Saturday, August 22, 2009

[RPG Blog Carnival] My convention experiences - where to go for inspiration

Have you heard of RPG Blog Carnival? I hadn't either, but I actually participated in it one month! Someone had posted something interesting and I used it as inspiration for a post of my own. Oddly enough I forgot about it afterwards, and not everyone had tagged things so it was easy to find either. I'll try to be very clear. In short, the idea is to post themed posts, and they will be collected in a closing post by the host of that month. For the month of August the host is Chgowiz, and since I follow his blog I actually noticed it from the start. This time the theme is conventions, ren fairs and carnivals. Here we go.

I used to be a fairly regular visitor to conventions when I was younger. Around the year I had a few regular stops, and looking forward to the next one was part of the gaming calendar. Back then I lived in Sweden (regular readers know I have been living in Canada, but now I'm actually once again in Sweden), where none of the gaming conventions are trade shows with booths and game companies attending. I have never been to a game convention that is in any way oriented around commerce and selling stuff. It's all by the fans, for the fans. I went there with my friends to play with my friends, and try new stuff in tournaments and events. It did happen that tournaments started off with teams that had to few players show up, and I liked to join a few of those. But, it was never anything I used as a way to meet and talk to other gamers. I now see it as lost opportunities for broadening the mind. After many years like that, I got out of the loop. We did go back once (many years later) and visited two conventions, but then our children were born and nothing much came out of that experiment. Even though I married a gamer we haven't really been to game conventions together.

My Canadian experiences of conventions are almost all about science fiction conventions, not gaming cons. The latest one was of course the World Con, Anticipation, in Montréal this August. Apart from not knowing much about where to find Canadian game convetions, they also have the benefit of being easier to attend with children. Often when I come home from those conventions, where I also didn't go to meet people really, I came home with a sense of having explored something new and gotten new ideas. For very obvious reasons I also many times felt like I should try my hand at writing some fiction myself. That never happened. But, I found it interesting now after Anticipation to compare these two experiences. Maybe I could use that kind of enthusiasm I got from sf cons for gaming? Being a DM is creative work, and hearing people talk about fiction is of course a little like hearing somebody talk about their really engaging campaign. Also, every kind of panel on writing is usable. One clear example is a panel I listened to at Ad Astra this year, about how to write engaging combat scenes. Some of the advice was definitely usable from a gaming perspective. Nothing is new with the idea of bringing in ideas from something other than the usual places, but this struck me as a very suitable and for me untapped resource. It will be interesting to see what I can do with that, and maybe it can give somebody else who reads this an idea or two. Enjoy!

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