GenCon Debrief, fuller version

The show was the busiest I’ve ever had, between working the table for Cubicle 7, going to my own Adamant-related meetings, doing a seminar on ePublishing, etc.

According to Peter, there were something like 30K gamers there. It definitely showed.

Wednesday: Flew out with , making her triumphant return to GenCon for the first time since 2001. Arrived in Indy, checked into the hotel, and met up with the rest of the C7 crew (, , and the sadly LJ-less Marc Farrimond) for booth set-up. Followed soon thereafter by dinner and a pre-convention movie.

The C7 contingent (joined by Valerie and Florent from 7ieme Cercle — publishers of Qin) were going to see The Dark Knight, so those of us who’d already seen it multiple times (Myself, Marc and Laura) went instead to Tropic Thunder. HOLY CRAP. Go see this movie. I laughed so hard I was in pain… and quotes from this epic filled the rest of the Convention.

After the film, we head over to the Diana Jones Awards, held at the super-seekrit-location, where we get to hob-nob with other industry folks, watch the awards presented, and manage to get a pint of Guinness dumped down my leg by . :)

Thursday: First day of the show — and the floor opens an hour earlier than normal for members of GenCon’s fairly new “VIG” program (Very Important Gamer) — some of whom are retailers, but most of whom just earned the status by years of running events, volunteering, etc. They get an hours’ early access on Thursday, there’s a VIG-only lounge somewhere on the site, etc.

….because what this industry needed was ANOTHER way for gamers to work through their adolescent ostracization trauma by engaging in hierarchical status-games. Yeah.

The advance edition of C7’s Starblazer Adventures finally arrived — delivered to the hotel on Wednesday evening, so we all lug boxes over to the hall in time for the opening, and so begins the feeding frenzy. At one point on that first day, I did the math and realized that we were averaging one sale every 8 minutes, of a book that was priced at $60. (To be fair, $60 bought you the 630-page softcover, and a post-GenCon shipment of both the PDF and the hardcover version coming in November). was in high demand, signing copies and answering questions.

After 9 hours in the exhibit hall, it’s time for another dinner — this time the publisher’s dinner hosted by OneBookShelf, Inc. (the owners of RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.) Lovely Italian fare from Bucca di Beppo, and a chance to interact with OBS staff and our fellow publishers. This is followed by drinks at the Ram (a bar and grill that turns gamer-centered during the show, thanks to the sponsorship of several games publishers), and the requisite 4 1/2 hours of sleep.

Friday: Victoriana 2nd Edition manages to squeak in under the wire via hotel delivery, so we’ve got even more in-demand product at the booth. Now, both AND are in “chat me up and then sign my book” mode. is away on numerous meetings (spaced with alarming regularity throughout the show — poor fellow barely got to spend any time at the booth at all), and and I discover that we’re spending about 60% of our time answering questions about C7’s forthcoming Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.

A lot of the rest of my time is spent answering questions about Adamant’s TALES OF NEW CROBUZON, our upcoming game license from China Mieville, thanks to the appearance of the following promo card at the table:

(Expect more info on that in September.)

Friday afternoon featured my appearance at a seminar on “Bringing an RPG to Market in the 21st Century” — ePublishing, POD, etc. We only had about a dozen attendees, and only an hour to talk — but hopefully got some good information out there, and sparked some thoughts for some of those folks.

Friday night was dinner at the Ram with the usual suspects (C7, Valerie et Florent, Adamant freelancer Walt Ciechanowski, and “Bill” — a gamer who graciously allowed us to share his table in the packed bar). Marc ate a burger the size of his head (literally — and he has pictures to prove it), the alcohol flowed, and the entire bar shouted “THIS! IS! SPARTA!” at the appropriate moment in 300 (showing on the bar’s giant screen TV), before returning to their individual conversations.

Another night, another 4 hours of sleep.

Saturday: Traditionally the biggest day of the show. For us, slightly less sales, but marked increase in questions and requests for further info. Still hadn’t managed to walk around the entire Hall, but made some brief excursions to discover that a few of the things that I had wanted to pick up (notably the Pathfinder beta release) had sold out. BOO.

Noon featured a site-wide Moment of Silence for Gary Gygax — although a disturbingly large segment of the population didn’t respect that. Also heard from Darren at Hero Games that some assclowns were walking around the show in T-Shirts that read “4th Edition Killed Gary.” I’m very, very glad that I did not see this. As I remarked at the time: “Alright boys, which do you prefer: Wearing those shirts, or not having to take meals through a straw for the next 6 weeks?” What an amazingly classless thing to do in a place filled with the man’s friends and colleages.

Saturday night was the much-vaunted invitation-only White Wolf party. Sadly, most of the folks that and I knew on the staff have long since moved on. The place was packed with folks that we mostly didn’t know, and, as was pointed out by more than one of us, with people who were maybe 5 to 8 years old when Vampire was first released. How the wheel turns.

We also dropped by the official GenCon ball, which was on a steampunk theme — far goofier, but the attendees appeared to be having a better time. Some great costumes, too — and an amazingly beautiful location (the old Union station). By this point, though, my feet were definitely feeling the effects of days of pounding the cement, and so we retired to the room to soak in the whirlpool.

Sunday: The final day. The Hall was only open until 4, so it went by in a rush — finally got a chance to run around and make some purchases, and then GenCon was officially over. Indy was hosting two events that night — an Open House at the new Lukas Oil stadium for Colts fans, and WWE SUMMERSLAM (We’ll go ahead and put the implied multiple exclamation points and thunder effects here), so finding a restaurant without a multi-hour wait was….difficult. We ended up at Alcatraz, and then at the Embassy Suits where we spent the night in the bar with a large assortment of various industry folks from all over the world, including , , , , , and many more.

Reluctantly, and I headed back to the hotel to pack up and get about 2 to 3 hours of sleep before having to catch a cab at STUPID o’clock and fly back to KC on the early flight.

I’m sure I’m forgetting bunches. It all sorta blends together, after all. But it was a great opportunity to spend time with friends we only get to see once or twice a year, a chance to make new friends that we got on with famously, and — perhaps most importantly — a chance to recharge my enthusiasm for what I’ve chosen to do for a living.

And now, back to work…..

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