Convention Season: DunDraCon

[This is the fifth in my series of game convention retrospectives, in an attempt to draw general conclusions about improving attendees’ and organizers’ convention experience.]

The One that Got Away: DunDraCon

(San Ramon Mariott, San Francisco Bay Area)

DunDracon, held every February during Memorial Day Weekend from Friday through Monday, has seen 36 editions — making the oldest in the list.  It has a solid role-playing focus with a good amount of all types of other games, Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) presence, costuming, and panels.

Every time we have been at this convention we have run lots of role-playing games and the occasional miniatures or RPG tournament.  This used to be my favourite convention, my benchmark for what I hoped a convention would look like.

(Things that went well, things that went poorly: after the cut.)

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Convention Season: Convolution

[This is the fourth in my series of game convention retrospectives, in an attempt to draw general conclusions about improving attendees’ and organizers’ convention experience.]

Foray into SFF Land: Convolution

(San Francisco Airport Hyatt-Regency, San Francisco Bay Area)

Convolution was its very first year, held on the first weekend in November; it’s a little off the beaten path for us because it’s a science-fiction and fantasy convention, but they were trying to get a small gaming section established and we were asked to run games.   We live minutes from the location, so we agreed.

There was a very nice space dedicated to games of all types during the day and a different one, also very aesthetically pleasing, for the evenings.  Games included live-action role-playing (LARP), card games (Steve Jackson was a guest and there was a Munchkin tournament), a few board games, and a little bit of tabletop role-playing.

To be honest, the draw of SFF conventions rather escapes me because I am not much into costuming or autographs, nor do I have aspirations to becoming a novelist, so that doesn’t leave much to do; a visit of the dealers’ room, and that’s about it.  So I will be a bit more limited in my comments because my focus was gaming and I did not attend the bulk of activities.

(Things that went well, things that went poorly: after the cut.)

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Convention Season: Big Bad Con

[This is the third in my series of game convention retrospectives, in an attempt to draw general conclusions about improving attendees’ and organizers’ convention experience.]

The Con of my Heart: Big Bad Con

(Oakland Airport Hilton, San Francisco Bay Area)

Big Bad Con was only in its second year, and we volunteered both times to host Games on Demand as well as regularly scheduled games, and supply the lending library of games.  The event, held on the first weekend in October from Friday Through Sunday, strongly focuses on role-playing games though we saw some board games as well this year; the intention is to add gradually once the core of the convention is well established.

(Things that went well, things that went poorly: after the cut.)

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Convention Season: Pacificon

[This is the second in my series of game convention retrospectives, in an attempt to draw general conclusions about improving attendees’ and organizers’ convention experience.]

Sponsor Care: Pacificon

(Santa Clara Mariott, San Francisco Bay Area)

Pacificon Game Expo, held every Labour Day weekend from Friday through Monday, is another well-established convention of 31 years; it’s best known for its wargame and miniatures game section but with significant board gaming and role-playing.  It is run for-profit by a group that bought it about a decade ago from the previous organizers, and the current direction is to encourage more role-playing.

Edmund and I have volunteered as staff for other events run by the same organization before, and we were asked to run games this year to showcase the Mistborn Adventure Game, the new game published by the biggest sponsor of the convention, Crafty Games.

(Things that went well, things that went poorly: after the cut.)

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Convention Season: Dragonflight

[This is the first in my series of game convention retrospectives, in an attempt to draw general conclusions about improving attendees’ and organizers’ convention experience.]

A Happy Surprise: Dragonflight

Dragonflight logo(Bellevue Hilton, Seattle Area)

Dragonflight Game Convention was in its 33rd edition under the auspices of the same non-profit volunteer group, and keeps a local focus.  Over the years, it has fluctuated between 350 and 600 attendees over the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), which is always the second in August. Although it started with a focus on role-playing, nowadays its strongest are is board gaming and wargaming.  Miniatures gaming used to be strong, but has been decimated in the last couple of years (more on this in a moment.)

Edmund and I have been volunteering as staff with Dragonflight since 2007; even after we moved away, we kept on doing as much as we could from far away, like promo and event organization; in particular, I’ve been preparing the convention program since 2008.  This year, because of the kindness of the Dragonflight organizers and our friends’ generosity, we were able to attend for the first time in years.

(Things that went well, things that went poorly: after the cut.)

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Convention Season: What Works, What Doesn’t

[This was going to be a very long post, so I’m splitting it into linked segments.]

Things were a little wild for us this year, convention-wise.  It was entirely unexpected too, because we’re so broke that we have no money at all to attend convention, so how did we attend four???  Answer: we have fantastic friends, we worked our butts off for all those conventions, and three of them were close enough that we could drive home at night and save hotel costs.  I’d like to review state-of-the-art game “conventioneering” and share some thoughts.  In addition, I’ll add some considerations of conventions we’re choosing not to attend, and why.

That means there will be criticism; if it’s your convention, your work, your friends, or your ideas I’m criticising, please know that it’s in an effort to draw general “con”clusions (haha), not to pick on you.  You probably have very good reasons you did things a certain way, reacting to crises as they arose; I’m talking about a general approach here.

The Line-Up: