This last weekend was the virtual edition of OrcaCon. Since I was spending the weekend doing things with my wife, I didn’t take part, but seeing the tweets and Discord messages from them just brought it all to mind.
If it wasn’t for this fucking virus, I would have been down in Bellevue, Washington last weekend interacting with my peeps, playing some games and just having a lot of fun.
I’m hoping that maybe things will pick up with a whole bunch of people getting vaccinated that maybe things will be relatively back to normal by the time SHUX happens in October, but we’ll have to see.
In the meantime, this weekend’s OrcaCon just makes me think back to other conventions, and I want to talk about them here.
Because cons are a wonderful place to meet people (I know you’ve seen this pic a bunch of times, but it’s still one of my favourites)
The convention that the picture above is from.
The Dragonflight convention is a convention in Bellevue, Washington in August, and it was my first major convention that wasn’t in the Vancouver metropolitan area.
I first went in 2016.
I wasn’t really involved in the boardgaming world. I had gone to a couple of local conventions but that was it. I wasn’t blogging yet.
A friend of mine knew (or knew of, anyway), Suzanne from the Dice Tower (she wasn’t involved with Dice Tower at the time, I don’t think, or maybe in some of the weekly video shows) and we played a number of games with her and Beth Sobel and others during the first day.
We played Captain Sonar, Broom Service: the Card Game (which I won!) and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong and it was a total blast.
It really made me feel a part of the boardgaming world, even though I wasn’t actually active on Twitter (in a boardgame sense) or in blogging or anything like that. I was just at the convention to play games.
So come to 2018.
I had been blogging, I had interacted with people on Twitter and I felt a bit more like somebody who was part of the world.
Dragonflight is not a con that many of the “boardgaming personalities” go to, but Christian Kang went and I went actually had a chance to talk to him about content creation, his Youtube channel, and other things.
Then, on Sunday, we got together and played Fantastic Factories with the designer (Joseph Chen) moderating the game and it was wonderful (that’s where the picture above the fold came from)
I really have enjoyed interacting with Christian (before he kind of retreated from social media) and it was the highlight of my convention to actually play with him and Joseph as well as Jesse (also in the picture above the fold).
It was also the highlight of the convention (though I did enjoy playing games with my friends who came with me as well).
This was my first SHUX, though the first one was actually in 2018 (or maybe 2017). I went with a bunch of my friends and had a lot of fun gaming for three days.
I actually interviewed Paula for my first (and only, sadly) podcast!
Paula was very cool and it was great interviewing her and her husband as well as playing a game with them on Sunday.
The con was fun but other than the above, I didn’t really meet any personalities so it wasn’t as noteworthy.
But Paula and Ross (hopefully I can meet Ross and play a game with him soon!) made it all worthwhile.
January 2020 was my first OrcaCon and it was a true blast. I had been to Dragonflight a few times and CascadeCon in Bellingham a couple of times, but OrcaCon was the first major convention that I had been to by myself without any of my friends.
It was a con to meet up with random people to play games with, as well as maybe hooking up with some of my boardgame friends on Twitter and other social media outlets.
I did meet a few of them, but I found myself reluctant to really put myself out there. I met Eric from Eric Plays Games and a few others, but it was basically a chat and I didn’t really feel that welcomed (I don’t blame Eric, as I didn’t really say much so I’m sure it was just like Random Internet Person #300 to him). I met Ada and Christian (again) and Plumpy Thimble, but again, I didn’t really put myself out there so I’m sure I was just Joe Nobody to them.
I did really enjoy meeting random convention attendees and playing games with them. I didn’t know anybody so every game I played was with somebody new. One couple I met (two women) I actually played a couple of games with and I did periodically see them at the tables so I went up and talked to them. It was actually nice to see them and be recognized without me having to remind them who I was.
But the highlight of my convention was on Saturday night.
I had gone down to the public room looking for a game and was disappointed that I couldn’t find anything. It was almost 10:00 pm, I had a bit of a headache, and I was feeling really depressed.
I left the public game room and thought that I would check the individual hotel floors for a game, but otherwise I was just going to go up to my room and go to bed. I felt a little disheartened.
Then I happened upon Sean from Thing 12 Games as well as Austin (Pacific NW Gamer on Twitter) setting up one of my favourites, Paladins of the West Kingdom. Austin had already started the teach, but I already knew how to play so I didn’t need him to restart it.
I asked if I could join, saying that I didn’t need teaching since they had already started, and they were very welcoming.
The game took until almost Midnight (or just after) and I was in heaven. Everybody was so nice, and I won! Not that winning made it worth playing, as just the act of playing would have made it worth it.
It was a great game, and a great way to end OrcaCon (I did play a game on Sunday that was fun too, but this was the highlight)
I did also go to CascadeCon in Bellingham in January 2020, but that was mainly with friends so while it was fun, it’s not noteworthy for this post.
But it brings us to…
Dice Tower West (Las Vegas) – February 2020
I’ve talked about this convention already, but it’s part of my experience that I want to talk about here.
This was the first convention that I had ever actually travelled to on a plane, rather than just a drive down to somewhere in Washington.
It was also the first convention my wife came to as well.
It was my first time in Vegas, so we did do some travelling around and sightseeing, but the convention itself was also very nice.
Here was the first time that I really felt a part of the online boardgaming community.
It was the first time I was recognized without actually seeking somebody out.
I was walking past the table where Meeple Overboard was playing a game, and he actually flagged me down and we talked for a bit.
I was amazed that somebody would actually recognize me. I almost didn’t know what to do with it.
I did also get a chance to talk to Eric Summerer and Tom Vasel from the Dice Tower (I won’t tag them here since I just did recently and I don’t want to inundate them with tags) which was also nice.
The highlight of this one, though, was Kiki Aimerito.
We’ve been talking on and off on Twitter for a while, but I certainly didn’t expect any recognition.
When I saw her and went up to her, the looked at me and said “Dave!” and then gave me a big hug.
For some reason, being recognized without having to introduce myself and getting that kind of reaction, just made the last couple of years of being a Boardgame online “personality” all worthwhile.
Between Meeple Overboard and Kiki, it was like I had arrived. I didn’t need to be leery of going up to somebody and saying “hey, I’m Dave, whovian223 on Twitter. You know me, we’ve interacted a bunch so why don’t you recognize me?”
It made the entire weekend so cool.
In addition to that, of course, were a couple of awesome bits.
First, being invited to play Dead Reckoning with John D. Clair, John Zinser from Alderac Entertainment and also Mark from AEG. I actually felt like I had arrived as a boardgame blogger due to that. They didn’t have to invite me before the con actually started, but John did. John Zinser was so cool (so were John and Mark, but I wanted to highlight John Zinser) because of our interactions before the con. He really made me feel included.
Second, I got to meet up with Sean from Thing 12 again! He was very gracious and played a game of Dice of Crowns with us (teaching it to us for the first time) as well as playing a game of Corinth with me once my wife had left.
It was very neat talking to Sean, and the fact that it was a continuation from our OrcaCon meetup also made me feel really good. It’s like “wow, this guy not only played with me in January, but also took the time to socialize with me in February.”
Then COVID hit and all of the other conventions for 2020 died (or went virtual), as well as the January ones for 2021. I’m sure the Spring and Summer conventions will probably go online as well, but maybe something in the Fall? Maybe SHUX 2021 will be the first face-to-face convention in over a year?
Let’s hope so.
I miss cons.
I miss playing face to face with my game group.
Here’s to a better 2021, but also here’s to a bunch of people who made my previous con experiences so welcome.
You are the best. I’m happy to have met you, and I can’t wait to meet you again soon!