In which our intrepid hero begins to feel con fatigue.

Continued from Part II

Before I go on, there are a couple of things I should mention. Firstly, GenCon Oz was big. From an email I received a couple of days ago:

After two years of planning and four of the best days in gaming, we’re now at the end of the first ever Gen Con Australia. What an amazing event! Gen Con Australia, for its first year out, managed to attract over 10,000 attendees. This was a fantastic attendance for our first show, and sends a clear message that this event is here to stay.

Over 500 events, 40 seminars, 20 amazing special guests and panelists, 48 exhibitors, and 10,000m2 of space equated to the largest interactive games event in the country, and from what we have been told, the second largest Gen Con in the world besting both Paris and the United Kingdom.

How this works in a country of only 20-odd million people is a little beyond me, but it’s probably related to the success of huge shopping malls and enormous multi-cinema movieplexes in the far reaches of the Adelaide suburbs, where no sane man would put them.

Secondly, Steve Darlington was recently interviewed at the Altdorf Correspondent—and a certain buck-toothed critter put in an appearance. That goddamn beaver is a camera whore.

Anyway, the Saturday morning saw Mim and I arrive late for Hickman’s Killer Breakfast. Or maybe that should be Hickmans’—this time, Laura came to the party as well.

I’m not sure how to describe this event. Think of it as a gamer-themed gameshow with musical numbers, only you don’t want to kill the host—instead, he kills you. And every other member of the audience, one by one. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

We quickly grabbed food and headed to Freelance Game Design: The Next Step, apparently a sequel to a seminar I’d missed. Once again, Steve Darlington sat beside Robin Laws, and Kyla Ward also put in an appearance. The trio more or less stated what I already knew about freelancing: it’s far from an easy life, and if you’re outside the US or the UK, it’s doubly tough.

After lunch, Mim and I hauled ourselves upstairs to Robin Laws’ and Peter Adkison’s What’s Going On in Gaming? Laws and Adkison were fairly informal, entertaining but sadly not particularly memorable. Maybe I was just beginning to get tired, or maybe the following couple of hours eclipsed it.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to move for my next seminar: Hickman’s Xtreme Dungeon Mastery. Although he referenced his earlier Hickman’s Mythic Journeys, much of the seminar was like a revival meeting for old-school GMs. It may sound odd, but I’d travelled 1000km to see a guy from the other side of the world speak, and far beyond any other event at GenCon, I truly felt at home here.

Hickman’s vision for gaming is not just to entertain, but to teach, to tell stories and to give. It’s about friendship, but it’s also about much more: a sacred duty to make the world a better, nobler place. He didn’t say as much, but his work behind the GMs’ screen was clearly an extension of his missionary work in his youth.

As cynical as I can be, I can also acknowledge greatness in mankind, and I saw it that afternoon in Tracy and Laura Hickman.

After stopping to pick up a metric crapload of Campaign Coins, a long meal and a chat discussing the Hickmans’ thoughts on gaming (and after my jeans decided to commit suicide on an uncomfortable restaurant chair), Mim and I headed back to GenCon to play Death in the Skyfire Wastes, another of the RPGA’s Living Realms previews.

I said my piece on these adventures last post, but of the three, Skyfire Wastes was the most satisfactory. Although by that stage—we began at 7pm—my brain was toast, we had a very good GM, the puzzles led into each other and the combats had more interesting features for the players to use to their advantage.

Alone of the trio of adventures, Skyfire Wastes didn’t seem like a waste of time, although looking back, I enjoyed Thursday’s Warhammer FRP game much more.

Barely conscious, we returned to our hotel and its uncomfortable bed after 11pm, for the second night in a row. Hopefully, the last day, consisting solely of seminars, would be a little easier to cruise through.

To be continued…