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Gencon 2015

Hello everyone! A week after the convention, it seems that Nick and I are finally getting around to writing about our Gencon experiences. This year was probably my favorite year that I’ve gone. The only bad part was catching the con plague, which, at this point, I expected. I was really happy with all the games I played, we always had really great party members (both in and out of game), and the food and beer was, as always, delicious. Warning: selfies abound.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning started out by getting up super early in order to try to get to Indianapolis by evening. Since we’re all based around Youngstown, this isn’t the worst drive in the world, but it is pretty long. Usually, I just fall asleep right away and wake up as we’re pulling into the driveway of the house at which we are staying, but this year, I stayed up.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably noticed me constantly tweeting to or about Nick and using the hashtag “#RoadtoGencon.” These tweets aren’t particularly interesting, but they certainly amused me on the way up.

When we finally got to the house, we unpacked and chilled for a while before going to Sun King’s tapping party. If you’ve never been to this and are above 21, you should make a point to go. I positively adore Sun King beer and the official Gencon beer is always on point.

This year’s beer was “Drink On and Prosper.” I took that advice to heart during the convention (those of you who also follow me on Untapped already knew this). After the tapping party, we basically just went to sleep.

Thursday

This is always my favorite day of Gencon, and, as such, I usually don’t schedule a ton of events. I give myself about 2 hours to roam the vendor hall before even scheduling anything.

As usual, everyone was packed in at 10 AM waiting to get into the vendor hall. Once the doors opened, everyone swarmed in and weaved in all around the aisles. It, as usually, stayed consistently crowded all 4 days.

Writing Comics: Writing Women Friendly Comics

This was my first event of Gencon and it ended up getting a lot of attention via The Mary Sue.

Yes, Bill Willingham was the embodiment of the “dissenting opinions” the description warned about. Yes, everything you read on TMS actually happened. No, I don’t think Bill Willingham is sexist.

Willingham started out with a really interesting question: “what do you (the women in the crowd) consider to be a welcoming comic?” A lot of the answers boiled down to representation in the form of a strong female character. I can’t really argue with that and everyone seemed to be on the same page. As the panel went on, however, it was clear that Willingham had very different ideas about making woman-friendly comics.

Like all of the panelists, he basically had his mind made up before the event started. I know that it was upsetting to a lot of the audience members, but it works for Willingham, I think. I don’t think he truly thinks there’s a problem or, if he does, he doesn’t think that it is as serious as most people claim. To him, from what I gathered, we need to include good female characters because that’s how you make good comics. Moreover, we can’t demonize comics for having teams of straight white males because that’s not fair to those creators.

The second part I agree wholeheartedly on. I think that trends are more important that attacking individual comics unless something truly atrocious is happening with that comic. That being said, straight white men are not subjected to the same lack of consideration that creators of other genders, races, sexualités, etc, are subjected through. You can’t just consider one female creator and consider it “adding diversity.” We can have the conversation about so and so being the best person for the job when the trend starts to become more equal.

I also think that, on some level, Willingham and some of the audience members came looking for a fight. This cause the outburst at the end. However, again, this is just me speculating. I was only inside my own head during that panel.

I think that the panel would have gone better if Willingham would not have been the moderator. That I think was the biggest error. I don’t mind people with differing opinions on these types of panels, but having someone with an opinion that’s super far out there be the moderator was a mistake.

On a happier note, Gene Ha drew me during the panel. It came out really nice. He even got my giant forehead right!:

The rest of Thursday was not nearly as exciting. I made a friend sharing am outlet I found to charge my phone. We ate at a food truck and eventually went out to get dinner at a huge tap house with a ton of beers. The food was awesome, but my unexpected highlight from that was hearing all of the regional variations for a Rotten Apple (Angry Orchard and Guinness).

Friday

Friday began, as most days do, around midnight with everyone bugging me to make sure I wake up on time. 8AM rolls around and as I eat breakfast, I find I’m the only one that’s listened.

That day, I decided to cosplay my Bombshell Black Canary costume. I don’t have many good pictures of it since I took it off almost immediately.

Also on Friday, one of the people traveling with us gave me a Cake for my birthday!

If you can’t already tell, I super like Adventure Time and open-mouth selfies.

But, I digress, here’s what I did that day:

Women in Gaming

If you’ve read basically any of my blog posts before, you’ll know that I loved this panel last year, so I was super excited to go again. Nicole Lindroos (who is bae) and Elisa Teague  (who I later cornered in a bathroom to gush about the panel) made an appearance again, but the rest of the panelists were new this year.

The conversation was definitely different than the one last year, but the message was the same: get more women into gaming and the gaming industry.

What I found most interesting was the inclusion of the discussion of motherhood in regards to gaming. They suggested several times that mothers were an untapped market, and, by including children’s games, you get the mothers as well.

Flapjacks and Sasquatches

I love this game so much.

This was my favorite non-rpg that we played (and not just because I won). It’s really well done and has an elegant rules system that makes it easy for literally anyone to pick up the game.

I won’t continue on because I want everyone to go out and buy it to see how awesome it is for themselves.

Call of Cthulhu”

I put this in quotation marks because it’s not that game.

Rather, it was a cooperative storytelling game. We had to build upon each others narrative and end with Cthulhu rising from the depths and taking over 1970s London.

There were very few rules to this game, which made it work. I think that it can be modified even further and would make a great car ride game.

Titansgrave Q&A

Disclaimer: I’ve never actually seen Titansgrave.

I got a ticket for this panel under the assumption that I would have watched Titansgrave between the time I got the ticket and the time of the panel. I was so very wrong.

That being said, I still generally followed the Q&A, though Nick had to explain most of the jokes. I found the process they did for it really fascinating since it’s a super hard type of show to roll out. I know that I even find podcasts of people just playing to be pretty tedious. However, it seems like a few people have heard of this show and I think they like it, so I’ll have to check it out.

Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers

I try to go to a Mark Gunn concert every year since I think he’s hilarious. I usually go to “Firefly Drinking Songs,” but this year, “Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers” caught my eye (for obvious reasons).

This was filled with classic songs (and even a sea shanty) about the things cats do that we love and hate, but mostly love.

10/10 would sing about cats again.

Shadowrun

I have been wanting to play Shadowrun for so long.

There actually ended up being a mixup with our game though. Instead of playing the game we signed up for, we actually just ended up creating characters. That honestly wasn’t a big deal though since we got to play them in a game that took generics right after.

I made a troll named Bathilda. She killed an old woman.

Shadowrun has a super awesome setting, but I’m not terribly sold on the mechanics. The rules, in my opinion, needed to be consolidated a lot. I did, however, think that a lot of rules were interesting. I liked the positive-negative traits system they had and it made it feel like my character sheet was a bit more personality rather than straight up ability focused.

After Shadowrun, we headed back to the house, where, again, everyone got on my case to get up on time.

Saturday

Come 7AM, I’m the only one up.

The morning was probably the most stressful part of the day. I was breaking out my brand new Sailor Scout Princess Bubblegum costume. I got to paint myself pink and everything.

It’s probably one of the more attractive pictures I’ve taken.

So, after about 2 hours, I am finally painted and ready to get my costume on, which took about five minutes. Then, we were ready to go, until I realized I didn’t have a badge.

Eventually, we got out the door and even managed to make it to our first event on time.

Proof that I eventually got into the car ready to go:

Women in Games After Gamergate

I was pretty interested in going to this panel, which Nick also attended. I wouldn’t say that I was ever targeted by Gamergate or anything, but I certainly got some weird emails and messages after one of my blog posts was submitted to /r/KotakuinAction.

The women on the panel had been greatly affected by Gamergate. They received death and rape threats and had all sorts of horrible things happen to them.

It was a very interesting panel and I hope that they do it again next year. What I would have liked to see was the panel be a bit more “State of the Union” and less explanation, though explanation and personal accounts are a super important part of stopping things like Gamergate and it’s hard to get a “State of the Union” for all women in the gaming industry.

Playthings

I loved this RPG. We were sentient toys that were trying to stop a child’s nightmare. It was an easy system and so much fun to roleplay.

Starship Troopers

This game and system, while fun, annoyed me in several ways.

The first one was that, after making a joke about coed showers, we were all told we had to be male character, no ifs, ands, or buts. I’ve never seen a character (even a pregen) where the gender isn’t optional, even if it’s already listed on the sheet. I felt that this flew in the face of what I felt to be a very gender progressive movie.

The other thing that I didn’t like was that the system was basically just DnD 3.5. I feel that this was the most cluttered system we played. The character sheet and the rules could have been hacked down a lot and would have made a much cleaner, easier system.

What I did like was the story (especially that we were on the ship the Youngstown, which was a crazy coincidence) and the group that we played with. I definitely had fun in this game sans a few issues.

Sunday

I had packed the night before so I could sleep in a little bit, yet everyone was still bugging me at 730 to get up. I promptly ignored them and slept until 830 and was ready to go by 9,which was when we left.

Cold Steel Wardens

This game is bae. We make a point to play it every year at Gencon, or at least I do.

Cold Steel Wardens is a gritty superhero game set in a dilapidated rust belt city.  Think Watchmen set in Youngstown.

The one shot we played this time was probably the most fun I had with this game since it was a lot more roleplay instead of combat. We had set out to find who was assassinating police officers. Eventually we figured it out and stopped the villain in less than a round.

This is another game everyone needs to check out.

After another awesome Gencon, we were finally headed home. I decided to teleport back to Ohio via sleep, so I did. However, Nick’s obsession with me waking up meant he did shake me awake once in Columbus.

Jerk.

Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a professional writer and editor living in Cleveland, Ohio with her partner, cat, and many house plants. She is the current editor-in-chief for Project Derailed. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet. She was also a writer for the latest edition of Trinity Continuum: Aberrant. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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