GenCon Remembered

EDITORS NOTE 1: I realize I should have posted this, oh I don’t know, 2 weeks ago? And I would have if I didn’t get so darn distracted. I happened upon it on my hard drive—just sitting there, sad and lonely. So without further ado, here is some very old news.

EDITORS NOTE 2: Warning…this is looooooooooooong. Wordy McWorderson strikes again. It’s so long I have to break it up into the 2 parts. Now it looks like I posted 2 new blog entries in ONE day! When I’m on, I’m on!

GenCon Thursday and Friday:

GenCon. Where for art thou GenCon? Is it really over already? I feel like I went to sleep in my mushy Marriott bed and magically woke up in my cat hair infested real bed. Even weirder because I don’t have a cat. But yes, all good things must come to an end and GenCon is no exception.

I know what you’re probably thinking. Wasn’t GenCon like 3 years ago? Okay so I’m a little slow on the uptake, or in this case, the download. But I’ve been—umm, busy? I, like many of my co-workers, have been nursing that GenCon hangover. Often it has nothing to do with drinking (often it does depending on who you’re talking to) and more to do with being up way past your bedtime, getting up much earlier than you think is fair when sleeping in a hotel room, and eating more meals a day than a Lean Cuisine taste tester (what a fun job, that would be, no?)

I had a wonderful time—the best GenCon I ever attended which has much to do with being the only GenCon I ever attended as an “author.” Traveling as “author” means many things.
1. You only have to be in the booth when you’re scheduled to be there for things like interviews or book signings.
2. You get to do things like interviews and book signings.
3. You get your own hotel room.

I felt guilty about the hotel room, especially when I saw the bloodshot eyes of my coworkers who didn’t sleep the night before because they got stuck with a “Snoring Guy” or a “Sleep Walker” or a “Hot Water in the Shower Hoarder” or the “Digestively Challenged.” Freshman year of college Take 2.

By far the highlight of the show was seeing the real, honest-to-goodness, straight off the line copies of Confessions perched on the metal retail shelf. It’s gorgeous and I’m not just saying that in an “only a mother could love it” sort of way. The cover is extra special with its fancy spot-gloss dice and Astrid is looking particularly hot in her Marc Jacobs ensemble.

I arrived in Indianapolis (my first time there) Thursday evening. Accompanied by friend, co-worker and fellow author Nina Hess (A Practical Guide to Monsters), we met up with some co-workers for dinner at a German bar called The Rathskeller. Despite the scary amount of menu items that contained the word “schnitzel” I found myself enjoying a delicious slab of fish and steamed veggies. This place, like most of the bars and restaurants in Indianapolis was deceptively larger than it appears on the outside. It was cavernous, even hosting a reception hall somewhere between the bathrooms and bar area. It was very D&D looking on the inside and made me imagine this was the place Astrid and friends came too after they accomplished another tedious task for the very demanding Lady Elaydren. I polished off two 20 ounce equivalents of German Bud Light and officially crossed my “too much to drink” threshold.

After the German bar we ended up at what became the unofficial Wizards hang out for the remainder of the trip—a bar called the Slippery Noodle. Again this place was cavernous. So humongous they had two stages with live music going at the same time and neither room disturbed the other. There were a lot of Irish car bombs being handed out but I clung to my last shred of responsibility and stuck to my drink of choice, Bud Light. Some six hours later, I made my way back to the Marriot. Yes. Six hours. As in four in the morning! I don’t know what happens to turn perfectly sane, responsible, hard working people into frat boys. Is it seeing co-workers socially you normally only get to see in meetings? Is it for some the fact they don’t have to leave early to relieve the $20/hour babysitter? Is it the idea of having an expense report and room service? My plans to hit the gym, eat a nice breakfast, maybe take a walk downtown were quickly dashed when I realized, best case scenario had me only getting 4 1/2 hours of sleep. That’s not nearly enough time to sober up and start the hangover proceedings.

Needless to say I was hurting Friday morning but the line between hangover and nervous anticipation was a blurry one. Today was the day for the Female Gamers and D&D panel. The panel that consisted of myself and five other women from Wizards was something we were all looking forward to. I have to admit though; I was a tad bit nervous. Ok, I was terrified. First of all, the description was listed as “Join Shelly Mazzanoble and other…”which I thought wasn’t much of a selling point. I voted to leave my name off completely or if they insisted say something like “Join Shelly Mazzanoble and all the free cheesecake you can eat” or “Join Shelly Mazzanoble for a tour of the Indianapolis Nordstrom” I was shot down on both accounts.

So why the nerves? It’s not the being in front of people part. I was a theater major and don’t mind public speaking. Dare I say I actually enjoy it? And I was going to have back up with me, all of whom promised to defend my honor if things got dicey (get it? Dicey? A little D&D humor there.) I guess it was not knowing who would come to this. Perhaps a roving bad of angry boys who were pissed off I was trying to encourage gross, dumb girls to play their game? Maybe a few women who thought my using shopping, reality television, and M&M’s to warm up other women to the idea of playing D&D was nothing more than pandering to stereotypes they were fighting like Tetris blocks everyday to shoot down? Maybe no one would show up?

I didn’t eat breakfast Friday morning, which cued a lot of people something was very wrong with me. I have been blessed with an appetite that never quits—not for hangovers, depressions, stress, excitement, first dates, stomach flu, mouth surgery, nada. I also happen to love hotel breakfasts. Why? They’re usually buffets and who doesn’t love not choosing between the cheese Danish or the sesame bagel? On this Friday morning, I could barely make the non-fat latte Nina treated me to go down. And to top if off, another co-worker thought now—a hour before show time—was a great time to mention the Astrid Parlor message boards on the Wizards website were so heavily moderated, most of the content had to be taken off.

ME: “Oh no! Why all the fuss?”
HER: “I’m not supposed to tell you. Sorry!”

Sorry? I’m about to stand in front of heavily moderated, potentially very angry people with nothing more than a sleeveless shirt and kitten heels for protection and all you can say is “sorry?” Why bring it up? Fortunately this is also the same person who teaches self-defense and can pretty much give you a black eye just by looking at you. She too would be at this panel and promised to “have my back.” That did make me feel a little better. But still…why bring it up?

Turns out it was all for nothing as this is now known as the “panel that never happened.” A very long apology is needed for what apparently is a very short explanation—an administrative error. I did a little detective work to find out exactly what the problem was here. My detective work does not involve me wearing a little, tweed hat and taking cryptic notes in a pocket-sized notebook. It’s me running up to everyone in a Wizards polo shirt going “What the BLEEP happened to our seminar???”

Contrary to public opinion, Wizards did not change the location at the last minute. They never changed the location in fact. It was always meant to be in the Marriot along with the other Wizards sponsored seminars. I guess whatever ends up in the program book goes online and whatever goes online is thought to be true as per the GenCon volunteers so they all insisted it was at the Embassy Suites. I still have no idea how or why it was listed wrong. I came up with numerous conspiracy theories mostly because I always wanted to be part of one, but even I can see they’re full of holes.

After waiting 20 painful minutes, we left the vacuous walls of the Santa Fe room and headed down to the hotel restaurant for lunch. My appetite was raging! I needed comfort! I even opted for the fries that came with my wrap instead of the side salad. Oh yes, I needed French fries. That’s how bad I was feeling. It’s like second grade and no one wants to talk to me.

Half way through our lunch we get a call from someone in the booth. A few weary travelers stopped by to find out where the heck we were as they and around 30 other people were patiently waiting at the Embassy Suites for the panel! 30 people??? Waiting? Curses! They did come. They did want to talk about women and gaming. I didn’t care if the roving band of boys or the angry women were among them. I wanted to have this discussion! I had a seven-page intro! I guess it should have made me feel better knowing that people did show up, despite the panel’s description, but I actually felt worse. The thought of thirty people sitting in a room at the Embassy Suites waiting, checking their watches, thinking “I got up early for this?” and none of us showing up? What a waste of their time. I’d like to buy them all French fries.

So to anyone who was at the Embassy Suites, I’m sorry for the mix up. Please know it was an error out of our control. Everyone at Wizards feels terrible for the mistake. Ever since I returned from GenCon I get stopped in the halls by another co-worker saying, “I heard what happened to the seminar. That SUCKS!” it’s like having 300 Mommy’s in cubicles there. I hear we’re going to take this discussion online so stay tuned for details on a live chat.

The rest of Friday was kind of a blur. I know I ate a cookie from Starbucks (still feeling bad about the seminar) and spent most of the afternoon in the Wizards booth. I bought two new sets of dice: aqua for me, purple for my friend Elena. Then it was off to the VIG dinner.

Still not sure how I got invited to this event as it was for an elite group of gamers known as “Very Important Gamers” and several “industry guests.” Me? Industry guest? My first thought was it’s a roast. Revenge of the roving band of boys and angry women! The dinner was held is a lovely, historic venue that made you feel like you were dinning in a cul-de-sac in some remote Spanish suburb. I knew that there were several people going whom I wanted to meet but alas, no one wore nametags so it was impossible to know who was who.

We sat at a table with a father and son duo and two childhood friends who met up at GenCon for a reunion. They were wonderful company. One of them said he was at the Embassy Suites earlier. Oh no! No food was thrown. He was just genuinely disappointed it didn’t happen. On a happier note, he introduced me to someone I had been hoping to meet—Sephera, one of the lovely Gamer Wenches, who was also at the Embassy Suites earlier that day. Happy to have met her, but said again for the mix up, I hit the dessert buffet for the second or third time. Who’s counting?

The evening ended with foosball, live music and more Bud Light at our favorite hangout, the Slippery Noodle. This concludes days 1/2 and 1. Stay tuned for Saturday. It’s already written! Don’t worry.

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