Apr 122010
 

KantCon is one of those rare and magical things – a brand new gaming convention born out of need and desperation.  The need of a local (to Kansas City, KS that is) convention and the desperation of having only one bathroom available to an entire gaming convention.

What happens when one Kansas resident finds out he won’t be making it to GenCon for the first time in 13 years?  He creates his own damned gaming convention to occur at the same time.  Little does he realize that in a years time it will grow from thirty-some-odd attendees to a convention space with numerous bathrooms and no one stuck rolling dice on the bed.  Welcome to KantCon.


In my book, that qualifies for the Pure Awesome Award in Gaming Dedication.  I don’t give out PAAGDs lightly – but starting your own gaming convention takes gumption.

If you’re anywhere near Overland Park, Kansas and have some free time between July 9th through the 11th you will certainly want to check out KantCon.   You can attend and enjoy several days of gaming, or register to run an event as well.  Can’t make it but want to help out?  Here’s a quick way to do so.

I recently spoke with Ethan, the founder of KantCon on what it took to get a gaming convention like this off the ground.

Well, to be honest, KantCon came about because last year was the first year I couldn’t go to Gen Con in 13 years.  I’m a creature of habit, and Gen Con is/was my annual vacation from the world – no family, no drama, no worries for four days.  It was a time I would get away and relax, leave the world behind, and enjoy the hobby I love so much.

Back in 2008, I worked three different jobs, and got laid off three times.

So, after getting knocked off my horse three times in one year, and basically watching my bank account dwindle to nothing.  And I mean nothing.   I was laid off the last time the week before Gen Con, and I went anyway, as it was my damn vacation, and I had money saved for it.

I came back to Kansas after Gen Con 2008, and looked at jobs briefly.  As you know, the job market at that point was pretty much nonexistent.  So, I hunkered down and started doing school full time.  I didn’t have a job, and I completely subsisted off the kindness of my family.  And they weren’t going to foot the bill to Gen Con 2009 – I had no illusions about that.

So, the months passed, and I got more and more bummed that I was going to miss Gen Con for the first time in 13 years.  Then, an idea hit me … I could have my own convention with all my friends.  And I could do it on Gen Con weekend to distract me from being horribly depressed about not being in Indianapolis.  I thought, “What should I call this thing?”

Then it came to me … KantCon! The name served several purposes in my mind.  Obviously, KantCon is for those of us who can’t con, therefore it is called KantCon.  KantCon is in Kansas City, so “KC” was worked in as well.  And it was catchy.

I set out to organize and get friends and friends of friends to come who were interested in three days of gaming goodness.  I used some of my excess student loan money (I know, not the best use) to get some canvas bags, iron-on transfers, and dice made up, and treated KantCon like any other big convention.  I made swag bags, took up a collection to get Chessex to make some KantCon dice, and made KantCon t-shirts for those who wanted them.  My sister-in-law is a graphic designer, and she did a KantCon logo for us.  My mother is a seamstress master, and she made some dice bags to give to people running RPG games.

And I started telling some companies about my story, and asked if they would send stuff to give away as prizes.  The response from the gaming community was marvelous.  We had over $2000 worth of product come in to give away, and we gave away everything!  We got stuff from Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Quarterly, Green Ronin Publishing, and countless others.  Their support was fantastic!  I can only assume I struck a chord with them over some aspect of KantCon’s intentions.

KantCon 2009 ran last August.  It was held in the residence of my co-host and friend, Jeremy.  The most people we had at one time was 30 people crammed into that tiny house.  We ran board and card games on Friday night, then RPGs all day on Saturday, and miniatures games on Sunday.  We met new and interesting people, and new and interesting people met us.  It was good to see old friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and it was nice to see people just have fun with this great hobby for three days.

At the end of it all, everyone said the same thing, “When are we doing this again?”

I thought about that, and figured I’d do it again.  Word started spreading, and my friends were telling me they knew people who would come to KantCon, if they could.  I ran ideas past the attendees, and quickly figured out that with the amount of people we were talking about, having it at Jeremy’s house wasn’t going to be an option.  More than 30 people and only one bathroom … I shudder to think about that.

So, I started delegating some duties (as I pretty much was the one-man-show-runner last year) and we started looking for a venue.  Interestingly enough, we ran into some places that, once they found out what we were organizing, refused to talk with us further.  It came to Johnson County Community College, who were very open to the idea, and worked with us in the planning and scheduling phase.  I incorporated Gamer’s Haven as a nonprofit social club to book the venue, and secured event insurance shortly thereafter.

That’s something that I want people to know — I am not making money off of this.  I have no illusions about paying my bills, or becoming rich with KantCon.  I just want KantCon to be an event that gamers can go to and enjoy this hobby.  I am charging people to attend only to cover my costs, which is why I’m posting the budget on the website.  If any money is made in this venture, it will be minimal at best.  The figures on the site do not include webhosting, marketing, or any of those figures.  I fully expect to lose money on this, but I’d rather be closer to breaking even than being in the hole.

So, that being said, KantCon’s happening, one way or another on July 9th, 10th, and 11th at the Johnson County Community College.

If you want to give your own input or find out more about the convention, stop by the forums, or head over to the KantCon site.  If you happen to be in game design or publishing, I’m sure the folks running KantCon would love to talk to you as well!

[tags]conventions, rpg, role playing games, kantcon[/tags]

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  5 Responses to “KantCon – for those who can’t con (Kansas City Gaming Convention)”

  1. I’m a member of The Gamer’s Haven, and will be attending KantCon this year. I’ve been a fan of the GH podcasts for a while, now, and am really excited for July to roll around. I’ll be running a few events at KantCon and, of course, will be providing coverage for Troll in the Corner while I’m there.

  2. […] all saw the post that Ben wrote about KantCon, and I hope to see many TC readers there. Since it’s a little over two months […]

  3. Awesome! Really cool to see something like this starting up in the KC area, heaven knows we need more cons out here! Big props to this guy for getting something so ambitious started. Personally I wish it catered more to electronic gaming, but I still suport the cause 8D. Ya might see me there. Good luck!

  4. Definitely hope to see you there, man. The more, the merrier.

  5. […] interview with KantCon founder, Ethan Parker of The Gamer’s Haven, then you can find it here. That interview cover’s Ethan’s reasons for starting a convention, as well as what […]

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