Monday, June 21, 2010

On the Road Soon

Last day before Origins really begins. Taking care of all sorts of odds and ends, making sure the car is ready for the trip and so on. If I can blog from the con, I may, but I don't want to bet on it, so I'm going to use this window to dust off some old articles that I think merit the time in the sun.

I'm pretty excited. Conventions tend to do a lot to remind me of how much there is to like about our community. It wasn't always the case - cons I went to in college and even my first gencon were kind of messy blurs with high and low parts - but nowadays I know what I want out of a convention, and that improves things mightily.

I think the first convention that really blew the top of my head off was AmberCon Northwest, and to this day I will say it's the best convention in the country. It had a lot going for it, including a wonderful location, amazing food and drink, and an amazing staff, but those weren't the things that really grabbed me. What struck me most is that this was a convention with lots of couples, even small children, and a genuinely mature air in dealing with these things. To put it bluntly, it was a gaming convention full of grown-ups.

I admit this has colored my view on things since then. It's not that I demand that I only interact with grown-ups; quite the contrary. But knowing that adult gaming (in a non-saucy sense) is a reasonable expectation has given me a firm point to take refuge in. I like getting my geek on, but I also like that I can discuss jobs, mortgages and now kids with other people I get my geek on with.

And, to be frank, that's only a sliver of the goodness. For all that RPGs have poisonous people and groups, I have seen many more positive, enthusiastic communities who have decided to share their enthusiasm rather than prove they're right. If you look nowhere but or story games, you'd think this community is nothing but a bunch of unpleasant shouting and self-aggrandizement. But when I look at the communities built around things; Fudge, Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, Amber and many others, I see that the reality is that the people who want to do something have mostly been avoiding the places where people just want to show off how smart they are.

It's weird to me that this is such an angry hobby. I have seen far too many people of passion and good intent become embittered because people don't listen to them or acknowledge them. This worries me a lot because there are people I care about who spend a lot of time stressing about where and how they're acknowledged in gaming, and I worry that they're on the same path.

And thus, I hold out hope for conventions. I know of no better cure for this than people, especially the kind of people you get to meet at something like Origins.


  1. There is indeed a lot of poison in this hobby. The key to having a good time is sifting through the pool of people to find the cool guys. Thanks for sharing the info about that convention.

  2. Don't be a stranger. Filamena and I will be hawking Maschine Zeit and paneling all weekend. I'm excited to get out of the house.

  3. You really think Story Games is a poisonous place? Sure, there are some bad threads, but overall my experience there has been very positive. It's my go-to example for showing that there are great RPG discussion communities on the internet.

  4. @Christian The bad threads are, to my mind, just too bad. I like most of the people on SG a LOT, and every now and again I try to go back thinking it can't be that bad, and it's always worse.

  5. Is it necessarily the people or the medium in which they are expressing themselves in? With fora, or even comment fields of blogs such as this one, there is a distinct tendency to read an emotional mood into the replies that may not be there in the first place. Especially if it is a comment that you find disagrees with what you say or hold dear.

    There is a distinct tendency, given how such replies are made (even the very terms "reply" and "comment") to consider them parts of a conversation, and thus give them a "voice." Along with the voice comes a "picture" of the person. Both are invariably wrong, unless you have met the person beforehand.

    [For example, what is the accent I am speaking to you in at the moment? I'm almost certain it will be a local one to your region. And, with the exception of a couple of people i've seen comment on your blog, it is invariably going to be the wrong one. This will innately begin to shape your perception of what I am saying. grin>]

    You* can't help doing it. It's part of being human. For example, this may come across as an arrogant criticism of you (and probably will, now that I have "primed the pump" in that regard). It's not. It's just an acknowledgement that this problem exists.

    And that connects with the desire for acknowledgement too. In real life you can see people are listening to your ideas, even if they don't say something themselves. Here, they have to go to the physical effort of acknowledging your ideas ... and when they don't, it can feel pretty soul destroying. You've said something, often important to you, and just gotten silence in reply.

    [It's probably why I comment far more than is generally customary, because I feel that it important to acknowledge that I am listening to, and enjoying, the ideas of the other person, and wish to have them continue to do so. And the fact that I do will colour people's perceptions of me if they don't understand the reasons for doing so.]

    And remember that the person on the other side of the mirror is seeing exactly the same thing. Their own reflection.

    And that's why conventions are so important. They provide the anodyne, the grounding in reality, that is vital for good communication in this modern era where conversations can be reliably held between widely separated people. Suddenly people become people, rather than disembodied voices.

    Anyway, this is a very long reply simply to wish you a pleasant journey and an enjoyable con, and hope that you return with news of the new games that strike your fancy. It's how we get to hear about the interesting new stuff. <grin>

    [* And the imprecision of English is another problem. Am I talking to Rob here, all the people reading my comment. I'm not telling. Make your own decision. <grin>]

  6. This is my first Origins, and I'm looking forward to seeing some folks I haven't seen in years, meeting new folks, and buying rounds for people that have surely earned them. There's certainly a lot of ego and frustration and divisiveness in the hobby, I wouldn't argue against that. I'm just grateful for opportunities where people who love games can hang out and share their passion, and hopefully listen as well as talk. It's nice when the community comes together for something positive.

  7. This will also be my first Origins and I'm excited! I've heard it is a great "big, but small" convention.

    Rob, I'm sad you find Story Games so bad - I've heard that from other people I respect and am apparently blind to the problem (or part of the problem, or both). I'd love to hear more, maybe in person. From my perspective it is a very productive community - a lot of good work has come out of it, and I've made really fruitful collaborative relationships there.


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