who is another really awesome guy. Loved his accent. Then I talked shop with Chris Perrin until I was ready to pass out again. Then I did.
Saturday was another crazy day. Woke up early and ate a quick breakfast in the Embassy Suites. They give you eggs and potatoes everyday and it was getting old by Saturday. But it was free, so whatever. Anyway, Showing up to work Saturday, I was excited and ready to go crazy on this day. It seemed slightly slower than last year though. And I had figured it out by the end of the day… my booth was set up in a weird way that didn’t make us stand out. Let that be a lesson to anyone with a booth at GenCon = booth arrangement is a big deal. I’ve learned so much that will help me for next year.
I ran my Part-Time Gods game at noon, filled with everyone that was supposed to be there (which was pretty awesome). Crazy part was, only one of the players hadn’t read the book already. That made the game WAY more fun, since most everyone was familiar with the material. And the new guy was a quick learner and ended up being voted MVP by the rest of the players by the end of it. He got way into the character and did an amazing job.
I came back to the booth and found out there were tons of messages for me and a stack of business cards. The little girl who loved Mermaid Adventures, her name was Mave, also came by to show me her awesomely cute pikachu costume. I think I have a new friend for life. The rest of the day went well enough though. When the dealer room closed, I had had a quick hot dog (more on that later) and made plans to hang with the GamerChickShow crew again. This time, however, we played a couple of board games. First was TeleStrations, which is a mix of Telephone and Pictionary. Lets just say I went and bought a copy for myself the next day. The second game we played was 4 Taverns, which was also REALLY fun. Didn’t have the money to drop it at the con, but i’m thinking I will soon.
At the same time as all my board game fun, my man Ron Ringenbach was running API Savage Worlds during Savage Saturday Nights. I was crossing my fingers that it went well, since I had the book on preorder at the show.
Even though this was supposed to be the slowest of the days, it was on par with the others in terms of sales, so that made me pretty happy. This was my solo day and it was made that much more horrible by the various intestinal emergencies I had (remember that hotdog). It was also the day that I had a lot of my friends and colleges come by and say goodbye. It was so nice to hang with everyone I got to see. After breaking down the booth and packing up, I did a little trading with other booths and then dropped 6 copies of Mermaid Adventures at the Ennies Booth. Score!
The IGDN Dinner followed after that, where I got to meet Greg and Thomas who make the ARC card game (amazingly fun) and met Brennan Taylor’s children for the second time in less of a rushed fashion. There were talks about new games we were working on, filling everyone in on the games we already did and talks about My Little Pony and the future of IGDN. We have good stuff to come. Best part is that on top of the amazing conversation and lots of fun, I had a coupon to get everyone 20% off their order and a ton of points on my TGIFridays membership. Just saying.
After that, we adjourned to the Embassy Suites once more to hit up some late night gaming. We tried out the ARC card game (again, really awesome) where me and Dan got to take down Lilith and Mario. It was a blast. I also got to learn some more of card design and how packaging and pricing works for card games. Very informative. When we were done, the ARC crew (me, Llillithlly, Mario and Dan) all sat down to play a sped up version of Our Last Best Hope. With most of us at the table having backed the game, it was perfect and it is damn good.
I am not without learning experiences. I learned what good booth arrangement can do. I learned that me running games at the con is a big deal, since I had several of my players come by and tell me it was their favorite thing they’d done all weekend. So, i’ll start doing that more. I learned that Mermaid Adventures DOES have a place in the market and people are hungry for more thing they can do with their kids. I learn the power of a group of indie designers versus going it alone out there. I learned that just having a presence at GenCon is enough to catapult you… even they just remember your face, they remember something about you. I had a lot of people who I went up to and they actually knew who I was already, so it’s a sign that I am growing, my name is getting into peoples’ ears and my games into their hands.
Keep an eye out for an episode of Rolling 20s with me and my Dream Date, Jason Pitre, as we talk about our Gencon experiences and what it takes to develop and playtest a good game.
Until next time.