Gen Con 2011, a retrospective… Part 4!

I fear this whole Gen Con retrospective might be getting a little old, after all Gen Con ended 2 weeks ago. With all the complications I’ve had to write these posts you’d figure I’d get the hint the universe was trying to tell me something. Heck, last night as I was getting ready to write this last post (yeah its finally over!) a tropical storm hit Puerto Rico. You might say the fates were against me.

Well the fates be dammed! I intend to finish this thing even if it’s the last thing I do. (If Michael sees the readership number plummeting and you see my name stricken from the authors list you’ll know what did me in!) I’ve covered RPGs, other games, “stuff” (t-shirts, artists, authors, et al) but this last post is about the most important reason I went to  Gen Con. What was it? Read on…

Friends! I wanted to go to Gen Con to spend time with my friends. Role playing games have been a great way to make friends. My longest lasting and dearest friendship have been forged around a table, rolling dice and telling adventures, and making it to the biggest gaming convention meant seeing friends old and new, as well as forging new friendships.

You’d be surprised to know how many Boricuas where at Gen Con this year. Besides your truly there were people playing card games, miniature games, some that I knew and didn’t get to see (its strange to believe that you can know people and not see them during the WHOLE convention, it is that crazy) some that I knew but had no idea they were there until we ran into them at a nearby food court. Then there were the people I knew were going to be there and I had plans to see. Like they say in pageant shows, in no particular order, they were…

Daniel Perez (@Highmon): Talk about making friends through gaming! I met Daniel back when I worked at Metro Comics (the local FLGS and comic shop), he worked at another store (the first proper FLGS locally and owned by a good friend) and we forged our friendship back then, Talking about games, and sharing some personal experiences I don’t think should be discussed here. (I’ll take bribes on PayPal!) When he moved to the states we lost touch, I knew about him though common friends, but we did not speak for years. Then during Gen Con 2007 we ran into each other the very last day! Thankfully we’ve kept in contact since. He’s a good friend and has been instrumental in a lot of things I have done in recent years relating to gaming. He was pivotal to the creation of Puerto Rico Role Players, motivated me to get involved with the group and continues supporting us even if he’s not here in the island. I’ve told the story before, so suffice it to say he’s half the reason I began blogging (the other being Mr. Stargazer himself).

When I arrived at Indianapolis Wednesday night he was one of the first people I called. And despite it being late, and him being tired, he walked over to my hotel and went to have late (really late) dinner with me at The Ram. We met a couple of more times, including a late night toast before I came back. It’s always good to see Daniel, and I only hope we get to do this again real soon.

Rouka, Jesús, Chino and Cass: Then there were some newer friends I’ve made through Puerto Rico Role Players. I may have known them for a shorter time than Daniel (I think they are too young to have been hanging out when we were!) but they are great friends who adopted me into their group, kept me company and kept this old foggy gamer safe from the lures of overspending! Jesús and Rouka were kind enough to join Daniel and me for dinner at The Ram when I came in and the next day with Chino and Cass all five of us returned for lunch in the same venue.

I may sound like an old fart but it warm my heart to see this younger generation of gamers picking up the mantle. I love the gusto with which they embrace gaming and LAPRing and all aspects of our hobby. They are an integral part of the success of Puerto Rico Role Players and going to Gen Con with them was among the highlights of my trip. We ate together, wandered the exhibit hall, I did not get to LAPR with them but their love for it is contagious and they have made me consider actually doing it, when some years ago I would not have thought of it. I would love to go to Gen Con with all of them again and this time around I’ll do the Nero thing.

PJ (@luniticus): Another good friend who’s far away. PJ is one of those people I knew through a lot of other people (a one degree of separation kind of thing) but when I finally meet him in person immediately liked the guy! I’ve had the pleasure sitting at the table as a fellow player and have him play when I’ve GMed. His daughter is also one of the bravest, smartest young ladies I have met!

While he was also among those I called as soon as I got to Indy, we could not meet for dinner that first evening but we made up for it later on the weekend. He gave me the grand tour of the minis gaming room, which I had managed to miss enthralled by all things RPG. I also got to meet his friends from Virginia who had made the trek with him to the con; and one of them had been discharged from the hospital and come straight to Gen Con, that is dedication my friend! Big shout out to the World’s Best Comics crew (click on that link to check out their Facebook page).

Yamir and Gaby: I read an article on the newspaper the other day that said that social media was just a waste of time (no wonder a newspaper is saying this) and that most people only do stupid mindless things while logged in to places like Facebook. Well I beg to differ! Though social media, including Twitter and now Google+ I’ve met so many wonderful people, forged new REAL friendships, case and point Yamir. If I remember my details correctly (and the involved parties are welcome to correct me) Daniel, who he met on the Green Ronin forums, told Yamir about Puerto Rico Role Players where we got in contact. He eventually visited one time during one of our game nights and shortly after we invited him to join us.

Yamir is a terrific player, always ready to give constructive criticism, and an even better friend. Sadly he moved away and is no longer gaming with us, and I really miss him. He has a wonderful girlfriend, well that’s not exactly right; she WAS his girlfriend when we met. Gaby and Yamir were set to get married the weekend of Gen Con. They called me to invite me to the wedding and I said I had plans to go to Gen Con. They wanted to come too but had forgotten about the date. Gaby agreed to CHANGE the wedding date, moving it to the weekend before, just so they could take the road trip and come to Gen Con as part of their Honeymoon. Yes Gaby is one of the best wives EVER!

They are an amazing couple. We spent time catching up which we really needed to do. As an aside, we did go to Harry and Izzy’s where we had an AMAZING steak dinner and I enjoyed their St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail. Well let’s just say it’s one of the most delicious and hot foods I have ever tasted it. I cried, but they were tears of joy! But, back to the point of this post…

Gen Con was not just about existing friends, I wanted to meet many of the new acquaintances I’ve made online through the blog and on Twitter. Let’s say I was less successful on this area. They were just too many I wanted to see. But I did manage to run into a few of you…

David A. Miller (@LodestoneDavid): I met David in Twitter and he is a friend of Daniel (do you see the pattern here). One of my goals at Gen Con was to play some Savage Worlds and David generously offered to run a game. I mentioned the game on my very first post from Gen Con. Just to reiterate, the adventure was awesome, reinforced my desire to run a Savage Worlds campaign and helped me get a better grasp for the rules in action. Besides Scott who I met at the table, and who happened to be a great guy, Yamir, PJ and I were the other players; When Scott had to leave due to the game running late, Gaby joined in and ran his character for the final two parts of the adventure. Again thank you for your time and the game David, meeting you was another big highlight of the con. We originally had another person who was going to join us, however he ran a little late, when he finally arrived I made the acquaintance of…

Chris Helton (@dorkland): Chris is one of those people I knew about before I knew him. I had read his Dorkland! blog and enjoyed his take on gaming and other subject matter that interests him. We met at David’s Savage Worlds game and although he did not stay till the end we did talk and eventually ran into each other (I think) two days later. He joined us for dinner and we got to spend some time talking and philosophizing. We wondered how we had connected on Twitter where we had interacted before the con and although we had theories, we could not pinpoint it.

I had an awesome time with Chris and wished we could have spent more time talking. He may not be a Babylon5 fan (as per our conversation over Twitter of my obsessive love of the series), but no one is perfect (I kid you Chris) but I do wish we’ll get to do something together in the near future and keep in touch. Thanks for all the insight and the good times!

There were other more casual and shorter meetings during the con. I ran into Phil Vecchione (@DNAphil) on a corridor while on the way to dinner with Chris, Yamir, Gaby, Jesús, Rouka and PJ and instantly recognized him. Phil in an awesome dude with a contagious positive attitude, he was with Patrick Benson (@sinisterforces) who I met briefly there but who I also look forward to keeping in contact with. Both write for Gnome Stew so be sure to check them out there as well.

I also recognized Newbie DM (@newbiedm) on the floor and got to see him again during the aforementioned late night toast with Daniel Perez. On my first retrospective post I mentioned Gareth Michael Skarka, but I neglected to mention that he had received the recognition of being named an honorary Boricua by Daniel and me. I know he will have great success with his upcoming Far West project. Make sure you visit and support the kickstarter project, it closes very soon. I get a feeling this will be BIG and this is a chance to be there from the very beginning.

It’s easy to make friend at Gen Con, even before getting there! I met the creators of the new RPG Genesys on the flight and at the airport when I arrived in Indianapolis. The system and the premise looks promising and intriguing, and I hope to get more information on it and hopefully interview the creators (once real life stops beating me senseless) so I can share what I learn with all our readers.

Looking back there were LOTS of people I missed seeing at Gen Con. The people from #rpgchat in Twitter, Mad Brew of Mad Brew Labs, and MANY others I have had the honor of meeting in Stargazer’s World. If I meet you during Gen Con and forgot to mention it I’m sorry, this post has rambled on for far too long. Just know that the best thing about Gen Con was seeing old friend and making new ones.

If you’ve been to Gen Con you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t gone to Gen Con yet, don’t put it off. It is even better than I, or any other blogger or reporter, makes it sound. It is truly the best four days in gaming. Gen Con 2012 will be held august 12th to the 16th, mark you calendars and start planning, I hope to see you there!