Life Lessons From Gencon 2012

In no particular order, these are snippets of information that I’ve gleaned from all of my visits to Gencon, this year’s visit has allowed me some further clarity on a few things. I do hope you enjoy.

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  • Anti-chafing Gel – If you’re a hairy bastard like I am, or chubby enough to have your thighs rub together like I am then do yourself a favor and get some anti-chafing gel. Put it on in the morning before you go out, trust me. My legs didn’t get raw/red from walking all day every day, which resulted in not walking funny, which resulted in not getting blisters on my feet or feeling physically fatigued nonstop. Best 6$ I’ve spent in a while.
  • Parking – Research parking garages or try and get info from locals about them before heading down, arrive early so the good ones aren’t filled up. We wound up paying over 120$ in parking which is complete and total bullshit, avoid this at all costs.
  • Demo Games! – Consider foregoing playing games you already know about and learn to play or learn about ones you’ve been interested for a while, you’ll feel glad that you did. Either you’ll love the game and feel happy about it, or you’ll at least feel as if you’ve scratched another thing off your list to potentially waste money on. This year I finally learned to play Warmachine and I couldn’t be happier about it, also learned quite a bit about Hackmaster and have added it to my infinite list of games to check out.
  • Twitter Isn’t Good Enough – By the time you tweet “who wants to meet up” or “are you available for X” that person will probably be long occupied with something else. Try and plan games and meet ups, exchange phone numbers and make phone calls, it may be the only way you manage to gather up the dream team of people you want to game with from your friend feed. I relied on twitter this year and I wholly regret it.
  • Don’t Be A Dickstarter – Asking for $50k to get your project off the ground and then dumping thousands of dollars into advertising your nonexistent software you plan to outsource to a 3rd party, hiring a dozen “babes” to wear costumes for you all weekend at Gencon, and throwing party via a rented out nightclub with an open bar for all your attendees is all pretty asinine. I should also mention that women (or men) in bikini’s don’t sit poolside and play D&D. Ever.
  • Walk Up To People – That design your favorite games, make your favorite artwork, or whatever it is that they do that you love and be brief but enthusiastic in telling them how awesome they are and how much you appreciate them. This is a feeling that never gets old, trust me.
  • Dunkaroos Are Still Fucking Awesome – Because in Canada, 1994 never came. Thanks to Geeky Lyndsay for taking the running twitter food/jokes/debate and running with them. I know d20Monkey was packin’ some combos too. Also thanks to all of our Canadian friends who brought us eldritch chocolates from your strange land! Coffee Crisp![/fancy_list]

That’s it for today, tomorrow I’ve got a game review and then later on during the week some more and deeper thoughts on gaming, the game industry, its people and why we do what we do.


  1. One of my primary goals was to meet my twitter friends. I saw you at d20Monkey’s seminar but didn’t get a chance to say Hi.


    Anyway – Your point about walking up to game designers was right on the money. I was walking by the WotC booth and Mike Mearls happened to be inside chatting with someone. I hovered around until he was available and swooped in. I told him how much I appreciated the dirction Next was going and thanked him for all the hard work they were doing. He seemed embarrassed by the attention but thanked me. (I swear I wasn’t a drooling fan boy, at least, I think…).

    Next year’s goal is to PLAY ALL THE GAMES!

  2. lemme guess it was those guys who made ascension working on the new digital card game. I saw their website and instantly got the feeling they were just scamming people. Basicly they want everyone else to pay for their game so they can blow all these donations on whatever and steal all the profit of the product they never invested in. What a scam. A professional company would give you shares in the profits based on your contributions. Their prize for donating 3000 dollars is ‘a magic the gathering lesson from some pompous douchbag.’ WHOO!

  3. I saw they had a video begging for money from people even. all explaining how broke they are with a nice hd videocamera, wearing a 500 dollar watch in front of a 6000 dollar computer rig. Then Brian Kibler who has spent more on magic the gathering cards then their maximum kickstarter goal. Then also I have to ask where are their profits from Ascension?
    Company’s get business loans for these things not go shamelessly begging for free cash from gamers that are stereotypically broke.

    I have seen people put in jail for fraud like this.

    here is how real life works…
    1. establish credit
    2. get a business loan
    3. sell your product
    4. either profit from a good product or suck up your losses.

    1. beg for money from everyone
    2. sell your product
    3. profit without risk or possibility of loss from conning people.

  4. I’m not sure which was the mystery company was, but I recall one booth promoting some piece of software for online play of tabletop RPGs. Didn’t pay much attention to it.

    Me, I’m starting to get annoyed with the whole Kickstarter thing. More and more it seems to be employed by companies that already ought to have the necessary resources to launch their products. Does Steve Jackson Games *really* need a Kickstarter for a rerelease of Ogre? Or this Reaper Miniatures one:

    $1,872,850 raised against a $30,000 goal? Seems like they’re simply launching a new line and trying to get people to buy the entire magilla in advance.

  5. No dispute that it’s a good deal, assuming that they can actually deliver that much product in a timely manner. Not my point at all.

    It was unnecessary to take it to Kickstarter in the first place. This is Reaper Miniatures, not some scrappy fledgling publisher. Obviously the demand already was there; they’re at 6300% percent of their stated goal.

    At this point, Kickstarter seems less about crowdfunding needy projects than serving as a marketing platform for well-established companies to solicit pre-orders.

    I think it was disingenuous to dangle a laundry list of “stretch goals” to entice snowballing numbers of “backers” when they could’ve been up front about what they were planning to offer and the price at which they were willing to sell it. That package was a good enough deal that they could’ve just posted the entire thing to their own web site and watched the pre-orders roll in.

    I’m just tired of all the hype associated with these Kickstarters. It seems like every other board game these days has a Kickstarter. And again, Steve Jackson Games? Please. “Munchkin” is their crowdfunding source.

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