I attended the second day of Gen Con today with my 14-year-old son. We had a terrific time, of course, and on the way home I started thinking about how much I enjoy/respect/admire this annual gathering of gamers. Here are three reasons why:
1. Role-playing gamers, whether tabletop or electronic, LARPer or card battler, are really nice people. I go to public events all the time: sports, theater, movies, but I've never come across a friendlier or more positive-spirited group of people than the ones I find every year at GenCon. They call it "the best four days in gaming." I say it's the best four days in Indiana, period. I know. I live here.
2. Gen Con reaffirms the essential importance of a vital and healthy imagination. I thought I understood that fairly well, but having my son with me this year made me appreciate it in a new way. The geek factor initially made him nervous. None of his cool friends would be caught dead at a place like this. 14-year-old boys play Madden, right? What are you supposed to do with 20-sided dice?
But once we hit the exhibition hall and he saw all this amazing stuff and all these crazy people, he lit up. And why not? For once, he was secure in his certainty that he could fully engage, play, pretend, imagine with no consequences or judgments from his peers. Today (and today only, I suspect) he didn't need to play the role of disengaged tough guy. He was temporarily released from a culture that tells nearly every teenage boy in America that creative imaginative play is only for girls, geeks, and gays. How sad. But maybe one day can make a difference.
3. The gaming podcast community is the coolest and most generous bunch of cats on the planet. Special thanks to Jeff Lower from the Sons of Kryos podcast, Don Dehm from the Paper Game Podshow, and RPGPodcasts, a directory of audio and video shows about role-playing games and other games on the internet. I hope to join your lofty ranks with my first podcast release next week.
If you're in Indy, you've got two more days to get to Gen Con. Have fun.