I went to Gen Con again. It went well, despite the usual Indiana weather.
This was my third year in a row attending, and also my third Gen Con overall. It was also the Con's 50th anniversary, and badges sold out for the first time ever.
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon; this year I was lucky enough to score a room at the JW Marriott, which meant I was only 10 minutes away (at most) from the convention floor. Makes all the difference. This has ruined me for future Cons, and I simply don't know what I'll do if I can't get at least a downtown hotel in the future.
After navigating the circus-like lobby, and upon entering my room, I noticed the message light blinking on the desk phone. Curious. I hit the Voice Mail button and discovered there was a message being held for me at the front desk. Dialed down and was told Greg Stafford wanted me to call him.
I got through to Greg. "Oh hey, David. I just wanted to invite you out to dinner with me and the Chaosium crew."
I'm pleased to say the high never really wore off after that auspicious start. I got to hang with the Chaosium crew, went to the Diana Jones Awards and saw a metric tonne of designers, publishers, and writers there, attended a bunch of great panels, talked to yet more awesome designers and creatives than you can shake a stick at (particular shout-outs to Chris Helton, Chris Spivey, Zak S, Ben McFarland, Wade Rockett, Mark Diaz-Truman, Sarah Richardson, and Alan Bahr--whom I spent most of the Con trying to meet up with, only to randomly run into on Saturday afternoon), met with folks about projects and made sinister plans for the future, handed out all of my Esoteric Order stickers (and holy shit do people love free stickers), talked about a possible sponsorship for the Order, and even managed to play in a couple games (one of which was terrible, the other terrific). I also fan-boyed out at Larry Elmore's booth, and only just managed to mumble my thanks as I bought two signed prints from him.
Oh, and even though I was so busy that I only averaged 1.5 meals a day, I tried to make the ones I did have count.
As a history nerd, I especially enjoyed all the "Gen Con 50" events going on all weekend. The museum at Lucas Oil had some amazing displays...
But the highlight of the retrospective events for me (and an overall Con highlight in general) was attending one of the "old fogey panels" (as Stafford called them), this one with Stafford himself, Steve Jackson, Mike Pondsmith, John Nephew, and Jordan Weisman.
Folks, this was like the pages of my old Wargames West catalog come to life. Chaosium, FASA, Steve Jackson Games, R. Talsorian, Lion Rampant...these were the companies that I followed assiduously when I first got into the hobby, and here were their founders. And so many great stories were shared! Such a treat to witness this. (I noticed they were taking video of the panel, so hopefully we'll see it released soon.)
As much fun as Gen Con is, it's also a business trip for me, fundamentally. And I have to say this was the most successful one for me yet, by far, according to that metric. Expect to see a bunch of stuff from me out of Chaosium in the months and years to come, but also a handful of other publishers of surpassing taste as well. There's a lot in the pipeline, and I suspect 2018 will see my gaming-related publishing resume begin to expand exponentially. I have such sights to show you...
Apparently, as far as traveling to and from Gen Con is concerned, Tuesday is the new Wednesday and Monday is the new Sunday. The latter, in particular--I missed out on many more socializing and gaming opportunities because I flew out on Sunday morning instead of Monday. I'll have to stay an extra night next year, I guess.
It's fine, though. Gen Con was wonderfully exhausting as it was. This year really did feel special for a whole bunch of reasons, but it was still great to come home to finer weather and a very happy dog...