Prior to this year, my only real experience with convention-type events were the national tournaments for a trading card game I used to play. Even then, there would be a maximum of like 100 people there so it was maybe an introduction at most, but not a good indicator of what an actual, large convention would be like. I still haven’t experienced a truly large convention (Origins this summer will be the first one there) but I’ve at least broken into the tabletop gaming convention scene in several ways now.
In February, OSG went to Prezcon (just over the mountain from us) for a day to do open gaming and just generally meet some people and have a good time. I met a lot of gaming people, including some Punchboard Media folks, and aside from having a filling fall out of one of my teeth randomly it was a really good time. It was a smaller convention that was a good starter one for me (as I tend to have anxiety in large groups of people I don’t know).
Last month we hiked up to Baltimore for Unpub which was definitely a bigger grouping than Prezcon, but there were enough people I knew (or that Marti and Sarah knew) that I was mostly comfortable. Caught up with lots of friendly people, met some great other ones, and tried out a BUNCH of really neat games. We were there for a weekend so it was a nice step up from the 1 day at Prezcon.
Overall I enjoyed both conventions (barring extraneous things that just happened to occur during them) and I’m glad I had the chance to start with some smaller/shorter conventions before heading to Origins. Having no idea how these things usually go, starting with simpler ones definitely helped my anxiety.
I must say of the 2 I’ve been to so far, Unpub was my favorite. Admittedly we weren’t there for much of Prezcon so if we go longer next year it might be a different experience, but this year I have to go with Unpub.
The atmosphere was so positive, the designers were glad to be there, the playtesters were glad to be there, and the organizers were glad to be hosting a space for this event. I had so much fun playing the prototypes and games available, and all the designers/presenters I worked with were always excited to be showing off the game and looking honestly for feedback. I never felt like my thoughts or ideas weren’t welcome and the presenters always had such passion that I really wanted to help them make their games better.
Based on these 2 conventions, I’m very much looking forward to going to Origins this summer, though as I mentioned I’m glad I had the smaller ones to work up to it. From what Marti and Sarah have said, Origins is large but doesn’t seem stuffed, and there are plenty of ways to get away if you need a moment to yourself. So it’s looking to be a really fun convention and I can’t wait!
Scott – The Solitary Meeple