1879: Thoughts Post Gencon 2019

Another Gencon has come and gone. So fast. We spend months preparing, and then the Running of the Nerds is followed by the closing of the exhibit hall and packing up to go back home. Forthwith, a few thoughts captured during and immediately after the convention, some directly relevant to 1879, others more generally to FASA, and some to the hobby as a whole.

Minis matter. In a roleplaying game, just a couple of minis can make a very large difference in a scene, even without a map. I brought a couple of the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear cars to the table for Wyrm in the Big Apple. When I referenced the players’ car, I pushed the Simplex Phaeton around on the table. When we reached the third act and the car chase, I put out the Phaeton and an 1880 taxicab, and used them for relative positioning and movement. Pushing over the Matchbox car gave a visual reference for the crash when the Medium reached over and telekinetically yanked the cab’s parking brake lever.

Simplex Phaeton, used to represent the Stantz Bearcat, and a period taxicab.

Details matter. The night guard describing the sandwich he made out of the buffet leavings, and then complaining that not only did someone steal from the museum, they swiped his sandwich, humanized what could have been just a spear carrier. Giving him a line about the nice uptown roast beef you can’t get downtown about knocked a native New Yorker off his chair, the player was laughing so hard at the reference. I spent weeks practicing my accent, getting the cadence right, throwing in the hand gestures and the occasional yanno? It all paid off with highly engaged players, which converted at a good percentage to sales at the exhibit hall booth.

GenCon is still suffering from its own size. They dumped a lot of the exhibitor rooms downtown into the lottery to try and accommodate more attendees, but all this really did was push the exhibitors out to the airport and other outlying areas, swapping the exhibitor and attendee housing locations. It didn’t open up any new rooms. There needs to be a better lottery system, and consideration for accessibility and mobility. People with mobility issues need to be given greater priority.

Speaking of which, if I could change one thing about GenCon, I would open the exhibitor hall for one hour each morning for people with mobility issues only. We had customers who simply could not get to our booth because they could not navigate their scooters, chairs, and other assist devices through the crowd.

The service industry in the downtown area remains tightly focused, and put in a tremendous effort to keep things running in the face of more convention attendees than any of the facilities can really handle comfortably. A note here: Always thank the people who empty the trash and clean the bathrooms. If they didn’t do a job that’s frankly gross, the whole of downtown would be uninhabitable by Thursday night. About every other time I hit the gents’ at the Marriott, there was someone in there cleaning. The Starbucks’ crew did a solid job as well, despite having two people bail on them Saturday morning, and the manager having to train new crew in the middle of the Thursday rush. The Uber drivers also deserve recognition. I can’t even imagine the kind of hours they must have been putting in.

Cosplay was on point this year as always. Thursday morning, I saw my first Crowley. Lots of effort there on the part of the fans, some really great work, I didn’t take any photos because I was in motion trying to get to my next demo.

I need to work on my time management. The primary reason I’m there is to demo my game line. That said, I need to make more room for attending some of the panel discussions, so I can keep up with what the rest of the industry is doing. I’m very sad I missed the Queer as a Three Sided Die panel this year. That’s normally a highlight for me.

A big shout-out to the Kelly’s Heroes people, who went above and beyond this year, running multiple 1879 events of their own, having laid on extra GMs to handle the load. Street teams, especially ones that come to the company on their own instead of being recruited, are critical vectors for marketing. We’ll have hats and t-shirts for you folks next year.

Speaking of next year, the scenario for 1879 will return to the Grosvenor World. No hints beyond that yet, but we did an Earth scenario this year, so next year it’s the Gruv’s turn. See you then!

Tally Ho!