As with every convention I have attended this year, I learned a lot at GASP-Con. And, as I have done with every convention I have attended this year, I am about to regale you all with the things I learned. Strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride.
I did not have as good of a time at GASP-Con as I expected to. Part of that is the fault of the convention, but most of the blame lies with me for own good time. I approached this convention in the wrong way and I think that has been true for every convention that I have attended this year, to one extent or another. When I went to Origins, I did well. I decided to, for the most part, let the convention take me where it would. I had some great experiences, met some great people and played in some great games. With every convention (aside from KantCon), I have tried to do the same thing, and it has mostly backfired. As I look back, I see that I have made it the job of the convention to provide my good time. To an extent, that is the case; if the convention doesn’t offer a good selection of games, vendors and other activities, then that’s a failing on the part of the convention. However, if you go to a convention just expecting to have a good time happen to you, then I think you’re doing ti wrong, especially if you’re going to a smaller convention like GASP-Con or KantCon.
Bigger conventions have a lot more options and you can get by with generic tokens and a sense of adventure. With the smaller local conventions, it is almost vital to do your research ahead of time and figure out what you’re going to do when you get there. Look at the event list, for the love of all things holy, make sure that you don’t miss the event registration cutoff and script your weekend. As well, get a feel for who is running the convention and make sure that the convention will be a good fit for you. I did all of that, to the letter, for KantCon. I had a blast. I did none of that for GASP-Con and I had far from as good of a time as I could have had. I should have prepared more effectively.
In terms of what could have been improved about the convention itself, the only thing that comes to mind in the venue. It took place on the top floor of Best Western and it was, in a word, crowded. It wasn’t always easy to navigate the narrow hallways and making your way through the boardgame area was a challenge when the convention was in full swing. I got the indication that they might be in a different venue next year, so that won’t be a problem for long. Everything else that I found lacking in the convention fall under the category of “things that I should have been aware of before I went.” The RPG events were split pretty evenly between Super-Mainstream Games (4e) and Super-Independent Games (How We Came to Live Here, Steal Away Jordan). And the games that fell between those categories weren’t games I was terribly interested in. I should have looked at that before I went. I should have taken the time to consider whether or not I would enjoy the events, rather than just trusting to fate to steer me in the right direction.
GASP-Con was well run, well attended and offered a good selection of games. That said, I don’t know if it’s the convention for me. It turns out that I wanted another KantCon experience, complete with Savage Worlds and Pathfinder and cool people with which to hang out. GASP-Con offered the last of those three things. It’s not the conventions fault that it didn’t have a bunch of games I wanted to play; the people playing seemed like they were having a blast. It’s like wanting a Hot Fudge Sundae, not even admitting to yourself that you wanted said Hot Fudge Sundae and then being disappointed when someone hands you an excellent Strawberry Milkshake. You didn’t even tell yourself that you wanted the Sundae, so do what you will with the milkshake, just don’t complain that it’s a milkshake.
Tortuously long metaphors aside, GASP-Con was a good time if you wanted what was offered. I should have known that going in, so my lack of good time is squarely on me, not on GASP-Con. To everyone who worked to make it a great weekend of gaming, thank you. Just because I wasn’t appreciating your efforts at the time doesn’t mean that you didn’t do an amazing job. I don’t know if I’ll be attending next year, but if I do, rest assured I will do my homework ahead of time and prepare myself to have a good time rather than expecting you to hand a good time to me on a silver platter.
[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, conventions GASP-Con[/tags]