Note to self: do not return home late on a Sunday from Gen Con and head straight back to work Monday morning. With the late night return Sunday, working a full day Monday, parents night at the high school Monday night, and my daughters starting their first day of their senior year of high school today, I am still trying to get unpacked and caught up at home as can be seen by the late posting of this blog post. Next year we plan to stay through to Monday morning then head for home.
All that being said, 2016 was my best Gen Con so far! This Gen Con was a very social convention for me, with less gaming sessions and more relationship building. I spent a lot of time talking with old friends, making new friends, being recognized and sought out by industry professionals, finally meeting face-to-face people I have been freelancing with but had never met, agreeing to some amazing new freelancing projects, and working the Modiphius booth, meeting lots of people there. Even with all this relationship building I still missed seeing a lot of people I had hoped to see. John Kovalic stated it best on Twitter “Gen Con: the best four day
s of not seeing even an eighth of the friends you’d love to have seen…”
Here is a photo essay of my experiences at Gen Con 2016. While you peruse these photos, I am going to go crash in my bed and catch up on much needed sleep. Enjoy!
The van is all packed and the Knight family is ready to head to Indy for Gen Con 2016. For the first time, my wife will be attending for the majority of the week and this will be the second year the girls work the booth with me.
With my wife attending this year, we needed to seriously consider handicap accessibility at Gen Con, our hotel, and the Indianapolis Convention Center. You can read about our accessibility experiences in the previous blog post, View From Behind The Chair.
First up on Tuesday we finding the booth, delivering bins of snacks and sundries to the booth, and starting setup of the flooring, tables and shelving. While Emily, Rachel and I worked on the booth, Angie rested in our room at the SpringHill Suites. The hotel was very accessible so Angie was able to rest safely and comfortably while we worked. That would be our daily routine. The family would spend time together at Gen Con in the morning. Afternoons, Angie would rest in the hotel while Emily, Rachel and I worked the booth. Evenings we would get back together again for dinner and an evening of fun.
On Wednesday, we were joined by Chris Birch (owner of Modiphius), Adam Thompson, Jonathan Thompson, and Joshua Klug to finish booth setup and stock organization. Chris has been a wonderful friend and a joy to work with both as a freelancer and as his manager for the Modiphius Gen Con booth. He gave me a lot of leeway in how I manage the booth and volunteers. Speaking of volunteers, this was Joshua’s first Gen Con experience, and he really enjoyed working the booth all week. I hope to see him at Gen Con again in the future. I met Adam and Jonathan years ago while working with Chronicle City, and our friendship has grown over the years. I was even blessed to see Adam this year another time outside of Gen Con, which was a lot of fun.
Rachel, Brie, and I working the Modiphius Booth
Emily and Joshua working the Modiphius Booth
So proud to once again be a part of a project that won an ENnie. Shadows of Atlantis won an ENnie for Best Cover Art.
You can see Lynne’s excitement and pride as she accepts the award with Chris standing with her. She wrote Shadows of Atlantis, and Dim Martin did the incredible and award-winning artwork.
Gen Con 2016 had so many new and fun experiences for us. Angie came from opening day on Tuesday through Friday (she then went home to attend a Professional Writing Conference). Being their second full week of Gen Con, Emily and Rachel were much more relaxed and willing to do more on their own. We really did experience Gen Con to the fullest this year, even with the accessibility challenges.
As I stated earlier, Gen Con 2016 was focused heavily on relationship building. I met so many amazing people that I cannot list them all here, but I want to highlight some of them that have extra special significance to me this year.
This past year I began working for Onyx Path, with Rose Bailey being my contact and supervisor. We have worked on two massive indexing projects together yet had never met or spoken to each other. As a freelancer, we mostly work online in front of our computers and many of our professional relationships are virtual only. I made it a point at Gen Con 2016 to meet face-to-face as many of my freelance co-workers as I could. Rose was the first one I found before Gen Con officially opened, and we had a wonderful conversation. Behind my right shoulder, you can also see Bill Bodden who I have worked with on some Modiphius projects. We met last year but it was good to catch up with him again this year and learn about projects he is working on with other publishers.
Last year at Gen Con I spoke with Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games which led to him acquiring my services to work on 504. Since Gen Con 2015, I have worked on seven games for Stephen and built a great friendship with him as his team. Stephen is passionate about games, his company, and his team, so it is wonderful to work with him. Behind us in the red shirt is Bill Bricker, who does layout on a lot of games for Stronghold. He and I have really enjoyed working together, and it was great to finally meet him face-to-face.
Over these past few months, I have gotten to know Chevee Dodd through his Daily Shed videos and conversations online. As Gen Con 2016 approached, we planned to meet and made it happen. He and I had a great late night dinner and conversation on Thursday. Throughout the convention, we passed by the Portal Games booth to say hello. Friday, Angie wanted to meet Chevee and Ignacy Trzewiczek. She enjoys listening to The Daily Shed by Chevee and Board Games Insider by Ignacy Trezwiczek and Stephen Buonocore, so she wanted to meet these people she normally just hears.
I bumped into Rodney Smith of Watch It Played earlier in the convention while setting up the Modiphius booth. My wife really wanted to meet him. She loves his how to play videos, and she and I love Prince Edward Island, where Rodney is from. I tried to schedule a time to meet with Rodney through Twitter, but our schedules just did not match up. My family was on its way out for the day on Thursday, with Angie leaving Friday morning, when we found Rodney by the door we were going to walk out of the Exhibit Hall. Tens of thousands of people attending Gen Con, and we randomly bump into one of the nicest guys in all of the game industry. We felt it was a wonderful gift to Angie on her final evening at Gen Con. Angie really enjoyed talking with Rodney about gaming and her love of Prince Edward Island. We hope to return again to PEI and perhaps visit Rodney and Pep McDonald while we are there.
A fun random meeting was to finally get to chat with Kevin Cook, the owner of the world’s largest dice collection. We have chatted online quite a bit but never met face-to-face. I look forward to speaking with him again at future conventions.
A meeting I was looking forward to for months before Gen Con 2016 was with Daniel Fisher of InnRoads Ministries. We have talked a lot online, I listen to the Game Store Prophets Podcast he is on, and I have been working with InnRoads Ministries as a writer and member of The Tavern Facebook group. Daniel and I have been planning this meeting to get to know each other better. My family met him for lunch at Noodles & Company (one of our favorite places to eat during Gen Con). We then bumped into him a couple times during the con, he stopped by the Modiphius booth, and we sat together at the Christian Worship Service on Sunday. We kindled a friendship that will be much stronger now that we have met face-to-face.
Lynne and Richard Hardy have become very special friends to my family and I. We met them years ago when I helped with the Chronicle City booth, and we have built a friendship with them since. We stay in touch online and spend time together during each Gen Con. My daughters really look up to Lynne and hope to someday visit her and Richard in England. For me, Lynne has not only been a friend, but my mentor as a freelance proofreader and editor. She took me from a raw, passionate newbie in the game industry to someone she recommends to other publishers. Because of her mentoring and recommendations to other publishers, I am now working with Onyx Path and Chaosium and had the confidence to apply and be accepted by Fantasy Flight as a freelancer.
I was introduced to John Kahane by Lynne Hardy during Gen Con 2015. Since that time we have chatted quite a bit on Twitter. While at Gen Con, he asked if I could pick up some items for him from the Black Book Editions. I would get something, then John would ask for something else, like a picture, or a GM screen, or another button. As friends, I just chuckled and would wander by the booth again where the Black Book team would smile when they saw me coming again for something for John.
Here is where the story gets interesting. Because of these multiple visits to the Polaris RPG booth, I got to build a rapport with Laura Hoffman of Black Book Edition. By the final day of Gen Con, we had gotten to know each other and she asked if I might be interested in doing some proofreading or editing for them. So, by being a friend to John and picking up items he wanted at Gen Con may have led to me getting some freelance work. You never know where or how a freelance relationship will begin at Gen Con.
Gen Con was not all work and relationship building. There were also some moments of levity.
Don’t eat me!
Don’t phase me!
Biff! Bam! Pow!
My daughter Emily has been working on her fantasy art. As part of that, she made a whimsical paper doll Beholder that she took around Gen Con taking pictures. The Pokemon Center and that huge Pikachu was our view from the front of our booth all of Gen Con. Wish someone would have caught that huge yellow pokemon and taken him away.
Saturday evening, I continued the tradition of hosting friends over to our hotel to relax, eat and play games. Great to get together with old and new friends, many of which I only see at Gen Con each year.
We always play games we just picked up at Gen Con. We played Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, Star Trek Panic, and Codenames Pictures. So much fun!
Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower delivered a powerful message at the Christian Worship Service. My family attends the service each year and really enjoy worshiping with our fellow geeks and gamers.
Sam Healey of The Dice Tower leads singing at the Christian Worship Service.
The obligatory photos of my Gen Con 2016 haul. Quite a few of these I acquired in a trade I made on the InnRoads Tavern with the exchange occurring at Gen Con, others are ding and dent purchases from Coolstuffinc, some are normal purchases, and then quite a few are trades with other Exhibitors (perk of working a booth in the Gen Con Exhibit Hall).
Gen Con 2016 Board Game Haul
- Gen Con 2016 RPGS. The Call of Cthulhu and Runequest are reference materials for upcoming freelance projects.
Gen Con 2016 Bits and Pieces
After the Exhibit Hall closed on Sunday, we dismantled the booth, boxed up the unsold stock, had final conversations with our neighbors, said our final goodbyes and gave hugs all around for a great show. Even as tired as we were, we are already planning for Gen Con 2017! See you there!!