Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Day With the Gamers

Escape to Another World

I got out of the house today and out of my routine.  I drove across town to attend the final day of the MidSouthCon 30 here is Memphis.  It has been a long time since I attended a convention of any type. Fifteen years ago I went to a STAR TREK convention in San Diego.  Things are done differently on the West Coast.  Most notably the number of celebrity guests is always higher as many active and retired stars live in easy driving distance.

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the guests.  Nerds still look like nerds and gaming geeks still look like gaming geeks. What has changed is nerds, geeks and gamers are no longer social outcasts.  Nerds have become socially acceptable over that last few decades after the general population took to computers and discovered that nerds are not only useful but they have the potential to earn vast amounts of money.

Another thing changed from my early days of geekdom is the ubiquitous electronics; they were everywhere.  I was there pushing my own eBook TULA WARS for the KINDLE.  When I purchased a book from an author she read my card using a banking app on her cell phone.  Guests had the schedule of events on iPhones and tablets with events they were interested in highlighted and posting audible notices when set times approached.

Electronics were at the gaming tables as well.  I started out when Dungeons & Dragons© was played with stacks of books, bags of dices and paper character sheets.  We used to draw maps by hand on graphing paper – not anymore.  Today I saw Role Playing Games (RPGs) of all sorts where the Game Master sat behind a laptop instead of a cardboard screen.  Everything he needed was indexed and searchable.  One of the players had his character sheet on a tablet.  Dice still clattered on the table but not much else remained from the early days.

My Superman tee-shirt gave me adequate cover to blend in but my ball cap started and carried most of the conversations.  It read “Navy Retired” along with the gold braid.  Many people wanted to hear about my time in the service.  I spent most of my sea time on a ship with the most recognizable name in geek world, the USS ENTERPRISE.  You might as well walk around wearing a flight suit; you couldn’t capture more ears with any other name.

I swapped business cards with a lot of local writers and hope to set up an online interview sometime soon.  Overall, it was a good experience.  I recommend attending a convention of some type at least once.  You are guaranteed to come away with interesting stories.  You will meet unique people with a different take on the world.  You can take some great pictures of attendees in costume (some of them quite pretty and scantily clad!)  Most of all, you just might learn something. 

Don’t forget to buy a t-shirt!

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