Convention: Gen Con 2016: Gillian's Final Thoughts
Gen Con was awesome. Overall... And we will so be going back!
I am still amazed that people recognize Iain from Component Moment and his reviews on the Dice Tower. Even with taking a (much longer than expected) break, people still recognized him in the craziness that is Gen Con! Wow. The first day, no one recognized him except for the people at the Dice Tower booth when he stopped by. I'm kind of glad because the first day we were going around in a stupor trying to get everything together. The other three days, people were recognizing him all the time. They were asking him for autographs, which he still doesn't really understand. He knows it means to write his name on whatever he's handed. It's not like he's asked to do that in every day life but he loves it. Some people came up to him asking if they could send him their prototypes. Unlike some reviewers, Iain is not too particular yet. He loves so many games, he's willing to try anything. And so many people told him how much they love his videos and to keep it up that he was on cloud 9! Craziness...and awesome...
It's also funny because no one knows us (Jim and I). It's all about him as it should be. I do not want to be recognized in a crowd. I'm so not outgoing. I like talking to people one on one or in small groups of people I already know. Conventions are super draining for me because of this but I still love them. Iain, on the other hand, is very outgoing. He loves being the center of attention (not in an obnoxious little kid way). He still gets a little thrown off when people come up to him at Conventions and he even gets shy, which isn't normal. Like I said, though, it's not normal for strangers to know who he is. He hasn't had that since Origins last year.
Iain decided that the reason people recognized him the second day but didn't the first, was because he wore his hat. He's done most of his "work" (haha) wearing his hat and he looks so very different than he did when he first started on the Dice Tower two years ago that wearing the hat probably did make a difference. He's grown his hair out (no more buzz cut) and has aged 2 years, which in kid years, that's a lot. So...he decided to wear his hat the rest of the show so people would recognize him. Pretty funny.
He got to meet some very nice fans of the Dice Tower and Contributors, too. One person he was super excited to meet that he talked about for weeks beforehand was Rob (from Painting with Rob, Board Game Breakfast, etc.). Iain watches his live painting shows and his segments and just loves watching him. Iain wants to learn to paint miniatures so much! And I'm so happy with how encouraging Rob was. You can never truly tell from someone's videos but Rob really is an amazing person. Like I said, I'm not an outgoing person, so when Iain was at the Dice Tower booth, Jim and I stood off to the side and let Iain "do his thing". He can often get lost amongst all the adults because he really isn't an obnoxious, in your face kid. The crowd around the Dice Tower was huge but Rob made sure he fit in and was part of the group. I am so very thankful for that. Iain had a blast at the Dice Tower booth and I know Rob was a big part of that.
Unfortunately, when we went to the Dice Tower booth for the last time on Sunday to say goodbye, Rob wasn't there. Iain was very upset because he brought a miniature over to show him that he wants to paint but they have plans to "work" together in the future and Iain is super excited about that.
I knew going into it that Gen Con wasn't as family friendly as Origins but seeing is believing. Some companies (who will remain nameless) have lost major points in my book because they didn't treat Iain with respect. If a kid goes up to you and asks how to play a game...teach him how to play. Don't turn to his parents and start teaching them and ignore the child. He is the one who asked! Sometimes, it wasn't even a game we were interested in. I understand if you think your game is "too difficult for children" but get off your high horse. I can guarantee you that Iain can pick up the game quicker than most adults. In fact, when people bothered to teach him the game and pay attention to him, they were pleasantly surprised by how well he picked up the games. They just had to explain the rules once and he picked up the game right away and often caught the demo-ers doing something "wrong". He'd ask, "shouldn't this happen?" Not in a rude or obnoxious way but in a "did I get this right? do I understand it?" way. He was always correct, too, which was pretty cool. I'm sure other kids are the same way. They soak up information. He's been playing games "not made for children" for years and picks them up super fast. They are just games. If children want to learn how to play, then teach them. Besides, I'm way more likely to purchase a game if my kid likes it and you are nice to my kid than if just Jim and I like it and you ignore my child. Seriously amazed by how UN-family friendly a lot of the booths were.
That said...we had amazing experiences at some of the booths. Blue Orange Games is always amazing with him. I remember Origins 2014 (before he was even on the Dice Tower), they sat down with him and taught him all their games and were just amazing with him. This year was no different...
I know they make games for kids so it shouldn't surprise me. That said, there are other companies that make kid games who aren't quite as good with children. Brandan is amazing with Iain. Since they met in 2014, he has recognized Iain right away and takes time out to talk to him even in all the insanity that is Gen Con. Maybe that's why we own so very many Blue Orange Games...or maybe it's because their games are awesome for kids and adults.
Another company/designer that I was extremely pleased with was Tom Cleaver, the designer of Valley of the Kings by AEG. Tom was tentative, at first, when Iain sat down to play his game. It's not a kid's game, really, but he gave Iain a chance and that's really all I ask. He motioned to me to say "will he be ok playing this?" and when I said "definitely", he taught Iain to play. He was extremely pleased to see how well Iain picked up the game and he even won! Iain has played many, many deckbuilders and absolutely loves them. This was no exception. Unfortunately, we were unable to pick up a copy of this game because, let's be "real", there are only so many games we can afford. However, this experience has put it toward the top of my "to buy" list when it wasn't even on my radar before. One experience can totally change your opinion of a person/company...for the good...or for the bad.
Cosplayers need to wear clothes. Most of them are way too big for the outfits they wear. If you want to be an anime character or any character from a video game that doesn't wear much...lose weight. I'm not the thinnest person in the world by all means but I wouldn't force people to see me in any of those outfits either. I shouldn't know what your naked butt looks like...just sayin'...I just shouldn't (*shutter*). Nor should my 8 year old son! Some of the costumes were absolutely amazing! The mechanical costumes were fantastic and we saw an articulating hand that was 3D printed and gorgeous. I wish all of them were or, at least, I wish that there weren't so many horrifying costumes. I'm not even just talking about the obese people wearing inappropriate costumes. I don't want to see naked thin people, either. Wear the costumes behind closed doors or in "adult only" areas if your costume is going to be rated R. Thanks!
I don't know if everyone knows this, we didn't know going into Origins last year or Gen Con this year, but obtaining a press pass is super easy. Shhh...don't tell anyone. The point of a press pass, to us, is to be able to obtain cool information to tell the few who read this website (we didn't find out much we didn't already know) or, even moreso, to just feel more comfortable going around recording everything. We do not use it to get free games; we do not use it to push through lines or stop people from talking to companies because "we are so awesomely important". Come on! You couldn't throw a rock at Gen Con without hitting press and sometimes I so wanted to throw that rock! How dare they think they are amazingly important enough to go around asking for free games and discounts. The only time we mention that Iain does videos is to make sure it's ok to record/photograph certain games (especially kickstarters that haven't kickstarted yet). Some companies don't want their prototypes recorded and I find that companies really appreciate you asking because so many people don't. Never has this landed us with free games. It is extremely rare that we get free or discounted games and, when we do, it's because they know Iain, they've seen his work and hand us games. Often we are uncomfortable with this. We never ask, never beg and never assume. And we take it seriously when we are given a game and are extremely thankful! If they are free, they are first on our list to review. If they are discounted, they are next on our list. Game companies need to make money in order to continue to make games and I would much rather pay for them than get them for free.
Some companies are just so amazing, you leave going..."what did I do to deserve that?" For instance, Cool Mini or Not (and I've heard this from quite a few people). The people are amazing and if you get the chance to talk to them ever...do it! We were talking to one of the guys in the booth about some of their games. We were ready to buy Potion Explosion (because how perfect is it for a Component Moment?) and he unexpectedly took us over to meet the marketing guy, who was really nice. He talked to Iain for a while about his favorite games (which changed every time it was asked at the show), asked about Iain's videos and such. I thought maybe he was going to put us on a list or something? Check out Iain's videos and maybe someday something might happen? I don't know how that stuff works...we don't review for freebies, we just do it for fun. The marketing guy excused himself telling us to wait for him to come back so, in the meantime, Iain sat down to play Cthulhu in the House. He loves Rumble in the House and was super excited to check out the new version. He ended up playing with the John Kovalic!
While they were playing, the marketing guy returned with games for him. Seriously. I was in shock. Got teary-eyed and all that because that's how I get when people are nice to my kid. Iain was super excited to get his very own copy of Cthulhu in the House! And (I found out later) he had no idea he got the games for free. We do not take this for granted and we do not take it lightly. While it doesn't ever change our review of a game, it definitely changes our view of the company. Some companies are just amazing!
I got so sick and tired of press. The word "Press" is super small on the Gen Con badges for a reason. It so doesn't matter if you are press, it really doesn't. Go around and enjoy yourself. Stop begging for free stuff. You give press a bad name!!
Final Final Thoughts...
All that said, the good and the bad, we all had an amazing time. We are eager to go to both Origins and Gen Con next year (rather than one or the other) so hopefully we can make that happen. We are eager to get all of our footage edited. And we have been eagerly playing through the rather large stack of games we obtained and have yet to be disappointed. Keep an eye out for more posts and videos throughout this week.