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It only looks random ...

Satori of a wandering mind.

August 22nd, 2007

GenCon summary @ 01:50 pm

When our children were young, I had custom T-shirts made for vacationing. They all said "KILLIANY" across the back with a large number beneath. I was 01, Valerie was 02, and the children were 03, 04, and 05. This year Alethea, 03, presented us with Carolina blue polo shirts that had "Killiany" followed by our designated number neatly embroidered in white on the left breast.

About a thousand words on GenCon below the cut.

Team Killiany arrived at GenCon at 7:00 PM on Wednesday. We were supposed to arrive sometime between 2 and 4 to help with set-up, but we left Wilmington late and hit a 169-mile stretch of two-lane road that seemed to be under construction for its entire length. A trip Google Maps said should take 12 hours took over 14. The exhibit hall closed at 6PM, so we were unable to help. Nonetheless, Valerie -- who is much more popular than I -- was able to say 'hi' to several old friends and we introduced our children to many of the gang.

Thursday morning we were on site early and pitching in with strips of tape pulling all the sawdust and debris off the diorama landscape preparatory to all the miniatures being positioned. I'll have to find a few pictures of the finished product -- I'm sure someone took some. (Special note: My snazzy Samsung Blackjack phone takes pictures of a sort. However, I was a professional photographer for years before my vision deteriorated and I can not stand the fuzzy images my phone produces. I never use it.)

Our kids are electronic gamers, and while there was more of that at GenCon this year than ever before, it's still all about "real" games. Anson and Daya became close friends with a young man named Talon -- son of Catalyst Game Labs founder Loren Coleman -- who set out to show them the ropes on all the miniature, collectable card, and role-playing games available.

Gamers -- the folks who pay my bills -- have a general reputation for being overweight, overcompetitive, unwashed, and rude people who have lived in their parent's basement for the last three decades. This is not entirely true. While the general level of self-absorption and lack of social skills remained constant, I will say there were few examples of deliberate rudeness. And there were acts of courtesy as well. The norm was neither hostile nor considerate -- more a case of attendees treating folks not of immediate interest as NPCs. As for hygiene issues.... There were just enough examples to keep the stereotype alive. (What is it with gamers and driers? Sour clothes were a bigger issue than body odor in many cases.) And it bears pointing out, while the gamer phenotype continues to predominate (everyone sold out of XXXXL and above T-shirts Thursday) there were enough physically fit, courteous, socially engaged, and articulate people wandering about to give hope for the future of gaming and gamers as a species.

On the other hand, Alethea, an attractive 24-year-old, was pretty much driven from the hall by crowd behaviors on the first day. Apparently those sufficiently aware to not run her over were under the impression that a Carolina blue polo shirt and khaki slacks comprised a flirtation device advertising her willingness to party with males with three times her mass. ("Can I have my picture made with you?" grope) One of Alethea's college roommates lives near Indianapolis and she spent more time with her than she did at the convention center. Daya, sixteen and just as attractive, quickly attached herself firmly to Talon's arm for protection. Loren's son is only 14, but a swimmer of athletic build who looks much older. (Loren reported he was keeping an eye on them and only relaxed when he realized that the two of them were thoroughly geeking out on games and nothing else was going on. I had no worries from the jump. Anson was also with them and the intensity of his protective reflexes exceed even my own. One false move and Talon would have had six-foot-six of hurt all over him. I'm trying to arrange for Anson to accompany Daya on all of her dates. At least until she's thirty.)

There were more women than usual in attendance this year. And more people of color (natural, not painted on). In fact, a young woman of color was personning the Devil's Due Publishing booth across the aisle from the Catalyst enclave.

Fewer revealing outfits this year -- or at least no 5th Element tape suits (counted five in 2006). And the two young ladies in chainmail bikinis I saw had figured out interlocking metal links are more comfortable when worn over a body suit. One observation about bustiers: A few were very effective. However many -- and these I assume were cheap examples -- looked more like torture devices, imparting an unnatural lift and thrust that looked uncomfortable if not downright painful. Inspired more cringes than thrills -- at least among those mentally out of adolescence. (Those of arrested development could be identified by their battle cry: "Can I have my picture made with you?" grope)

Thursday was a wandering around and seeing the sights day. This also involves grabbing up any free hand-outs which explain a game's premise or universe -- research for later pitches. Could not find the UK company I've been wooing even though I knew they were supposed to be there. Valerie took ill during the day and went back to the room early.

Friday was mostly a day of business for me. I began by crashing a game company's business breakfast and just sitting there like I belonged, learning a great deal about future projects and what their writing needs would be. I have an invitation to pitch. Went back to check on Valerie, who still did not feel well, but she chased me out of the room, reminding me I was at GenCon to expand my opportunities. While our offspring amused themselves with games and anime festivals, I cruised a section called "Authors' Avenue" by the convention organizers and "Authors' Alley" by everyone else. Mostly small press and/or POD folks this year. Did chat with an editor/publisher who produced anthologies of original fiction and a comicbook publisher. Impressed the latter with my theatre background and fact I realized a comic is more like a script than a story. Also targeted a couple of start-up game companies I'd checked out on Thursday (and continued to not find the UK company). That night was dinner with Catalyst Game Labs and many of my favorite writer friends -- including Phaedra Weldon, Jason Schmetzer, Steve Mohan, and Jason Hardy among others.

Saturday was a day for panels and workshops. Valerie was still ill, but got up to come along with Alethea and watch me perform. They then went to the costume competition -- which Valerie tells me is not as good as Shore Leave's. I had a very disappointing book signing followed by another cruise for work through the exhibition hall. Found the UK game company's USA distributor tucked away in a corner about ten minutes before the hall closed. The name is in no way similar and if I hadn't recognized a couple of titles in their book rack behind the display I would have walked right by them -- again. Chatted briefly with the folks -- long enough to confirm I'd missed the people I needed to see. With all this internet stuff at my fingertips you'd think I'd have sense enough to do a little research -- there's no excuse for my not knowing the USA distributor's name (not to mention being unaware they existed).

Saturday night was Iron Writer, which I've already posted about, and visiting with friends before getting to bed early (11:00 PM) in prep for the long drive home.
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It only looks random ...

Satori of a wandering mind.