This year’s Gen Con was one of the most reaffirming experiences of my life as a geek. There’s kind of a lot of backstory involved but I think it’s worth sharing (especially after finally getting the chance to see Wil Wheaton’s keynote!)
It was a big milestone for me for a couple of reasons: one, Gen Con was my first convention ever. I went shortly after moving in with my current roommates for my first time ever last year in 2009. It was overwhelming and incredible and amazing to know that I was among my people in such a high concentration. Two: a very good friend of mine from a long time ago was there; more on that in a minute. Three: Are you kidding? For a geek who cut her teeth on gaming of various sorts, Gen Con is like Mecca!
More on number two: this friend was the person who, more than anyone else on the planet, can be pinpointed for catapulting me into a life of geekhood. We’ve referred to him as my Yoda for years because one night, he role played online with a girl who was in it for the story, and then he taught me my first-ever pen and paper RPG. For reference, it was Vampire: the Masquerade. From that moment, I was hooked on gaming – and on being a geek – in a way I’d never been excited about anything. Since then, D20 Call of Cthulhu has helped me get to know some of my favorite undergraduate faculty; Dungeons and Dragons helped me make friends with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and with whom I now live; Mind’s Eye Theatre helped me make friends with another ridiculous number of people I all consider to be great friends – and the effects of my relationship with gaming have cascaded much further than just these apparent friendships.
Needless to say, my “Yoda” can (and often does) take credit for a large part of that. I was excited to finally get the chance to hang out with this guy, and we had a great time actually getting to know each other – at times it was scary how much we had in common. That’s another thing that happens a lot at Gen Con – people get your jokes, and they don’t roll their eyes when you make them.
So here’s what I did at my Gen Con:
- Gifted a professor from the college at which I did my undergrad with a book of Tolkien sheet music I knew she’d appreciate more than I ever could;
- Met a new old friend and celebrated that very thing upon which our friendship was founded for FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT;
- Took a belly dance class, where I learned an entirely new set of fundamentals from the ones I’d drilled into my head over the spring semester last year;
- Played an incredible game of Vampire: the Masquerade, which featured the absolute best luck with the dice I ever had (a beautiful set of smoky gray Crystal Caste D10s with tiny blue glitter swirled through them);
- Got a million and one compliments on the incredible Tiefling costume I put together for Saturday! Including ones from Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton;
- Got to chitchat with Jeff Lewis, Sandeep Parikh, Robin Thorsen, and Felicia Day; upon meeting Wil Wheaton, lost all cognitive abilities, got a +1 and an autograph on my dice bag (after I’d already had such incredible luck with my dice that weekend!), and then stammered out, “I’m a huge fan!” and ran away embarrassed;
- Attended the Saturday night White Wolf party, where I danced my heart out ’til the wee hours of the morning in between bouts of talking about White Wolf’s games, a love that I seemed to share with everyone in the room;
- Saw two of my very favorite people from Indianapolis – whom I get to see normally no more than once a month – EVERY DAY, and got to share in the joy of our mutual love of gaming;
- Spent the ensuing two weeks mooning over the experience, and then realized it’s only been two weeks.
I used Mecca earlier in my description of what it’s like to go to Gen Con, and for me, it’s incredibly apt: Gen Con this year was almost like a spiritual experience. Even though I got a total of twelve hours of sleep between Thursday and Sunday – and Saturday morning, after the all-night V:tM session that kept us up past dawn, only two hours – I was in a constant state of bliss. There’s something very zen about watching a half-dozen men trekking down the street in broad daylight wearing replicas of Jayne Cobb’s famous hat from Firefly. A man walks down the street wearing a hat like that, people know he’s not afraid of anything. A group of men walks down the street wearing hats like that, in August, in Indianapolis, you know you’re at Gen Con.
And that’s why I can say with absolute certainty that in the year 2040, the people who were in Indy that weekend for the Con are going to be talking about it in much the same way hippies talk about Woodstock now. If you don’t get it, don’t worry – you just had to be there.