Monday, 2 June 2014

I have a dream, thoughts on a convention from one of the organisers

So I help to run Expo, but what do I think of it?

I have the problem that over the course of the weekend, I don’t get to see a lot of the convention, not the way everyone else does, I’m needed on the front desk most of the time and those times when I’m off the desk, It’s because I’m sorting something else somewhere in the building.  To get actual time to go and enjoy what I helped to build?

None of that I fear...

So here it is from the point of view of one of the people most involved in the convention.  I don’t see the convention, but you know what I do see?

Everyone else...

When people come into the con, they have to go right past me.  There’s a few that go in the other way, but sooner or later, if you’re in the con with a ticket, you’re going to go past me, and that gives me a perspective that very few people share. You know what else I see?

Smiles...

Everywhere...

This is something that brightens my heart in a way that I can’t easily describe.  I remember Gencon in the days of Loughborough and Manchester, in the days of Olympia and yes, even in the days of Minehead, and through all of it was that joyous revelation that I was amongst gamers.

People just like me...

Now I appreciate that the world has enough trouble with one of me, but as I look at all those people coming in, I see the people who’ve come distance to be there with us, and not just short distances, we had a number of people from the America’s this year, many more from Europe, and all of them coming to see the show and have a good time there.  Last year we ranked in the top five shows in the world, and I have no apologies here, I intend for us to one day be number one.

Impossible?

Twenty years ago, Gencon Milwaukee was the same size as us, and now it’s a juggernaut.  We’re not in America, and I know how that reduces our numbers, but I don’t care...

I have a dream...

I have a dream that one day gamers will no longer fear to tell their office mates or their friends on the work site what they do in their own time, that when someone brings out a board game, everyone doesn’t look at them like they need to grow up. 

I have a dream that the entry requirement for gaming will no longer be overweight white guy with beard, that there will be a place where it doesn’t matter what colour, gender, or orientation you are (And if I’m using the wrong terms, someone correct me, because this is important), you’ll be able to arrive at the convention and be treated no different from anyone else.  That whatever you play and whatever you do, it will not mark you in any way from anyone else, that there will no longer be board gamers and roleplaying gamers...

That there will only be gamers...

And you know what?

It’s happening...

I look around this year and I see families, I see children, I see the next generation in the scout troop that turned up on a trip, in the school group that landed on Sunday morning where last year they arrived in the afternoon.  I see married couples where one side is unconvinced, but they want to see what it’s all about because their other half is so enthused by it, and when they come out, they see what all the fun is about, and they want to come back next year, not only to be with their spouse, but for themselves...

And why does it work?

Because we only have one rule at the convention, and it’s don’t be a dick...

We understand it’s impossible to cater to every single wish of every single person, because many will have completely conflicting opinions and that always leads to a dead end.  So we don’t try, we concentrate on making the environment safe for everyone, so that whatever you want at our convention, you’re no different from anyone, you don’t have to worry that you’ll be victimised or preyed upon, you won’t be looked down on and you won’t be any different from anyone else.

You’re a gamer, just like everyone else there...

For myself, I concentrate on making things better for everyone, I concentrate on making the little changes so that the big ones will follow.  This year, on the Sunday, I shook hands with over a hundred people, every one of them had come to the desk to say the same thing.

“Thank you.”

Thank me?

I only built this, it’s all of you that make it what it is, it’s all of you that come here every year and make it better, it’s you that live my dream every year, and every year it’s you that convince me to try harder, to make it better, to bring more people in, to think up new things, to spend those long hours making sure that everything works, and I am thankful to you all for that...

So what do I see in Expo?

I see the future, I see the chance to make the gaming world not just what it wants to be but what it needs to be, and I’m a dreamer, but I’m a believer, and I believe that this can be done...

So I have a personal thank you list for the Expo, and it goes like this...

The Expo Team – Richard Denning, Tony Hyams, Mick, Pat, Jane, Caroline, Lindsey, Margaret, John, it takes a team to make something like this happen, and it’s good to have the people you can trust with you every step of the way.
Paco Jaen – For believing in a better world with the same intensity as me
Monte Cook and Shanna Germain – For travelling across the world to be with us this year and being some of the best ambassadors for the hobby I’ve ever met
My people - Adrian Scully, Alex Lane, Allison Reid, Amy Williams, Ben Counter, Ben Wilson, Bruce Cunnington, Carl Matthews, Carol Tierney, Chris Brockley Blatt, Chris Daly, Chris Manning, Chris Turnbull, the masterful Colin Foster, Dan Jewell, Darran Sims, “Iron GM” Dave Harrison, David Maher, David Winterbottom, Declan Feeney, Richard Williams, Fin Patterson, the inimitable Gary Loveridge, Gary Tierney, Graham Spearing, Ian Hambly, Ian Hawthorne, Ian Sandford, Jason Nelson, Jay Bush, the irrepressible Jinnie Cracknell, the true professional John Buston, Kenny Beer, the indefatigable Kevin Rolfe, Les Fry, Liam Gulliver, Lynn Yin, Mark Steedman, Martin Gowdy, Matt Lewis, Matt Wrycroft, The gentleman Matthew Dawkins, Matthew Rihan, the legendary Max Bantleman, Michael Wall, Mick Hand, Still smarter than the average bear Neil Gow, Nick Riggs, Wild man Nick Tyrell, Nicola Barnes, Nigel Clarke, Paul Baldowski, Paul Lawrence, Paul Rimmer, Pete Douglas, the inspirational Pete Griffiths, Phil Lucas, Phil Masters, the Master of the Path Rob Silk, Robert Yates, Robin Poole, Scott Dorwards, the craftsman Sean Connors, Shawn Comiskey, Doyen Simon Burley, Simon Kenny, Simon Matthews, Snowy, Sonya Dunbar, Steve Pearce, Steve Pettifer, Steven Martin, “Stop retraining my minions” Terry Thampillai, Tony Parry, Tony Porrett and last but by no means least, my constant companions through adventure, John Wilson and Sue Wilson.


Next year will be better...

3 comments:

  1. To echo the general sentiment of this, I had a whale of a time. Definitely attending again next year, and a thank you to yourself and all those who made the weekend possible!

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  2. It was a fantastic time, and a pleasure to attend, to play in, and to volunteer for. Great work and thank you.

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  3. Irrepressible....? I'll take that as a compliment ;)

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