I went to GenCon with a few expectations - I hoped to acquire copies of both the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, and the Serenity RPG. If anything else were interesting, I'd acquire that, too - but those were the biggies. I also wanted to run a great game myself (with the parnership of Paul and Mike, of course) and maybe get to play in a few, preferably of the above. I was also very much looking forward to the signing and subsequent dinner with other members of the Brotherhood Without Banners (a George R.R. Martin fanclub).
GenCon makes me mad. Unless you're running a huge timeblock of events (which was, with two eight-hour events) you pay a premium to get in to the con - at least $50.00. Then, you have to give them more money for each individual event that you sign up for. Prior to arrival at the con, the catalogue of events is a poorly organized Excel spreadsheet, with no easy way to sign up for events online. Clearly the event registration should be a database, not a spreadsheet, that updates in real-time and allows attendees to search for open slots, by time, by subject, whatever. Then, when you do get there, sort through the paper catalogue, pick an event, fill out a form to attend it, wait in line to give them your money - you may or may not be allowed to register because maybe the event is booked up. If it is, you go back to the catalog, fill out another form, wait in line again... Why there's not a way to check availability before you wait in line, I do not know. It was inufuriating. The fact that we also had to pay extra money for any game at the con was also infuriating! Any little thing you wanted to do cost money. Attend a screening? Give us money. Play a game? Give us money. Join a tournament? Give us money. Take the "Segway Challenge"? Give us money. Attend a panel? Give us money. Like Origins, GenCon is for-profit, and as a result, they soak you for every dollar they possibly can. The con badge gives you the right to stand in line to give them more money, and also to go shopping in the dealer's room. That's it. Further, the Game of Thrones RPG is D20 only, unless you want the deluxe edition - (which is $100.00) - and no one at the convention was selling the Serenity RPG. Madness! I did get a copy of "Thirty", signed by wickedthought, with whom I had a spirited debate about anime.
However, when I finally did get to play a game (a board game with some friends, and ... you guessed it, I had to pay them to use the board!) it was fun. I also played in a great game of "Exalted" with nephandi, in which much fun was had by all. I swear, the chicken was totally necessary.
The game I helped run went of splendidly - especially when Kenny and his friends put on an elaborate in-character "private party". I missed a chunk of the second night when I ran off to the signing in Huntington Beach, but it was great to catch up with the kids of the BWB. grrm had to cancel the dinner because he was exhausted from his 15 city tour - but we all (eventually) found our way to a great Italian place called Lino's for an excellent dinner, and much badinage and bloviation.
I finally did catch up with grrm at the convention after his signing was done. He and I and a few others got drinks (and some dinner) at the hotel bar ...we found a quiet table in an outdoor patio. That's one of the great things about California - it's the middle of November, and still it's comfortable to dine outdoors. I also presented my little metal Eddard Stark to grrm, explaining that, sadly, Hodor must have painted the direwolf on his shield. He seemed to like it, though didn't say much about it... so maybe random gifts like that are more of a burden than anything.
On the way home nephandi and I tried again to get "Serenity" from Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica, but it's perhaps for the best that it was closed, because I have to pay some utilities bills, and money is tight until the first of the month.
After a game-filled weekend of nerdy goodness, I got home exhausted and was fast asleep by ten last night. Many thanks to all the folks that pitched in with the LARP - and a big hello to all my BWB people!