This weekend, I attended GenCon for the first time.
For those who don’t know, GenCon is a gaming convention, where games are previewed, taught, playtested, and played. The majority of the content is tabletop games, although there are also digital games present. Artists and authors participate as well. A sizable portion of the vendor’s hall is filled with books and art, and a Writer’s Symposium is held in conjunction with the main convention.
I know it might seem like an obvious statement to make, but I’ll say it nonetheless: there were so many people! I encounter few enough people in the course of my daily life that are interested in board games the same way I am that to see so many all in one place felt remarkable. All of these people loved games. The loved to play them and be involved with them enough that they paid for the convention, traveled to Indianapolis, and endured huge lines and masses of people.
Some of the people there didn’t just like to play board games, they liked to create them. I had the privilege to attend a panel by Magic: The Gathering designers on the design of Dominaria, and I got to be among the first to play two games: Race to Hollow Earth and Dungeon Date, both of which I got to play with their actual designers! That was really cool to me. It’s an experience I’ve never had before.
I suppose I don’t talk much about it here, but dabbling in game design is one of my hobbies. Seeing other people who do far more than dabble was inspirational to me. It may have been my favorite part of GenCon… Or, perhaps, my second-favorite part, because there was something else about it that makes me want to return.
To attend the conference, you have to purchase a badge. Most people wear these badges around their necks, so that they’re easily displayed for those who need to check them. From the very first day, we saw people who had ribbons hanging from their badges. Some of them were just marks that they’d attended a certain booth or played a certain game, but among these ribbons were ones that proclaimed their wearer to be a “Gaymer” or an “Ally.”
I’ve never felt as comfortable about this aspect of myself as I did at GenCon. I don’t really hide my sexuality, in everyday life, but it’s not like I display openly, either. It’s simply not worth the risk that inherently accompanies being gay in our current social climate. I don’t dare show my husband affection in public. I didn’t do that at GenCon, either, but it was nevertheless bolstering to see as many people wearing Gaymer and Ally ribbons as I did.
I was hesitant about whether I wanted to go, and now I’m not even sure why. If my friends return again next year, I’ll be going with them for sure.