Archive for the ‘Conventions’ Category
Recently, I was privileged to be guest of honor at Metatopia, one of the Double Exposure events held in Morristown, New Jersey. This was my fourth or fifth Double Exposure event, and my first Metatopia. And while I’ve known that Metatopia was awesome from posts and tweets from others from the last two years, I gotta say that they undersold the event.
Today, I’m going to share with you why I’ve fallen in love with this show, and it starts with this: Metatopia bills itself, more or less, as a design and playtesting event. But really, it’s a community event.
For those who aren’t aware, Metatopia is a convention focused on playtesting games in progress, connecting with game designers, participating in panels about the process of making games, and just generally engaging in designer culture. As can be expected from the DE crowd that spawned this, it’s got a heavy lean toward story games/indie stuff/whatever you want to call ‘em.
As a Design Space
I’m not a musician, but I imagine the sort of casual space where musical greats and talented lesser-knowns (or unknowns doing this for the first time) get together to jam. demo pieces, and talk shop in a way that they can’t around those whose fandom is just rooted in consumption. This is like how I imagine that is — as a big jam where you leave enriched with someone else’s song in your head, and their song in yours, and cool that those melodies will end up influencing other works.
I participated in some playtests, where we actually attempted to play games, and one focus group, where we talked about a game concept and gave ideas. Some games crashed minutes into the test, and we talked for an hour about what could be changed, effectively turning it into a focus group. The panels were good, and some were recorded (which I’ll point out on my social media when I see them drop). My personal favorite bit was when John Stavropolous was trying to get us to “say something controversial” on the What Goes Into Your GM Chapter panel. I tried, I really tried.
There was also off-the-books playtesting, including my own card-based RPG tool that I decided to draft together a day before I flew out. This is the sort of space where while you’re at the bar with friends and designers, you can say “hey, can I show you something?” and give a five-minute demo…provided you’re cool for a critique. Oh, and the bar has a fantastic open space (which allows sound to not echo back and force everyone to be loud to be heard.
I feel like I’m not selling enough that this is a place where if you have hit a creative wall, that wall will be broken down. If you need a creative boost, you’ll be thrown into the air. And if you’re lost on a project, you’ll get a map and sense of direction. You just have to be bold enough to share being stuck, being down, or being lost in order to get that to happen, but it’s easier to get that confidence when you see professionals around you also ask for the same help.
As a Safe Space
The main bathrooms in the game area were rebranded to be non-gendered. The environment of the place was the most welcoming I have ever seen at a show, where people could wear traditional non-Western clothing without feeling like the space threatens them for doing so. And some of the panels were about hard topics in our community, trying to have dialogues rather than suffer in silence and misunderstanding. (I did my ‘Ryan talks about his story of being suicidal’ panel at the show, and Elizabeth Sampat & I held that discussion for an audience of 11 people.)
Now, if you’re like me, and some of this make you nervous because you have anxiety and are afraid of doing the wrong thing in an unfamiliar environment, it turns out that it’s also a safe place to make mistakes if you acknowledge them and are willing to talk about them. (And to get you to realize that what you’re feeling is how other people feel every day.) I recall Avonelle telling a few of us about some guys came up to her to ask her to talk about privilege, and she was beaming because men came to her about it openly, rather than your, well, more typical big convention experience.
It’s Not For Everyone
One thing about Metatopia is that it isn’t for everyone. If you’re not interested in participating in the community, and go to cons just to play the games you’re used to playing and not engage with people who are making stuff, you won’t enjoy the convention and it won’t enjoy you. Now, if you’re up for trying something new, it’s totally welcoming and fun.
Also, if you’re an asshole, this convention isn’t for you. If you’re the sort of person who would casually mock the social issues mentioned above and think you’re right for doing so, man alive you’re going to know what it’s like to be unwelcome for who you are.
It is my great hope that I’ll be able to go again next year. If you want to see more posts from people talking about their experiences, check out those on G+: https://plus.google.com/s/%23metatopia.
My testicle-having, convention-going friends, I’m going to get real here. Like, this real:
My fiancée Lillian Cohen-Moore heard me complain at Gen Con about how the heat and humidity of Indianapolis this year (which was far better than in previous years, granted) made life a bit miserable, since I had to wear jeans to work. My upper thighs chafe up by Saturday, if not sooner, and walking miles and miles to different places in the convention center and to the surrounding restaurants and hotels is, to be cute about it, totally balls.
Last Friday night, Lillian stopped in a LUSH about bought me some Vanilla Puff Dusting Powder. She wanted me to try it to see if it would help over the weekend while walking around PAX and the various hotels and restaurants around it. While the weather wasn’t the same as in Indianapolis, it was still fairly hot and without Seattle’s stereotypical rain to break the heat. I also wasn’t wearing the same clothing — at PAX I could wear shorts & cotton shirts, since I wasn’t working. At Gen Con, I wore jeans and polyester shirts, which facilitated sweating. So, this wasn’t a proper controlled experiment, but still useful enough for my purposes of seeing if I would be comfortable.
And I totally was. I used it Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and I felt fresh. I never had that feeling that you get in the bathroom where you use toilet paper to wipe the sweat off from around your testicles. (Remember, sweat has salt in it, and that’s why it’s no lubricant!) I used some every day before getting dressed, and I had it in my bag — in a Ziploc baggie, in case it opened up and spilled inside — just in case I would need to reapply later in the day. For PAX, I didn’t, but I can imagine I might for Gen Con.
After telling some friends about this, a couple responded with “oh yeah, talcum powder for the win.” But since no one’s told me about this before, I figure it’s worth a blog post so that all y’all with testicles can decide if this is right for you.
That, and there was something nice about dusting my bits in vanilla scent that just, I dunno, gave me a bit more spring to my step. It’s a grand ol’ feeling, one we can all enjoy when we’re trekking all over a convention city.
(I mean, individually enjoy by using it on ourselves, not you enjoying my application. It’s daytime right now, people!)
This will be one of the busiest years I’ve had at Gen Con; but unlike other years, it’ll be easy to pin me down! Here’s my schedule:
Panel: Ask the Paizo GMs
Thursday, Aug 15th, 2pm-3pm — ICC 231
James Jacobs, Erik Mona, F. Wesley Schneider, Ryan Macklin
Some of Paizo’s most experienced in-house GMs reveal their best GM secrets & help you troubleshoot your Pathfinder campaign.
Thursday, Aug 15th, 3pm-4pm — Booth #101
Note that I’ll be working across the way at Paizo during the other signing on Sunday.
Panel: Behind the Scenes at Paizo Publishing
Thursday, Aug 15th, 4pm-5pm — ICC 231
Chris Carey, Adam Daigle, Ryan Macklin, Andrew Vallas
How does a Pathfinder product go from a designer’s head to your gaming table? Join Paizo staff for an insider look behind the curtain at Paizo Publishing. How does a Pathfinder RPG product go from a designer’s head to your gaming table? Join Paizo editors, developers, and graphic designers for an insider look behind the curtain at Paizo Publishing.
Panel: Writing & Editing Workshop
Sunday, August 18th, Noon-1pm — ICC 231
Judy Bauer, Logan Bonner, Chris Carey, Ryan Macklin
Join Paizo editors for a workshop aimed at improving writing skills. From using the right words to properly integrating rules content, this seminar will help to take your writing to the next level. Join Paizo editors for a hands-on workshop aimed at improving your writing skills. From using the right words to properly integrating rules content to editing your own work, this informative seminar will help to take your writing to the next level.
The Rest of the Time
If the exhibitors’ hall is open and I’m not at one of the aforementioned events, there’s a good chance that I’ll be at the Paizo Publishing booth (#203, in front of the left-most door to the hall, and prominently displayed on the map.) [Edit: graphical representation of my day hours are on G+.]
I’ll sign whatever. It’s been a running joke in the past few years that I’ll sign any book, but seriously, if you have something you want me to sign, I’m game.
Also, and this is key: this year, I will not be bringing my army of flasks. I might have a couple, but overall, since I won’t be able to go around the hall to give bourbon to my friends. In a sense, I’m calling in a marker: if you’ve appreciated me plying you with fine alcohol over the years, and you happen to have some on you and want to share in the bounty, please swing by and see me. My liver will curse your name, but the rest of me will thank you.
Hope to see you guys at the show!
 Okay, there are limits. I won’t sign your dead dog. Ewww.
 Day Macklin reserves the right to refuse, if accepting in that moment would get him in trouble. Night Macklin, though…
It’s getting to be that time of year, again! I’m sad to say I won’t be at Origins next week–I really do miss that show–but I’ll be elsewhere this summer.
Go Play NW
June 28-30 | goplaynw.org
It’s a little late to tell you about GPNW unless you’re a local, but this remains one of my favorite events of the year. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday, and will more or less freewheel it. There’s only one plan I have for sure right now:
The Upgrade! on Saturday afternoon (link to forum thread to sign up)
It’s time again for the hit reality show, The Upgrade! Three or four couples enter a contest of hearts on an exotic island adventure, where they will engage in challenges and test their love. Will they stay with their partners, or will they upgrade?
This is a jeepform larp, meaning that you can show up in regular clothes and play normal, everyday characters. This game engages themes of sex (meaning 18 and over, please), romance, wacky reality show challenges, awkward confessional moments, and the vast possibilities in the future. (But we won’t bring people to uncomfortable places. You’re always free to speak up.) The Upgrade! plays out half like a farce and half like an emo play.
If you want to know more, check out the game at: http://jeepen.org/games/upgrade/. (That said, don’t read too far into the characters. Some hold amusing surprises, and you don’t want those spoiled for you!)
July 5-7 | paizo.com/paizocon
As you might expect, I’ll be at PaizoCon. Like everyone else at Paizo, I’ll be around playing games, talking at panels, and generally floating around being useful. I’m running two games there:
Mythender (“Stab Odin in the Face”)
Looking to stab a god in the face? How about Odin? He’s a jerk who’s got it coming! In Mythender, you play awesome beings who go around ending the gods of Scandinavia, but all that power comes with a price: you might become a god, and then your friends will have to stab you in the face!
Fiasco: Dragon Slayers (“The Guy Ritchie Movie”)
Sat 8a-1p (though will certainly end earlier than that)
“The bumpkins in this lame mountain town could never have taken down that dragon. So yeah, we rode into town, a bunch of outsiders ready to solve that problem. That’s our dragon, and its gold is our gold, so keep your paws off!” This GM-less game plays out like a wacky Coen Brothers or Guy Ritchie movie, where you play adventurers with powerful ambition, poor impulse control, and a good chance that everything will go down in ruin!
And I’ll be doing some panels:
- Behind the Scenes at Paizo Publishing (Fri 4p-5p)
- Ask the GMs (Fri 5p-6p)
- Editing in the RPG Industry (Fri 6p-7p)
- Horror in RPGs (Fri 9p-10p)
- Writing and Editing Workshop (Sat 1p-2p)
August 15-18 | gencon.com
I don’t know what my schedule will be like yet, but I do know that I’ll be working at the Paizo booth or around Pathfinder event areas throughout the show. I should be easy to spot: just look for the guy with the pink hair in the blue Paizo shirt (I’ll update this as I find out anything further regarding my Gen Con schedule.)
I hope to see you this summer!
Next weekend, I’ll be at MisCon 27 in Missoula, Montana, along with a couple of my cohorts from the Paizo office, Adam Daigle and John Compton. If you’re there, come check us out!
Here’s what I’m on deck for. In addition to this, I’ll be around to play games, chat, drink, and I’ll even have some prototypes to try out.
I’m Never Setting Foot in a Tavern Again. (Gaming)
Fri 2:00 – 2:50 PM, (Containment Room)
Pros and Guests: John Compton, Justin Farrington, Marc Johnson, Ryan Macklin
The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single session. You only get one chance at beginnings, whether for an ongoing campaign or a convention one-shot. Discussion will focus on techniques for getting a game off and running, including tips on preparation, techniques and the judicious use and avoidance of cliches.
Guerrilla Warfare in RPGS (Gaming)
Fri 6:00 – 6:50 PM, (Containment Room)
Pros and Guests: Ryan Goble, Ryan Macklin, Rob McDonell (Illuminati Rob)
How do you GM a resistance-based game where the PCs must fight a guerilla campaign against established, entrenched bad guys? Can they sleep safely in the woods at night, sustain themselves by hunting and gathering, and gain the assistance of local farm folk? How do they build the requisite rag tag army? What about retribution against the peasants suspected of harboring them? How do they eventually kill the evil emperor and lift the people from oppression?
Opening Ceremonies (Geek Discussion)
Fri 7:00 – 7:50 PM, (Containment Room)
Attend our opening ceremonies and watch CthulhuBob cry. Also find out what’s happening at MisCon 27.
Pathfinder: Ask Me Anything (Gaming)
Sat Noon – 12:50 PM, (Containment Room)
Pros and Guests: John Compton, Adam Daigle, Kyle Elliott, Dave Gross, Ryan Macklin
Ask the Paizo guys anything you ever wanted to know about Paizo, Pathfinder, rocket science, theology, plumbing repair, whatever.
Working With Licensed Intellectual Properties (Gaming, Writing)
Sat 5:00 – 5:50 PM, (Containment Room)
Pros and Guests: David Boop, Jim Butcher, John Goff, Dave Gross, Ryan Macklin
A discussion of the issues and pitfalls of working with someone else’s property and dealing with fan expectations of said property.
Mental and Physical Health in the Community (Gaming)
Sat 6:00 – 6:50 PM, (Upstairs Programming 1)
Pros and Guests: Ryan Macklin
A discussion about gamers dealing with depression, anxiety, and physical ailments. Using personal experiences, we explore strategies to overcome it, including tapping into our communities.
Improvisational GMing Workshop (Gaming)
Sun Noon – 1:50 PM, (Upstairs Programming 2)
Pros and Guests: Ryan Macklin
Ryan Macklin will run a 2-hour, hands-on workshop on GMing techniques, based on the problems you’re dealing with today. He’ll help you find ways to address problems with preparation and adaptation, dealing with people at the table, and executing a smooth session. Get and keep your players hooked on your game while making your GMing easier with Ryan’s help.
Getting The Most Out Of Working With Editors (Gaming)
Mon 11:00 – 11:50 AM, (The Cave)
Pros and Guests: Adam Daigle, Ryan Macklin
Learn how to find an editor, establish a good rapport with them, and how to get the most out of that relationship. Lead by editors who are Industry Insider guests!
Closing Ceremonies (Geek Discussion)
Mon 3:00 – 3:50 PM, (Great Hall)
Come see CthulhuBob cry for joy and catch a sneak peek at what’s in store for you next year at MisCon 28 May 2014.