I’m back in sultry South Florida from Gen Con, sitting outside while a cool morning breeze blows through. I’m covered in a sheen of sweat but all things considered, it’s still nice out before the midday sun makes everything undoable. I’m smoking from my new rosewood pipe that I picked up in the dealer hall at the con. It’s filled with filled with Mountain Rose Herbs Smoking Blend, which is a great replacement for tobacco. I’ve also got a nice cup of mint tea sitting next to me and two cats sleeping nearby. In other words, the perfect setup to ruminate on my experience with the 2015 Gen Con.
I’m going to try not to talk about everything I did and just stick to the things that stood out to me. First among them, the Writer’s Symposium. I love the symposium and feel a strong connection with it, being an aspiring fiction writer myself. I tried to take some more advanced courses this time around since I’ve attended a pretty large selection of them at this point. I think Marc Tassin does an excellent job organizing the chaos and keeping everything on track. Maybe it was a fault of mine this year, but I feel like I missed out on some things that were going on that I would have liked to attend. Patrick Rothfuss’s World Builders was a major sponsor this time around and there was a World Builders/Writers Symposium party too, which would have been great to attend and have the opportunity to talk to people. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear about it until afterwards. I’d like to see a regular newsletter for the Writers Symposium that highlights events both during and around the Symposium… a little bit of marketing help could really push things to the next level and help attendees feel better informed. I’m also wondering if maybe the Symposium is growing larger than just the convention itself. I’m not suggesting that it split off or anything, but there may be opportunity for a year-round presence. It could be a central gathering place for writers in the community, a resource for those who want to take their writing to the next level, etc. It’s easy for me to say this I realize, having no responsibility in the matter, but just a couple of thoughts.
In general, most people whom I spoke with, had one or two events had they known about ahead of time, would have absolutely done. I guess it’s just the nature of the convention, which has grown dramatically in recent years. The volume of events is so huge that even the most fastidious eye scanning the program will miss things.
That being said, the two most enjoyable experiences I had at the con were events that I discovered through the recommendation of friends and word of mouth.
The National Security Decision Making Game folks hosted one of these events, called the Cuban Missile Crisis Game: At the Brink: Havana Paranoia. Thirteen players randomly selected roles of real-life Cuban and Soviet actors during the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I got Fidel Castro, which was an intimidating role to play, to say the least. All of the players have their own motivations they’re trying to fulfill and all game play is done by conversing, cajoling, scheming and arguing. That is to say, no dice involved. I’ve never thought much about games of historical recreation or alternate history, but after this experience, I may have to give it a second thought. NSDM does such a good job of keeping things moving without interjecting too much that even for an inexperienced player like myself, it was easy to get into and have a great time with.
The other event, similar in play in that it was more about interacting with people and figuring out their motives, was Two Rooms and a Boom. The premise is simple, there are two teams and two rooms. Players from each team are mixed in both rooms and no one knows immediately who is who. There’s a president, on the blue team and a bomber, on the red team. The red team is trying to make sure that the bomber is in the same room as the president at the end of the game, the blue team obviously, is trying to make sure that’s not the case. There are also other roles that take things to the next level, like a scenario where Romeo and Juliette first need to find one another and then need to find the bomber in order for them to win.
There were other events of course, but these were the real standouts for me. Some of the most fun I had came when I was just hanging out with friends that were there. I’m happy for the experience, it was another exciting con and I’m definitely struggling with some post-con blues. I hope all of you who went and are reading this enjoyed yourselves too, see you next time!