Preparing for GenCon Online

Last week, I attended my first international convention, and had a great time. Although it all took place on-line and in another timezone, I managed to play in three different games, using entirely different rule systems, and all it cost me was some sleep! (Seriously, a 7 o’clock start time is really early if you have to be up and online half an hour before the game begins.)

Ettin Con usually encourages social interaction and face-to-face gaming around a table. However, like FanCon, it took place entirely on-line this year. It’s one of many smaller cons that are using the offer plenty of great games and events. And while I’m no international or on-line conventions expert, having attended a staggering number of two (2!) on-line cons, it’s taught me a few tricks and obstacles that should serve me well at the next con that’s on my list: Gen Con Online.

You can expect a longer Ettin Con review soon, but it was definitely a learning experience, so allow me to share some insights with you!

Gen Con Online infographic.

Some novice-friendly advice for con-goers

Again, I’m not an expert, but I’ve run across a few tricks and problems that I wanted to share. Firstly, remember that although it may seem easier to attend these events, it still takes a lot of energy and effort to be there on time, and attentive for the duration. So be careful not to over-commit by signing up for too many events. And leave yourself some time between sessions or events to recoup and do things like taking bathroom breaks, having food, and spending time with other people (if you share your living space with others). And be particularly careful about signing up for events that are too close to one another. An hour seems like a lot, until one of your sessions goes long.

Secondly, you should be aware that timezones can confuse other people as much as they confuse you – even organisers get mixed up sometimes. Remember to be on time! Setting yourself a calendar reminder helps with that, both when you’re planning and when you’re juggling con events and other responsibilities on the day itself.

It’s also important to remember that international events may have different rules for social interactions than what you’re used to. After all, you’re playing with strangers, and you’re playing on-line so it’s harder to judge when people feel uncomfortable. But that includes you – so it may mean that you need to be more considerate of others than what you’d have to be while playing with people you know. But equally it could mean realising that you can say, “Hey, this thing is making me feel uncomfortable.”

Finally, take some time long before the events begin to check that you’ve got all the technology and apps set up. Consider putting together a list of all the links, or simply add them to the calendar reminders for individual events. It saves a lot of time, especially if things go wrong and you need to find the relevant session last minute!

Free RPG Day – Stay tuned!

Oh – one last thing. Tomorrow (Saturday, 25 July) is Free RPG Day! Earlier this week I finished editing a set of three supplements that the San Jenaro Co-Op created specifically for the event. Look for an update tomorrow morning, or as soon as the link goes live. Till then, enjoy gayming!