This past weekend I headed up to New Jersey for the sixth annual CraigCon.
Back in college, I made a few great, lasting friendships playing D&D on a regular basis in the old "Conshohocken House". I lived in this house with 4 other people, 2 of which were gamers like myself. We started a game that I ran for close to a year.
One thing you have to understand was we played this game in the basement of that crowded house. The basement was such a mess by the end of that game that I was literally using a pile of old pizza boxes as a table to keep my books and dice. In retrospect it's amazing we didn't contract bubonic plague.
Even though I've played many games since, all a lot of fun, there was something about that particular campaign in the "Conshy House" that made it special. It was the perfect storm for a lot of us: we were at a transitional point between college and trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do with the rest of our lives (for my part I was in between college attendance at all). There were a lot of other things people were working through, things that put us squarely, forcibly in the realm of "adulthood". It was quickly becoming clear as these realities mounted that "things", whatever they were, were changing, and once they did, there would be no going back.
The characters in the Conshy game were an outlet as we coped with that. I'm sure if we had recorded those games and had a psychologist take a look at them now it would be an absolute treasure trove of analytic goodness.
Eventually the game ended, and time marched on. We all gradually moved away to various parts of the country. Whenever we talked we all agreed we missed gaming together. But more importantly we missed our friends.
Thus CraigCon was born (named for my pal Craig, who essentially hosted the first one at his hosue).
Now, many CraigCons later, the thing is a full fledged event. This year it was hosted by an honest to goodness gaming store (thanks go out to Reality's Edge), complete with a CraigCon discount on D&D goods. There were tons of new faces, and although turnout from the old Philly crew was minimal this year (only 3 of us counting myself), turnout was very good in terms of sheer numbers. It's pretty amazing to think this thing started as an excuse for old friends to hang out.
Altogether it was an absolute blast. It was great to see some younger faces in the crowd as well. Even though a lot of kids were in the store just to play the Magic card game, it's still cool to see people gaming and talking to each other face to face, especially with MMOs and their like gaining increasing popularity. I can't help but feel like something gets lost when these types of games get moved to a computer.
At its best CraigCon provides a chance to introduce people to different playing styles. At its worst it gives you a stomachache when you are walking into IHOP for your sixth straight meal.
The highlight for me was getting a chance to introduce Burning Empires to a new audience. The gents I ran the demo scenario for really took to it quickly, complete with a tremendous monologue by one of the players that had to be one of the best pieces of RP I've seen in that kind of environment for awhile.
Here's to six more years of gaming (and no IHOP for a year).