Just reports about his visit to GenCon. Comment for a chance to win a FanLit bookmark signed by R.A. Salvatore.
Each year in Indianapolis, thousands gather for what’s called “The Best 4 Days in Gaming.” Gencon Indy was held from August 5th to August 8th, 2010. This gathering of nerds is the largest of its kind in the country. If you are into Dungeons & Dragons or board games, this is your Mecca because over 8600 gaming-related activities are held over four days. Gencon is awesome, but you may be wondering how much it relates to fantasy. The truth is, without fantasy as inspiration, Gary Gygax would never have created Dungeons & Dragons. Without fantasy and science fiction, the worlds in which these games are based would not exist. At Gencon you will find long lines for both Will Wheaton and R.A. Salvatore. I decided to attend Gencon on behalf of FanLit so I could explore the elements that relate to us fantasy fans, and to take pictures of people much nerdier than me.
I arrived at the Indiana Convention Center at about 9am. I soon spotted what I would lovingly call a “Nerd Herd” heading east. It was easy to spot, as at least three people in the group were carrying foam battle axes, dressed in full armor complete with wire-framed glasses. I was able to blend in smoothly with my sandal-shod feet and a t-shirt featuring the FanLit dragon MettleStorm the Bookwyrm (get yours here). Don’t let me fool you, I was just as excited to be there as the myopic barbarian next to me. I’ve been attending Gencon for years, and I’ve rarely felt more amongst my kind than I did in the groups of slightly overweight warriors, wizards and pink haired Japanese school girls.
My first surprise happened when I walked into the press area to get my credentials. I was warned that an interview was going on and asked to be careful not to make any noise. Sitting at a long table was Sandeep Parikh and Robin Thornsen from the very popular web series The Guild. I love The Guild in all its high-quality independent awesomeness. As I made for the exit, I noticed that Felicia Day was sitting in one of the chairs along the wall. In the realm of Geekdom, she is a queen. I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for the press ambushing the guests of honor in the press room, but I decided a handshake and a few nervously mumbled words of appreciation would be well below the threshold. She was nice, and probably frightened, but I did manage to get across my point: I am a big fan and The Guild is awesome. Then, I ran from the room before I squealed in a very non-journalistic fashion.
It was going to be hard to top greeting Felicia Day, but I was determined to try. I met up with my brother and his girlfriend, and we made our way towards Author Alley to meet R.A. Salvatore. The line was long, but the wait was worth it. Mr. Salvatore was gracious with his time. He was chatty and friendly, and I walked away with some autographs and a free signed copy of The Ghost King. While in Author Alley I also approached Anton Strout, author of the SIMON CANDEROUS series and a Fanlit favorite. Anton was super awesome, and my copy of Dead Matter was signed “Deadly Yours,”. Whenever I go to meet an author, I generally try to bring along a paper with their promo photo and have them sign it. It goes up on a wall in my office. I’ve only recently started to do this, and it’s always fun to see authors’ reactions at signing a picture of themselves. The reactions have varied. Jim Butcher said “oh wow,” Pat Rothfuss was flattered and maybe a little frightened. Anton’s reply was simply “I’m such a beautiful man,” which is by far the best response yet. Thanks Anton Strout!
After harassing the literary talent, we made our way to the art gallery. Rows and rows of disgustingly talented artists were displaying their works, and all of them were very accessible. I met a couple of fantasy artists that stood out. Jessica Cox, an Indiana native, had many beautiful pieces, and was very nice to talk to. Alain Viesca (link somewhat NSFW) and his Asian-themed fantasy works blew me away. Everything he had was simply stunning.
Prior to going to Gencon, I did some research, looking for a few things the Fanlit readers would be interested in. One of the places I wanted to visit was the Evil Hat Productions booth. Evil Hat is the creator of the Fate RPG engine, and happens to be the company behind the DRESDEN FILES RPG. I’m a huge Dresden fan and I was eager to talk with Evil Hat and have a look at the game materials. The game looks to be incredibly detailed, making me wish I lived in a place where I might find a group that played these kinds of games. The team who created it worked closely with Jim, and Jim even wrote a few things exclusively for the materials. My Butcher library will always be incomplete as long as the Dresden RPG Volumes 1 and 2 are not among my shelves.