Not only was Gen Con 2015 an amazing year for my freelancing, but I also was able to build much stronger relationships with people I have worked with but never met. As a freelancer, so often my communications and relationships are all electronic through Emails, Facebook messages and Twitter conversations. Gen Con, as a massive gathering of game industry people, is an incredible opportunity to strengthen relationships beyond the Internet. Mike Perna of InnRoads Ministries, who I also was blessed to finally meet face to face finally, called these meet-ups on his post Gen Con report podcast “Internet People Are Real.” This is so true. We have become so accustomed to Email conversations and social media contacts, we sometimes forget that these are real people with personal lives beyond our electronic transactions. Conventions, especially such a industry central one as Gen Con, give us the opportunities to look another in the eye, hear a voice, shake a hand, and hug in friendship. Being in the physical presence of someone changes the relationship, making it more real, more significant, more personal.
My Gen Con of converting Internet people to real people started on opening day of the Gen Con Exhibit Hall. I have really enjoyed listening to the Rolling Dice & Taking Names podcast and watching their various videos. When I saw a post that Marty Connell and his wife Vanessa would be handing out Moon Pies during Gen Con, I was hopeful I might snag a good snack and meet some wonderful people face-to-face. On Thursday morning, Marty tweeted they were at a location in the Exhibit Hall. I was busy working the Modiphius booth at that time and thus, sadly, unable to go find Marty and his wife. I jokingly sent a tweet asking if they would special deliver some Moon Pies to the booth I was working. To my surprise (although later I would learn I should not have been surprise), Marty answered and said they would stop by in thirty minutes. I was so pleased when they stopped by and I got to meet them in person. Even more special, my family and I kept running into Marty and his family throughout Gen Con and began to build a friendship. I look forward to building upon these early encounters as a foundation of an ongoing friendship.
I was also blessed to finally be able to meet two of the authors that I have proofread their works including Bill Bodden (Achtung! Cthulhu Guide to North Africa, Achtung! Cthulhu Guide to the Pacific Front, and Achtung! Cthulhu Fate Guide to the Secret War) and Jesse Hawkins (Achtung! Cthulhu Terrors of the Secret War). As a proofreader and editor, you read so many documents you can sometimes forget that there are unique authors behind each one of those documents. Being able to spend time with an author, speak with them at length, and get to know them really changes your interests and understanding of the books they write and games they design. What made this face-to-face meeting truly special was being able to celebrate with Jesse and his wife when Terrors of the Secret War won a silver ENnie for Best Monster/Adversary. Being able to experience the excitement and celebration with one of the authors was amazing.
The most surprising and truly random encounter of Gen Con 2015 was to meet up with Luis Enrique Torres. Why is this one so special? Because Luis is from Lima, Peru! Luis found me originally through my name being listed as a proofreader in Mindjammer and Interface Zero 2.0 when he was looking for someone to help with a writing project of his own (not published yet so I cannot give more details as of yet). We have communicated over email for some time but never actually spoken or seen each other. I was working the Modiphius booth when I walked over to speak to a gentleman. When he turned to look at me and saw the name on my badge, a huge smile spread across his face and he introduced himself as Luis. I was shocked and so happy to meet him. He was in the US attending a business-related conference the week before and had extended the trip to attend Gen Con. I had no idea he would be there and we hadn’t scheduled a time to meet. What a joy to meet him. With him being from Peru, I never thought we would meet face-to-face, but Gen Con made that happen. I regret that I did not get a picture with him.
Along with those personal meetings, I also got to meet face-to-face with some publishers I have been talking with online about possible freelance work. Being able to finally talk for an extended time in person really strengthened these possible partnerships, and I really feel will lead to projects that would not have if the conversations had only been virtual. Who have you met for the first time face-to-face at a gaming convention that before you only knew online? Did that lead to an ongoing business or personal relationship?