My First Con
Griff and I were having fun developing Viro through the summer of 2016. We had the basics down, but we were missing something big. I knew we needed feedback from some strangers. A friend of mine told me I should take our prototype to the inaugural CinCityCon. At first, I was hesitant. What I knew of GameCons was what I saw through media: Lots of people and lots of people in Cosplay. Honestly, a little intimidating.
I talked to Griff. He couldn't go. Something about a flesh colored tux in a friend's wedding. Yes, a pasty white guy in a flesh colored tux. He made the mistake of sending me a picture....
I had to go it alone. At least I knew that my friend who recommended it in the first place would be there. I didn't find out until later that he was skeptical of the whole thing. He was prepping himself to either: lie to me and tell me the game was great or; how to let me down gently. He had been to GameCons before and had a much better sense what I was into.
Naively, I pulled together our prototype and made it to GameCon in the middle of the afternoon. I had 2 soccer games to coach that morning, and couldn't get there any sooner. But, I prepared to spend the rest of the day and evening sitting around. So, I dressed comfortably. I put on my orange FC Cincinnati cap (local pro soccer team) and Lululemon workout gear.
I was super nervous walking into the hotel ballroom. My friend went out to lunch and wasn't back yet. I was totally alone. As soon as I walked in, my heart started racing. Somehow, I forgot the images of GameCons I had seen. I looked around, there were dozens of tables with people playing games. I expected that. But, I didn't expect costumes... there weren't that many, but it was normal for this crowd. The guy with the horns freaked me out a bit and I knew I was the one who stood out. I barely saw a ball-cap; and there certainly wasn't anybody ready for a workout. All of a sudden, I felt like I was in Junior High again.
I set up our prototype and camped out a table and waited for either my friend to come back, or a stranger take an interest.
Nobody seemed interested. That is, until I realized I didn't invite anyone to play.
I discovered that I had no reason to be concerned. The first couple I asked to play joined me. They seemed to have fun, so I invited another and another. Everyone was super cool and I really enjoyed myself.
The highlight came at the end of the night. Earlier, I made small talk with a woman next to me who was hosting Steven Jackson games. She and her husband seemed to know everyone. As I was packing up my stuff, she came running over and started grabbing some of my tiles, board, and anything that looked interesting. She explained she made an intro for me with the guys at Arkham House Games and I had to take my stuff and go talk to them right now.
I looked at her and could tell this was important and she was trying to help. She pointed to a round table on the other side of the room and told me to go.
I looked up and saw the Junior High lunch table with the cool kids. This was the table everyone wanted to be at. I humbly gathered my stuff and walked over, hoping not to be ridiculed for what I was wearing. I felt like I was going to talk to the Game Store Mafia.
There were 4 of them there and they knew their stuff. A couple of them asked insightful questions and seemed interested. But their enthusiasm was veiled under an attitude of boredom. I felt like I was watching the end of your average teen movie when the dorky girl, turned hot, impresses the popular girls.
The owner was super nice and offered his help. One of the other guys invited me to come to the store and play with him when it opens. Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of taking either of them up... yet.
The whole event is etched in my memory as a reminder of the importance to be: comfortable in your own skin, vulnerable, and optimistic. I will return to another GameCon. In fact. Find us at DayCon February 18.
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