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Sylvre Phire

Conventions & Crossroads

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So, we're coming up on a year after my whole debacle with my former company. What debacle you may ask? Sorry, but that's... classified... At any rate, the fallout involved the loss of a friend, a decision (made by me) to cut said former friend out of my life, and a decision (made by my former group) to keep transporting the former friend to the locale where we met rather than seeing things from my side (ex: I'm capable of driving myself and running a game; the former friend, though a decent GM, relied on us to cart him around), all in the name of "Neutrality and inclusivity."


Geek social fallacies, anyone? :mad:


So, last October the first major convention rolled around and I was a wreck worrying about seeing the former friend and members of the former group at the con, wondering if they were going to confront me with "You either game with [former friend], or we won't play in your game", etc, etc, etc. I went as far as telling the concomm that the former friend was (and still is) persona non grata at my table and anywhere else near me due to the severity of his offense and my feelings over the outcome of the whole matter. Despite all that, fate decided I wasn't going to the convention - the economy and fuel prices, a half empty gas tank, and my being a foster parent being the deciding factors.


Now the first game day of the year is coming up and I'm wondering if I should even bother. There's more behind it than just the aforementioned quagmire of drama and bile. I've noticed that - at least at the area cons I've attended - there's a lot of insularity. People aren't willing to just jump into a game sight unseen. I can remember setting up an L5R game at one con and sitting there for a half hour waiting for players. Meanwhile, tons of people sat idly at the RPGA tables, doing nothing, waiting for their next RPGA slot...


Now, this isn't a rant about the RPGA... that's a totally different rant that I'll be more than happy to entertain you with another time... ;) What it's all about is wasted effort. You see, I try to make my games special for conventions - simple plots to accommodate the slot lengths, decent character sheets for the pregens, etc. But it all gets wasted and I just sit there and wait... and wait... and wait...


At first I thought maybe it was my timing - I know on Friday nights nobody really wants to jump into a deep game - their brains still are hurting from work. But I've been left sitting there with no players on Saturdays too...


Currently, I'm gaming every two weeks with a classmate of my wife's and his (the classmate's) brother at my home. It's been awesome, but getting new players has been a real pain. I know from past experience "No gaming is better than bad gaming", but that's yet another rant for another time... ;) Anyhow, I talked with my wife's classmate about it and he said a lot of it has to do with the continuity of the RPGA campaigns and the like, and the fact that a lot of gamers seem to use the conventions to a social end - namely meeting up with people they see only once or twice a year...


That's all fine and good, but I guess I feel like maybe I'm doing something wrong. I'm not a neckbeard or a catpiss man by any stretch. I stay away from any nasty subject matter that night trigger people. Add to this the possibility of drama from my past, and you can see why I wonder if I should just pack it in and forget the convention gaming scene.


I'm sure someone out there is going to say, "Just find a new convention." It's not that easy. I don't have the money or the means to just travel to another convention, be it another minor con out of state, or a major con like GenCon or Origins. Flying's not really an option for me due to my size and driving long distances is risky at best. I just don't handle long-distance driving well. The last time I tried, I kept nodding off behind the wheel.


I'm sorry for the disjointed nature of this little rant, but I'm not really sure what to do. I miss taking pride in coming up with convention scenarios, designing the characters and such, but I don't want to waste my time and money on trying to run a game nobody will play in, and I'm definitely not willing to show up at a con where someone's just waiting to pounce on me and cause a lot of drama.


TL;DR version: When did gaming become so sucky? :(


Pax et bonum,



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Having been to a couple of non-major conventions, I understand what you mean by "insular". I have seen (and heard) about the groups that ALWAYS sign up to game under the same GMs year after year after year. While RPGA isn't such a big thing where I am, there is this sort of quasi-natural grouping that occurs that both makes it uninviting for new people to game, but also uninviting for new GMs to run games.


Fortunately there's also a core of GMs that attend these Cons that have also seen this and have taken to putting in announcements that they will not take anyone from their home town in any Con games. They can play with them at any time if they live in the same town, these GMs want NEW people to get a chance to play in the games as well. From a player's perspective, it gets really frustrating showing up at the start of the Con and seeing all of the games you want to play have their slots already full of the same names you saw last year....and the year before that.


Fortunately there's also some new GMs who open up with new games at the Cons and the other GMs do their best to promote consistant players to their games to give a NEW GM a shot rather than always playing with them.


I could suggest you chat up some of the GMs at your local Con and see if some of them would get on board with that idea. Or perhaps try chatting with the Con organizers to see if they could bring it up to the various GMs, as a way of promoting MORE gaming for players rather than the same people always playing with the same GMs every single year.


Barring that, if the Con you go to has board games, I'd suggest you take a break from RPGs at Cons and play some board games for a year or two. This especially holds true if your Con just has a bunch of RPGA games that you don't want to get involved with. Now don't poo-poo board games, as there are plenty that are fun without being war games or majorly rule intensive, or even long spans of time to play. You can have a lot of fun with them that you might not have sitting at a table waiting for players to show up.


Another suggestion is talk to the Con organizers to see if they can help promote games with open slots. Have them do an announcement. Give an "elevator pitch" that hopefully grabs some people who might be looking for something to do and might hear of your game and think "That sounds like it might be fun." If they're not willing to do that, I really think you might be stuck with doing board games or just ditching that Con as it sounds like it's not conducive to really promoting gaming in all varieties.


It may just be best to do your own personal gaming in the comfort of your own home and focus your gaming energies into creating lots of new stuff for your players and for people online.

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Sylvre Phire:


I invite you to join us in the Azamar Google+ game. I should be setting up the next one online soon. The thing I have done consistently when encountering gaming group problems is going and finding a new gaming group. For the time being, you could join us though, see what Azamar is all about, get some gaming fix, and meet some of the other folks here in the d6 forums.


- J.

Via Googletalk/Google+: arcgaden@gmail.com


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