Friday, August 5, 2011

Open Friday: Conventions

I'm not a big attendee of conventions. I've been to both Origins and GenCon once each and have attended a couple of small, local gatherings in various cities over the years, but, in general, con-going isn't my thing. I've long suspected that most gamers, even fairly devoted ones, don't attend conventions with any regularity, even ones in their own cities.

So, here's my question: if there's a sizable, well established convention that occurs regularly in your home city, do you attend it?

43 comments:

  1. We have a small, struggling to be well established (6 years running with one missed year) here in Montreal and I definitely attend it. As one of the organizers, I find it bizarre that gamers don't attend cons. There is so much goodness there. Awesome chance to try new stuff and just hang with your community. So much weird reluctance (which I think stems from the general demographic lack of social skills in our community) which turns into unbridled enthusiasm after we finally get them through the doors.

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  2. Never been to DragonCon, and don't plan to start. It's probably me, but I just have a hard time coming to grips with arranging time off from work around attending a gaming convention. I'd rather go elsewhere with the family. If the desire to do other things with my free time didn't dissuade me, coverage of the event by local news would.

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  3. Nope, I don't, plain and simple. While I'd be interested to see new product and maybe meet a few industry people, I'm not star-struck enough to be that bothered. I don't fancy convention games either. So braving the perils of a con', with the expense and nuisancee involved just doesn't appeal to me.

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  4. I was at the first Northtex convention and it is like jumping back in time to Gygax's basement, but in a decent hotel. You walk around with the legends of gaming, sit down for some great adventures and hang out.

    I've been to plenty of conventions and this isn't the same thing. You are there and you realize this is a part of something special and historic, and an amazing good time.

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  5. Here in Adelaide, Australia, there is a dearth of cons. So much so that myself and a friend decided we needed to organise one ourselves *cough*CONFORMAT*cough*. Speaking from the perspective of a city that lacks a decent con, and is a looong way away from the cities that do have one, I'd think carefully before giving up on the ones you've got.

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  6. There is a local one (Con-Quest I think) but I have never really enjoyed cons or shows as we used to call them in the UK. I have never attended my local one even though I could walk there and back in less than twenty minutes, it just doesn't appeal.

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  7. Yes and no. I regularly go to the two comic book cons here in the Twin Cities (Springcon and Fallcon) and I recently went to CONvergance which is like a big pop culture stew--including a great deal of gaming.

    Not yet been to Con of the North the traditional gaming con, but I hope to make it there soon.

    I'm not sure I get the comments about "celebrities" for being a reason not to go. To me the reason you go anywhere with like-minded people is exactly that--to hang out with people who have similar interests. I suppose celebrities are a draw, but I think most people want to go do stuff together that they enjoy.

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  8. Here in LA we have three: Gamex, Gateway, and Orccon. They're all held down by the airport, which is the reason I don't go; it's too close to warrant staying at the hotel, but driving to LAX and finding parking is too much of a pain. Oddly, distant cons, such as a GenCon or DunDraCon are much more attractive to me.

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  9. You know, I don’t even know if there are still any local cons. Whenever I’ve looked at them, the web site and list of events usually fails to get me excited.

    Instead I drive to the metroplex once a year for the North Texas RPG Con, which is a real blast. I’ve never been a regular con goer, but I’m becoming a regular there.

    I’d like to hit some of the minicons around here too, but the timing generally doesn’t work out.

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  10. Yes, there is one in Ottawa called CanGames (http://www.cangames.ca/) which I could never seem to attend because of the date. There is also Gamesummit (http://www.gamesummit.ca) which I recently started going to with my kids, and I have to say I'm a CONvert. Conventions are a great way to try new games and meet great gamers.

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  11. So, here's my question: if there's a sizable, well established convention that occurs regularly in your home city, do you attend it?

    Absolutely: one of the reasons that I find conventions so much fun is that I love to try out new games that I can't find at home, or that my home groups don't otherwise have an interest in playing. Conventions are risk-free ways to experiment with new RPG systems and new styles of games (wargames, board games, etc.).

    I attended my first game convention at about 10 years old, and have loved them ever since. The NYC-NJ-PA-DE-MD corridor was rife with regional and national conventions in the early- to mid-1980s, ranging from Origins and GenCon East, to Northeaster Con, EastCon, and many others. I didn't attend the "real" GenCon in Milwaukee until the 1990s, when I'd moved to Lawrence, Kansas, for grad school. There was a thriving convention scene in the greater KC area, too (KUGAR---KU Gamers and Roleplayers---was the world's largest RPGA club for awhile, and sponsored KULCon for a few years, and ThunderCastle games sponsored a number of KC cons, of which ShaunCon is the only surviving one today IIRC). Then when I late moved to the SF Bay Area, I attended DunDraCon, KublaCon, and other regional shows---and that scene was very reminiscent of NJ in the early '80s, with multiple annual game conventions within driving distance. Heavenly! :D I currently enjoy attending the Lake Geneva Gaming Con (now succeeded by GaryCon), the North TX RPG Con, and most-recently the SoCal MiniCon #4; if time and finances permitted, I would absolutely attend the Toronto RPG Con that you're putting on James, as well as FalCon in CT; and I'm sure that I'll manage to work out a visit to NJ again when DexCon is going on, to run some Castle Greyhawk in tandem with Joe Bloch.

    I think that the decline of the smaller, regional conventions has a played a significant role in the shrinking of the RPG market over the years (among other factors, of course: it's not causal, but certainly contributing). These are gateways into the gaming culture, and also act as rallying points for our smaller publishers, and we certainly need more of them!

    Allan.

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  12. There are several in Phoenix where i live, none that are completely gaming anymore that i recall, but all of them have sizable gaming sections, most of them run by friends of mine. I go to one or two a year, typically the ones that have people i'm interested in seeing or meeting, but i rarely game. Why? Cause gaming at a con just doesn't feel the same , i have a hard enough time inviting new people to play with my group, let alone playing with a bunch of strangers with completely different ide4as about how the game should be played.

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  13. Yes. Rice University's Owlcon has been around since the 70s and regularly pulls over 700 attendees. My Tuesday night crew includes a bunch of the organizers, so I'm fairly involved with it, just by osmosis. Typically, I use it as an opportunity to run games I can't get off the ground with my regular groups. It's a great way to recharge my GMing batteries.

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  14. I'm far too introverted to attend cons. The very thought of it makes my skin crawl. It's too bad, because I'd love to get in to the dealer's room at GenCon, but I wouldn't otherwise participate in the con, and could, therefore, never justify the expense of the trip.

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  15. I go on and off to Origins. Depends on what my money situation is like at the time. Mostly just to buy out of print stuff, but I used to play in demo games and once I played Fading Suns with the author.

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  16. I've been attending and/or working convention, large and small, since 1989 or so. For 9 of the last 10 years, I've been at Origins, which I love because I can try new games before I buy them, as well as being able to find older games to play or purchase, and see some friends who I only get to see at Origins. While I went by myself at first, it has become a family vacation that my wife and kids look forward to.

    The smaller cons are fun for me as well, as the events and scope aren't so...overwhelming (which of the 439 cool options do I pick?). Plus, I get a chance to introduce younger gamers to role-playing (via the Marvel RPG).

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  17. I've been going to Con of the North for 3 or 4 years now. It's a bit crowded, but there's pretty much every kind of gaming there one could think to find.

    Sometimes I just walk around and stare at the really nifty miniatures some people bring.

    Definitely a good time.

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  18. My city has a couple now (Cancon & Phenomenon) and no, i don't regularly attend, but have once or twice.

    My gaming interests just don't seem to match up to what is on offer there.

    I honestly feel more isolated from the main gaming community after having attended.

    If I ever go again it will just be to run a game to try and hook some new players, should my current group somehow disintegrate but apart from that I can't see myself going back.

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  19. Went to LGGC for three years in a row. That’s about it.

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  20. Yes of course. I love going to conventions and I'm usually engaged in running games (story games/indie games/dirty hippie games for most part).

    In Umeå were I live there have been two local conventions (SävCon and SnöKon) which have drawn around a hundred attendants each. For the last few year SnöKon, which used to be the bigger convention, has been on ice sadly.

    I've been attending Sweden's biggest gaming convention (outside of huge LAN-events) in Gothenburg as well which is a 12+ hour trip with the train. For me, it's usually totally worth it.

    Most people I game with at conventions show up stoked and eager to play, and playing with new people often leads to a few pleasant surprises.

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  21. I love conventions, and the Seattle area hosts ~20/year at last count, if you include all the "fan" cons and annual club game days. (There are a lot of game clubs out here.) I haven't been to Gencon in over a decade, but I hit at least three large cons per year and as many of the small ones as I can fit into my schedule. All miniatures and RPGs for me; no interest in comics, anime, and other fan cons.

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  22. I have a pretty vigorous schedule of Cons both local and regional at this point. Dragonflight is the granddaddy of general gaming cons here in Seattle, and I've been going (more on than off) since the early 90s. A few years ago we added Conquest NW and I attend that as well. Go Play NW is a minicon focused on Story Games which is into its 5th year and growing every year. Then I head down to Portland for Gamestorm (also general gaming), and up to BC for Bottoscon (wargaming minicon). In recent years I've been trying to sample the national cons as well, first Gen Con, then Origins last year, and this year it'll be BGGCon. I love trying new games, and meeting new gamers, and highly recommend the con experience to anyone.

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  23. Yes. Yes, I do.

    When I was 13, I found a listing for the Ohio State University's club con, set within a week of my 14th birthday. I badgered my dad into taking me, and I loved it! I was addicted to that con until it closed down. The fact that it was always near my birthday helped. I used that con to get my annual fix of miniatures gaming and to buy rare stuff from Crazy Egor. By going there, I got to know a wide variety of local gamers, at least by face and game.

    Columbus is the home of Origins, and I have been attending nearly every year. One of my favorite board-wargames is GDW's Europa, and its successor owners used to have a big presence there. I went to play with people that I had only corresponded with in a 24-hour room and hobnob with the designer and staff. They haven't done that in a long time, so I've transferred my group loyalties to the Star Fleet Battles crew. I also go to play old RPGs, like AD&D and Twilight:2000, that I can't play with my regular group. I still get to see a large crowd of players only once a year, even one of my high-school crowd.

    I've also started attending two small cons (spring and fall) which are near my in-laws, scheduling visits for my sons to see grandparents and they don't miss me or my wife for a day. These are much smaller than Origins, but have the friendly feel that I miss from CapCon.

    Columbus also hosts Buckeye Game Fest, strictly boardgames, in the fall. I only go for some of this one anymore.

    Someday soon, my sons might be old enough to take the GenCon plunge, if we can convince the purse strings to loosen enough. Note that all of the above don't require hotel rooms, while Gencon would be a major price increase for us.

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  24. I went once in Dublin back in 1990 when D&D was still big news. I enjoyed the atmosphere and strange feeling that so many weirdos were having fun without the cops showing up but the games were so appalling I vowed never again to admit in public that I play D&D.

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  25. I've played in some terrible convention games (One run by the author of my favorite CoC supplement. What a letdown.), but I've also played in some brilliant games over the years, where the adventure was good and the group just "clicked."

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  26. Generally no. I've been to GenCon, Origins and others in the past, but these days I prefer my gaming to every Saturday at one of my favorite local restaurants with 20 to 40 other gamers in attendance.

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  27. I have a steady, regular group, so I would probably rather go to Vegas for a weekend than a So Cal con. At least at the Mirage Casino I am surrounded by hot chicks, some of whom even talk to me (mostly the drink waitresses down by the slots who I tip well).

    I see a lot of people at Cons that make me wonder what is wrong with me for having this hobby. I try to avoid that kind of self doubt. Nothing can trump a decent regular group of hand picked people to play with. Not trying to sound elite or anything, but when it comes to sitting down with people for several hours I really don't like the Forrest Gump chocolate box method of find playmates. Usually does not go well for me.

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  28. Anthony: please, please, please share a bit more on that. Please!

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  29. I've been playing D&D (and a few other rpgs) regularly since 1987 or so and have never been to a con.

    Most of the fun of gaming for me is getting together with friends. I'm fortunate enough to have had at least one regular weekly game for most of the 20+ years I've gamed.

    I just don't see the fun in paying a bunch of money to drive across the country to play a game that may or may not be fun when I have a good game on a weekly basis here in my home town.

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  30. In St. Louis, MO, I try to attend Archon every year. While it is primarily a sci-fi/fantasy convention, they do have a dedicated gaming track and that is where I spend most of my time. My friend who GMs the Rolemaster game I play in attends as well. There are other local conventions (like DieCon, and Winter War isn't very far away), but Archon is the only one I go to for whatever reason.

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  31. Sadly, as far as I know, there aren't all that many gaming Cons in my general area. (It's also possible there are a number of smaller ones going on that I'm not even aware of). It seems odd to me that there aren't any big regular gaming Cons in the Mid-Atlantic region.

    There is a smaller one that seems to be trying to get established that I've heard about for the past two years that I may try to attend next year if I can. I've never been to a gaming convention but more and more I"m thinking I'd like to try it. I'd love to go to GenCon or Origins some day but I'm just not sure I'll ever really be able to make the trip...

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  32. It's not a gaming con, but a sci-fi fantasy literature one called Balticon, and I go every year!

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  33. Haven't been to anything local because they haven't had any old school offerings. I have been to Gary Con, NTRPG Con and SoCal MiniCon and had a good time at each though, so the con experience itself doesn't automatically turn me off. Of course, I knew several other attendees at each so that definitely helps.

    As grodog says, cons are an easy way to try out a new game or see some othef DM styles and tricks. Yes, some attendees are total losers you'd never want to hang out with in public, but I have met a lot of cool folks as well. Overall, definitely worth it for me.

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  34. I've gone to DunDraCon annually for the last 26 years or so. I've been to 11 GenCons and 4 Origins and a few small cons. If I could afford it, I'd go to manny more each year, but as it is, the last 4 years have been just DunDraCon.

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  35. In high school I attended some local cons, and then recently (15 years later) I gave it another shot. All it did was justify the reasons I stopped attending in the first place. The test of socially awkward egos was way to much to bear. I felt bad for Frank Mentzer's game because he attracted the majority of these players.

    On a positive note, the RPGA D&D events were run my a great bunch of people.

    But, no thanks. Never again.

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  36. As far as I know, there are no RPG-oriented conventions in Austin, Texas -- despite the fact that Steve Jackson Games is here.

    If there were, I'd probably at least check them out.

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  37. I never attended any gaming conventions until Gen Con moved to my hometown of Indianapolis in 2003. I've gone each year since. I don't really go to game since I have my own group of players, but it is fun to walk around and take in the sights, sounds, and (yes unfortunately)the smells of the convention. Now that my girls are teenagers they enjoy going with my wife, and I, and it has become a fun family outing.

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  38. In my youth, I regularly attended GameFest in Old Town San Diego (a small but very lively and well-attended event in the 1980s). Once I moved back to SoCal in the late '90s, I regularly attended (and ran games) at the three L.A. cons run by Strategicon (the three mentioned above), but stopped after my kids were born. Now that the oldest are big enough to enjoy games, I've started going again.

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  39. I had never been to a Con before this weekend. Seeing as I now live in Indianapolis, I went to GenCon.

    It highlights the best and worst of gaming. Everything that is great about playing D&D (and other games) is on display. Everything that makes you remember why you don't always tell people that you play D&D (I now have no shame, but for many years I was a closet D&D player) is also on display.

    I did my best to avoid the tragedy and had a fantastic time. I signed up for games I'd never played and had a game representative walk me and strangers through it. I got to play games against the gaming developers and artists and writers and had them genuinely interested in me having fun playing their game.

    It was very, very cool. Some parts weren't awesome, but I stayed away from them. The Magic Card game area - I avoided. The D&D area - I avoided. Both were pretty unfriendly to me and wanted no part in me observing. But sitting down with the creators of Orbit 5000 and playing it or learning Epigo (from Masquerade games) was great fun.

    As was getting to play in a Daytona 500 tournament (with house rules - they have house rules for a car racing board game for crying out loud) or learn Munchkin Quest and Dungeon Quest (neither games I want to own, but wanted to play) or get to play a WoWTG tournament for beginners...

    There was always something to do. I'm skipping 80% of it. I didn't play any rpgs. I can do that every Friday night. I played and played and played and played all kinds of things I don't normally get the chance to do and it was awesome.

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  40. I've attended Ropecon, the largest Finnish roleplaying con on every year except in 1996, when I was on leave from the compulsory army service.

    Ropecon has been going on annually since 1994. It has more than just roleplaying games, there are card games, board games and miniature games and other stuff.

    I like the con, but I think much of this is because I got involved with it early on (it's completely volunteer-work based) and worked on the Ropecon for ten years.

    There are lots of interesting talks and panels every year, but it seems that I use the con as a place to meet old friends, so nowadays I mostly talk to people I rarely meet. It's fun, too. My wife likes the con too, and our six-year old wants to spend some time there playing board games.

    I've never played a roleplaying game at Ropecon, though. It seems that there's much stuff to do and an rpg would take at least 3-4 hours off it. It's not worthwile in my opinion, though I have friends who basically rpg the whole con.

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  41. Yeah, I'm lucky enough to live in Denver, where we've got two yearly gaming cons, and there's a gaming presence at the various other conventions usually. I've even helped run the RPG sections as a coordinator, and run many, many games over the years. It's a lot of fun.

    I think my first gaming convention was Origins, in Baltimore, when I was a teen and Origins still moved around from city to city.

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  42. Yes I do.

    Nuke-con and OSFES are descendants of the old OMACON. Beddes con is a con put on for someones birthday. Contagion was a new sci fi con that had gaming. And my new favorite is PretzCon put on by a gaming family here locally. They started this year with a bang and are growing fast.

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  43. Toronto had a one-off gaming convention at U.ofT. back in the early '80s; I attended, played a fantasy wargame run by RAFM, and got introduced to Morrow Project by the designers. The personal intro and explanation sold me on a game I probably would never have otherwise ordered/purchased, and my group got years of enjoyment out of rebuilding the post-Apocalyptic future, mostly thanks to my attending that convention.

    In the '90s there was a mid-size gaming convention at Ryerson - Pandemonium - which I attended several years running before it disappeared.

    I went to GenCon 2000 in Milwaukee and had a great time. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I walked into the dealer's room. I’d go again in a flash if I wasn’t perennially broke.

    I've attended a couple iterations of Polaris, a SF convention sited just outside Toronto, and enjoy attending panels and talks given by celebrities and authors.

    I'm certainly looking forward to attending the Toronto OSR con next weekend (though James' sessions were full before I could register for them).

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