I should preface this by noting that I’ve never been to GenCon before. Boarding the plane and flying out from Denver, I was a little worried that I had become too jaded of an adult to enjoy a convention; that by having not attended as a child, I had squandered the real magic of the event. I drank my coffee, marveled at a thunderstorm outside the plane window, and wondered if the awestruck child in Harley could ever be recaptured.
Foolish, foolish, boy.
This year Wizards/Hasbro is pushing the latest edition of Axis and Allies. The first thing you see when you walk into the showroom was a battlefield
complete with tanks, jeeps, an army bunker and the ruins of a three-story bombed out church, smack in the center of the arena.
Impressed with the replicas, I reached beneath one jeep and … peeled off some rust.
a diorama. Wizards had brought in actual tanks and jeeps and bunkers
to the city center of Indianapolis. For a game
It only got bigger from there.
Entire ballrooms dedicated to war gaming. 24-hour anime rooms. Easley, Elmore and all the new 3.5 artists chatting with fans and selling original artwork. Shaking hands with Phil Athans at the Salvatore signing (and Phil sneaking us out some freebies!). Sitting with Dave Arneson at my signing (photos coming). And seeing the hundreds of cutting-edge games being demo’d on every side.
I’d love to say that I walked in and owned the place. After all, I'm a "published" game designer right? I was the one doing the signing.
The naked truth was that I walked in and was awed into a gibbering idiot. In Northern America it just doesn’t get any bigger than this.
Ignore all the hype. GenCon is bigger than any hype.
If you ever plan on coming, come for weekend. Even if you are only an incidental gamer, there is too much to see to do it all in a day. Otherwise, you just won’t sleep. (Maybe you won’t sleep either way, but it is worth giving yourself the chance.) I spent 16+ hours in the con, didn't see a single seminar, barely hung out with Ed, Lara, Jeff or Marisa, and still
didn't have the time to see everything.Personal Highlights
-Meeting Jaleigh Johnson
, up and coming Wizards novelist, at my “signing.” (I still owe you one. Just when you least expect it …)
-Seeing people actually buying
something I’ve written. Boggle.
spend the first bit of his Wizards advance on his fiancé.
-Spending time with the Goodman Games
crew. They treated me (and my friends) like VIPs even though we were nobodies. That’s pretty darn impressive.
-Chatting with Dave “I co-authored Dungeons and Dragons” Arneson.
-The mysterious El Presidente.
-Seeing the reprint of my Zeitgeist Games
-Riding through downtown Indianapolis hidden in the bed of a home-brewed pickup truck.
-Cheering every time Goodman Games was mentioned during the The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
-Hanging out with Ruth and Jess
from the Rich Burlew (a.k.a. Order of the Stick) booth.
Big Deathy shoutouts are due to whole casts of folks, but the music is already playing, so I’ll try to keep it short. Big Deaths to Goodman Games & Zeitgeist Games, Ed, Lara, Jeff, Marisa, Phil, Dave, Jaleigh, and anyone who bought a module or source book. Thank you!
The biggest, Deathiest shoutout goes to Alex Anderegg
, who acted as my personal guide, chauffer, bodyguard and all around “Did you just see that?!” man. He also was extremely tolerant of the mysterious El Presidente. You can’t ask much more of a friend.
Alex dropped me off at the airport on Sunday, but my plane had been overbooked. Like a castle falling from the sky, my weekend was about to get real ugly.
I dashed down to the gate only to find I had been bumped up to first class. As we jetted out of Indy, I toasted the city's skyline with my free wine and marveled at the magic of this life.
Was it worth dropping writing for a 36 hour, no sleep, geek frenzy weekend?
I'm already booking my flight for next year, and I hope to see you there. Wizards Cabal
On a much, much lesser note, Zeitgeist Games released some of my fiction in their first source book. You’ve probably read it already, but it is always nice to see it in print.