So the big 50th anniversary of Gen Con finished up a little over a week ago, and it was, well, another unique convention-going experience to me. The closest experience I could compare it to, predictably enough, would be last year’s Gen Con. But instead of manning a booth that was being non-stop slammed because I was selling someone else’s popular game, this time the booth was non-stop slammed because of my own game.
Since I wasn’t selling anything, I made a lot less money, but at the same time, the booth led to a lot more personal satisfaction this time around, because there were throngs of people interested in my stuff.
I don’t mean to be arrogant by saying this, but I seem to have become something of a board game celebrity, and the whole situation is still infinitely weird to me. If I didn’t have anything better to do, I could stand in front of my booth and just talk to people who walked by. It would be a gross exaggeration to say that everyone knew who I was, but there were enough people that as soon as I was done with one conversation, there would be someone else in front of me wanting to talk about Gloomhaven.
Now, I’m an introvert. I have mixed feelings about there being an infinite supply of people wanting to talk to me about something I created. It was fun to do it for a weekend, though. I enjoyed meeting so many different people and feeling a common bond with all of them. No matter who it was, I could ask them how many scenarios they’ve completed and suss out, at least in some small way, the story of their adventures with Gloomhaven. It was great to know that my creation had positively affected so many people.
Plus it made me feel like a rock star. Like I said, weird. I do not want to be a rock star, but it was interesting to be one for a weekend. At the end of the weekend, though, I was definitely ready to back to my normal life where I sit at a computer in my office by myself all day. Sometimes my wife hangs out with me. Sometimes there is a dog on the couch. That’s really all I need.
So, anyway, the other major difference between this year and last year is that, because there was nothing to sell and I recruited some stellar helpers to run most of the demos (huge shout-out to Price Johnson, Joe Levell, and Tim Peterson), I did have time to breathe a little bit – talk to people, go to the bathroom, and go to a lot of meetings.
Meetings might not sound like a lot of fun, but I ended up meeting some pretty big heroes of mine, which was just mind-blowing. People like Frank Heeren, publisher of my all-time favorite game, Terra Mystica, and Tyler Sigman, lead designer of Darkest Dungeon, my favorite video game of the last few years. Nothing will quite compare, however, to going out to dinner with Vlaada Chvatil, my absolute favorite game designer (Paul Grogan was also there). Truly, I could not have asked for more than that.
Still, all these meetings and demos and events did cut down on good old game playing time. Of course, I tell myself that this a “working con” and not a “playing con,” and not to expect to play many games, but that still leads to disappointment when, at the end of the weekend, I realize I’ve only played 5 1/2 games the whole convention and two of those were social deduction games. And then that disappointment is compounded when all the media reports start coming out, talking about all the great many games everyone else was able to play.
Still, I got a chance to hang out with all my favorite convention friends, even if it was only briefly, so I am definitely grateful for that. Part of me just wishes the convention were longer, but then I remember how tired I was on Sunday. Maybe I’d rather not worth a booth, but then I remember all the wonderful fans I met over the week. I guess Gen Con was about as good as it could possibly be, given what it is. We can’t get everything from a single convention, but that’s all right, because there are many conventions throughout the year.
In fact, at the end of the week, I am heading off for a little vacation in Seattle to go play at PAX West. I’m not attending in any official capacity. I’m just hoping to have a good time attending a crazy, over-crowded convention as a bystander and playing as many games as I can. Should be fun, and hopefully I’ll come back next time with some stories of that!