Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting my game on - preparing for Gen Con 2011

I’m mentally getting ready to go to Gen Con.  Now for those of you out there that don’t know what Gen Con is, let me lay it out for you.  It is a science fiction/gaming convention in Indianapolis.  That sentence doesn’t really do it justice.  Picture, if you will, 30,000 nerds and geeks converging on a Midwest city for four days to play every kind of game conceivable.  Many of them (not me!) are dressed in everything from Goth to Steampunk to superhero to anime character. 

They are a fun-loving group, but geeky beyond all definition.  Obviously I fit in perfectly. 

Why do I go?  Well, I am a writer in the game industry.  My 12 novels have been tied to the BattleTech (MechWarrior) games.  Many of my early books were tied to other games.  I even do a little game design on the side.  Truth be told I was playing D&D back in the era when it first came out (in the little white boxed set which I still have).   I got into gaming by playing wargames, so when role-playing-games (RPGs) came out it was a logical leap for me.  Hell, back in high school, Tim Hopkins and I went to game conventions at Oakland University back in 1978. 

Yes, I am an uber-geek and Gen Con is like some sort of weird mental pilgrimage for me every time I go.  

This year I am looking forward to a game I did some work on, Leviathans!, to be released at the convention.  If you haven’t checked it out you should – since it is a game that will really be the big steampunk release at the convention.  Catalyst Game Labs has been working on this miniatures board game for some time and (if all goes well) we’ll get a chance to see it at Gen Con for the first time.  My son Alex is going with me and I think he’ll get a kick out of seeing the final product being released (with his name in the list of playtesters).  I really want to get a chance to play Leviathans! and see how people react to it. 

I don’t do a lot of pre-planning for the convention.  Alex and I both enjoy the showroom floor the most.  I sometimes join in game demos, sometimes I sign up for events and play them.  I hope this year to get in some Flames of War (WWII miniatures) gaming as well as a chance to actually play BattleTech.   While I have written over a million words for BattleTech, I really don’t play it too often.  It’s always a challenge at the cons because:  1.  People assume I know the rules inside and out and that’s not always the case.  2.  There’s always someone who wants to say, “I killed the author!” which paints me as a marked man. 

While I’m here I will be doing a book signing over at the Catalyst booth at some point – so you’ll see me there.  I have some friends I am hoping to meet and chat with about the industry and stuff.  But mostly, I am looking forward to doing some gaming. 

There are a few things I don’t like about Gen Con.  Sometimes there are people that need a bath in all honesty.  I also don’t like convention food (Alex and I sneak off to the nearby mall for a meal – well worth the walk).  

The things I enjoy the most are the people, the industry insiders I know, and the occasional fan that I bump into.  I love watching the miniatures battles unfold.  Some people prepare a full year in advance to put on a hell of a show for the attendees.  I love doing some shopping in the game hall, and sitting through the auction (which is always a treat).  The Mech Pods are a blast – especially for me as an author that writes material related to them (last year my son handed me my butt in a basket, wasting his old man in two sessions).  The final thing I like is the people of Indianapolis who always seem warm and inviting to all of us nerds and geeks. 

So, who’s going to be there this year?

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