It is strange to think that I’ve just come back from my 25th GenCon in a row. There are few things in my life I have done as consistently as attend GenCon. I’m not really certain at which point going was just something I took for granted. The 10 year mark maybe? That year, 1999, I was working at Wizards of the Coast and it seemed I had “made it” in the game industry. If not that year then certainly by 2002, when it was clear that Green Ronin was going to be much more than a short-lived side project.
I’ve written about my first GenCon before, so I won’t repeat all that here. It is funny to think about that first year and how I literally knew no one at the show though. Now I just don’t have enough GenCon to catch up with all the friends that attend each year, but that first time I was on my own. In a way I miss that freedom. I just did whatever I wanted for four days. I didn’t have to worry about running a booth or having meetings or pleasing anybody but myself. I just played a lot of games, spent hours in the auction, and attended seminars. These days there are certain cons I go to just for fun and I try to recapture some of that magic there. Here’s the thing though: there is no con like GenCon. Not for gamers. And that’s as true now as it ever was.
So how was my GenCon. It was…good. It wasn’t a stand out year, but I had a fun time. Green Ronin had two new books for the show: the Icons RPG and Gadget Guides for Mutants & Masterminds. Icons: The Assembled Edition was the clear hit. There was much interest and we sold a bunch. We did not, sad to say, have Dragon Age Set 3 there. The printers just could not do it in time, which was disappointing to me and many people who came by our booth looking for it. We did host a puzzle for the Dragon Age egg hunt, which was cool. This is something I’ve been working on with Mike Selinker’s Loan Shark Games. Basically, Mike and his team make the puzzles and I provide the Dragon Age lore. This is a year long event that’s happening at multiple conventions.
Most of my con was spent working the Green Ronin booth. I like to be there as much as possible, so people can find me easily. I did four seminars, took a bunch of meetings, and did many interviews. I usually try to set aside a couple of hours on Sunday to walk the exhibit hall and see what other companies are up to. This year I had a flurry of last minute interview requests so I only got 15 minutes to walk around right at the end. That was good for my wallet, as I did not have time to pick up much stuff, but I do wish I had had more time. This may be the first GenCon ever I brought home no miniatures. Zero. Zip. Not even one. Inconceivable!
The best part of GenCon these days is seeing friends. I caught up with so many people, but still missed some folks I would like to have had a drink with. For me GenCon is sort of like a class reunion, except it’s people that I want to see (for the most part) and it happens every year. One friend has been working on a new RPG and I got to playtest it one night. That was the one bit of actual gaming I got to do and it was a good time. I can’t tell you who or what game now but I’ll be posting about when he makes it public.
I am really looking forward to next year. Not just because it’s GenCon but because we have some exciting stuff planned for 2015. We have two things getting started now that are super cool, though I can’t talk about either of them at this time. Trust me when I say, you will hear about them. Also trust me when I say that neither one of them is Mass Effect*.
Big kudos to the Green Ronin staff and volunteers for all their hard work at GenCon. Our booth crew was so efficient, in fact, that they had packed up all the books at show’s end before I pulled copies of Icons and Gadget Guides for myself! That’s OK though because we are exhibiting at PAX Prime here in Seattle next week and we’re shipping in the new books for that too. I must say, I’m not quite ready for another big, four day convention, but such is life in the game industry.
25 years of GenCon. Damn. Do I get a silver watch or d20 or something?
* I’m just throwing that out now as a matter of course, because if I say anything vague people jump right to Mass Effect. Like to do it, can’t, end of story.