I am here to report on Friday night at the convention, which is still ongoing. Before I start, I'd like to describe my frame of mind. Yesterday, I played in two campaigns, mine and my daughter's, from 11 in the morning until past midnight. Friday we were at the convention, and then afterwards out for dinner and drinks. So I am somewhat run down this morning.
As you read what I have to say about the convention, I recognize that words cannot always convey with accuracy the emotion of the writer. So I would like to say that you should be hearing, not a rant, as is my usual thing, but deep, abiding sadness. It would be understandable of the gentle reader to try to interpret what I have to say in terms of anger, and I want to be persuasive here. Friday was a heartbreaking thing.
I don't want to talk about editions, or games, from the perspective of what I would play or not play. I wasn't very surprised by the usual things ... a degree of standoffishness, the difficulty in getting a stranger to talk, how hard it would have been to have any discourse with people while they were playing. I've always found that to be true. To break down those walls, I would have had to be there for the whole weekend, to build up a familiar appearance and then to make friends. It isn't something that can be done in an evening.
Rather, I want to talk about how the convention has changed, since I find that very relevant, and is the source of my ache. I don't wish to say that this particular convention reflects what other people have experienced elsewhere - only I was stunned by what I saw. Before I can explain that, however, I must first give some background as to what things were like 22 years ago.
At that time, the city I still live in a source of about 650,000 people from which local players might attend. The convention was held in a large downtown hotel tower, and was attended by about 2,500 players at any time. You paid at the door and from that point forward you could expect to be harrassed by vendors, and to gather quickly the headache that comes from being in a crowded room. I made reference in my post last thursday about people on microphones ... I remember that there was a constant annoyance of announcements and people searching for people. Pretty much on the level of a present day Walmart. And there were booths everywhere.