I managed to get my daily updates for Origins done for at least the first three days of the convention. I was hoping to be able to get daily info posted for each day of the convention, but by the time Saturday rolled around, I barely knew what to do with myself. This convention, much like last year’s Origins, was an intensely personal, excellent experience. I will do my level best to explain in the following paragraphs.
Last year at Origins marked an expansion of my gaming horizon like I had never before experienced. Prior to Origins 2010, I had never played an RPG that required any dice for conflict resolution aside from a d20. I spent the entire extended weekend experiencing new games and gaming in new ways. It confirmed for me how amazing the hobby of tabletop roleplaying games can be. I wasn’t sure if this year would live up to the high bar that Origins 2010 had set. Well, it did, but not in the way I expected.
It’s all about the people, stupid
Thanks to Twitter, I had made plans to game with some really awesome people. What I hadn’t counted on was all of the new people that I was going to be meeting at Origins 2011. I met, talk with and hung out with (in no particular order), almost the entire crew from Evil Hat who were responsible for the Dresden Files rpg, Will Hindmarch, who is a hugely accomplish freelancer in the RPG industry, Ken Hite, whose accomplishments are things of legend, Dave Chalker and E. Foley, gamers and blogger, par excellance, Jason Morningstar, creator of Fiasco, Shane Hensley of Pinnacle Entertainment, Sean Preston and Dave from Reality Blurs, Tom Cadorette, Bob and Jody, fantastic gamers from the DC area, Jeremy Keller, creator of Chronica Fudalis and Technoir, and many other people who are unfortunately slipping my mind right now. Go on, Google those people. See what you come up with. And embarrassment of gaming riches, that’s what.
I learned last year that game designers are just people, like me. This year I learned how awesome and amazing those people can be. More times than I care to count during Origins, I looked around at who I was talking to, thought about the content of the conversation, or how wonderfully the game was going, and I thought “Is this my life? Really? Awesome!” It was surreal and awesome and, in the moment of it all, I had a very hard time getting my thoughts together to say anything more than “This is awesome!” Not exactly great blog content.
Suffice it to say, the most important thing I learned at Origins was the it is people around you that make a convention what it can be. No organizational issues, no missed appointments and no shitty game experiences can stick with you long if you’ve got an amazing crew of people that you know and can hang with.
Not all sunshine and roses
That’s not to say that there weren’t issues with the convention. In fact, most of the issues stemmed from Origins itself, and the way that GAMA organized it. Or, not to the point, how they did not. I had issues getting my media badge (not major issues, but still…), and more people than I care to count, including one of the Guests of Honor, related huge issues with the scheduling of their official events. Vendors who were supposed to appear in the Media Room for interviews didn’t know when they had been scheduled. Events were mis-printed. The book stated that the event was to start at 7pm, but it wasn’t really even supposed to start until 8. Even then, it didn’t begin until 8:30 and was very poorly attended.
GAMA, you ask that us media types send you our coverage. So please, read this: fix your convention. Take a page from PAX and empower your volunteers. Make sure you know when and where events are supposed to happen. And, for the love of all things holy, don’t give people the runaround when they are looking for help. It’s like you’ve got seventeen left hands that don’t know what the other twenty-three right hands are doing. Fix. It.
Oh, and moving the dates for the next two years to the end of May? Ouch. I hope I’m able to attend so I can see my friends, but it’s looking grim. And I am far from the only one with this issue.
All what you make of it
Organizational issues aside, I made Origins a great convention. I took the time to find people on Twitter that worked for and on products that I love and respect. I made the effort to find these people (both at PAX East and Origins) and I worked to be someone that people would want to talk to. It all paid off with rewards like I cannot even describe. I didn’t just meet people, I made new friends and new contacts in the industry. This is not something that only I am capable of. So, if you spend time at conventions like Origins, go find the people you like and respect. Try to game with them, talk to them. Be cool and don’t freak out. Be you and let what happens happen.
I got some great interviews and game session recordings this year and you will be able to begin listening to them sometime next week, assuming I have time to write while prepping for KantCon. I hope you enjoyed my Origins coverage. If you can make it out next year (or to KantCon, GenCon or Con on the Cob this year), I’d love to hang with you. Find me on Twitter and make it happen.