Ember Dev Blog, Part 18!

I’ve been working at the NEA Game Fest 2023 convention, and it’s huge this year. I’m a few days behind on posts, but I’ll give you the last couple of days for completeness. I’m not sure if this will be interesting reading, but it might help do future planning.

Basically I’m friends with almost everyone who’s putting this thing on or working there in an official capacity. I’m even wearing a “Guild Guide” t-shirt, as I’m a member of the NEA Gamer’s Guild. Basically if there’s a problem at the convention, you look for me or someone else wearing one of these shirts and we’ll get you fixed up, or point you to someone who can. It’s a fun exercise in responsibility. Fortunately there haven’t been any disasters that have required “all-hands-on-deck”, as it were, so we’re all grateful for that. Everyone is having fun, and the worst thing I’ve seen so far is one little kid trip and fall and it made him cry. He was up on his feet in a few seconds after his dad helped him tie his shoes, and the entire incident was forgotten as he ran away to do more kid things. Life is good.

The first day I was in the general gaming hall because that’s where they had room to put me. I was hoping I could get one of the large gaming tables in the entryway, but it worked out really well. I got lost on the way to the convention as I thought I remembered how to get there. I did not remember how to get there. I wound up about a mile away trying to get my bearings in a parking lot via GPS, when Kier Heyl called me asking where I was. I was supposed to start at Noon, and there were already people waiting for me at the table. I assured him I was just three minutes away (because that’s what Google told me), and I hit the “Start” arrow on Google Maps to get me going where I should have already been.

I got lost again because I was in a rush and frankly I panicked. I took a left that I never should’ve taken and realized it immediately. I tried to turn around on this gravel road, but there was a trap there. The ground was gumbo mud, and I got stuck. I couldn’t go forward, but I was able to reverse out of the mess, sling mud all over creation, and dig one whopping hole in the ground. I turned around a bit further down (it was a job site), and got back on track, dutifully obeying Google’s voice assistant this time.

I arrived at the convention and got a pretty good parking space. I checked in, and was hustled to a table where there were indeed three people waiting on me to schlep in. I greeted everyone, apologized for being late, citing stupidity, and we all had a great time. I’ll spare you the details of the game and the people. Nobody was a jerk all day. I wish I could say that for every convention I’ve attended.

Speaking of attendance, it was indeed thin. Not many people signed up for my games because they didn’t. Nobody knew who I was, and I’d lost so much mindshare. I gave the best games I possibly could, and people even bought the last of my available Player’s Guides.

Speaking of Player’s Guides, they came in on Friday after I had already gone to the convention site. I would’ve given them to the Eclectic Geekery folks to sell, but they didn’t arrive at the house until about 3 PM, and I was already out of town by that time. My phone kept ringing incessantly all the time I was at the con on both days, and I anticipate they’ll do the same thing today because the phone people are bastards. I never get calls from people I want to talk to anyway it seems. I think I’ll just turn the thing off and let it all go to voicemail on Saturday.

The trip home on Thursday was a bit dodgy. All that mud had boogered up my right front wheel something awful, and threw the entire suspension system out of balance. At highway speeds it became noticeable to the point of concern. I was wondering if I’d bent something that oughtn’t to be shaped that way, and resolved to wash the car before I headed out the next day.

Friday’s games were postively anemic. I had exactly ONE person signed up for a game at 4 PM, and nobody else was there all day. A nice girl from a game on Friday sat and ate her lunch and talked to me for a few minutes during the first session (which happens sometimes), and another three people wandered in to play the 4 PM game, but since nobody was signed up for 8 PM, I told the organizers I was calling it a day and packing it in. Things looked to be winding down about that time anyway. I kind of wish I’d gotten a room at the motel, but I keep making the drive to and from home instead. Fortunately the car was what I needed, and the gak in the wheel came out, restoring balance to the (centripetal) force. Man, that was awful. Physics jokes, amirite?

On the plus side, a guy from Thursday’s Noon session came around, and as it turns out he teaches Anthropology in Conway. Where was this dude when I needed him years ago? I asked if he would be willing to work with me on some stuff, and he gave his contact information, so Woohoo! I potentially have me an expert resource!

Boy, I wish I knew that. I think I’ve got one person signed up for Noon tomorrow, and I hope more people come. I’ll run a solo game if I have to, but I don’t know how much fun I can make it. Will advise. Other than that, there is no one signed up for the 4 PM and 8 PM games. I’ll stay until 8 to see if anyone hits the sign-up sheet, because I figure Saturday will be our biggest day and a lot of weekend warriors will flood in. Fridays never have been good for me anyway, so I don’t know what I was expecting. Again this is for charity, and I’m down with that. Still, I wish more people would come play. The 5E D&D people don’t seem to have a problem drawing a huge crowd, and I’m envious.

Things aren’t going bad, but they could go a whole lot better. I’m sure Saturday will turn around. Besides, I’ve got three people signed up on Sunday for one my two short adventures. One day at a time, man. One day at a time.

I love my job.

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