Blurbs from the booth- Can we enjoy something for once?

Let’s talk about three things that just came out-

Jurassic World Trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFinNxS5KN4

Star Wars 7- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOVFvcNfvE

Terminator Genisys- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62E4FJTwSuc

 

So odds are you’ve all watched those trailers, and my question to you is:  Can we no longer feel joy?  The reaction I’ve seen to all three of these trailers is overwhelmingly negative.  Why?  Those trailers don’t look any different from any other trailer for an amazingly awesome movie.  What’s happened?   From debate over how a light saber looks to outright racist reactions about Stormtrooper skin color, everybody is unhappy with these movies.  We’ve got almost a year till some of these movies come out.  Now, if you don’t want an action movie, then you’re right to say I don’t want to see that movie.  But, honestly all three look great and are all aimed at our inner geeks.

If you want to get into debates about little things, let’s look at all the logic together.  Lightsabers are an amazingly stupid idea!  They would kill most people who picked them up.  Even the Jedi/Sith would most likely kill themselves than their targets.  Also, lightsabers can’t block projectiles.  Lasers weapons work fine against blocking lasers, but three drunken rednecks with shotguns can kill even the most skilled force user.  But, you know what? They look really cool.  It’s Christmas time.  And, if you’re giving gifts, when you finish with the roll of wrapping paper, guess what noise we all make while swinging the tube around?  Same goes with Jurassic World.  Looks great and will be a fun ride.  We’ve got Pratt riding shotgun with some velociraptors and some new genetically modified dino thrown in the mix.  I’ve got a PhD in biochemistry.  If I wanted to start tearing down the movie, I could.  From dino’s mostly likely being covered in feathers to the fact the half life of DNA in amber is two million years, Jurassic Park could not happen.  But, that movie hits me right in the inner 12 year old.  Sometimes, you just have to let that child out and enjoy the ride.

I see this a lot in the geek community.  DnD 4e come out and most people didn’t even want to try to play it.  Now if you played it and didn’t like it, then you get to have an honest opinion.  DnD 5e comes out, and those same people who hated DnD4e sight unseen now hate this new product.  But, if you haven’t even seen the end product, or even read a summary of the product, why are you making opinions on things?  That’s like deciding you hate a style of music without even hearing a 30 second snippet of a song.  If the movies come out and they do suck, then I don’t have a problem with honest criticism.  But, let’s criticize the thing when it’s here.  Right now, we have 88 seconds of a two hour movie.

So my question is: can we feel joy anymore?  Can geeks see something new and not just jump on the hate bandwagon?  Do we have a compulsive need to hate so much you want to be the hate hipster who’s driving the bandwagon?  I’m sorry you can’t have that joy again of being young again with life being much simpler, but try to see the joy that exists in the world.  New things don’t have to suck, and you don’t have to hope the suck either!  Can we all just try to feel some joy?

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Blurbs from the Booth-The Games We Play

Note- I love my wife, but this one might seem a bit down on her.  It’s not.  She’s who I most often game with-either because she loves the games we play, or (more likely) it’s because I drag her into my insane adventures.  Love you my dear.

 

I’ve been thinking about the games I play most often.  Once a month, I get a game of Pathfinder Society in as well as some Shadowrun and DCCRGP.  But weekly, I get a game of DnD in as well as the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  Why so much love for DnD and the Card Game?

Well, I think it’s because of WHO I’m playing with as opposed to WHAT I’m playing.  Most often around dinner, my wife and I will cook and then set up the Adventure Card Game.  It’s fun, and it’s better than just staring at the TV while we eat.  So, I play that game a ton.  What I don’t play is the Shadowrun Crossfire game as much.  It’s not a bad game, but my wife doesn’t like it as much.  Since Jackson’s gaming scene is pretty small and I like my wife, I choose to play with her.  So, no Crossfire on the weekly schedule.

This also goes out to non-cooperative games as well.  My wife hates games like Agricola.  It’s far too much stress as you NEVER have enough time to do all the things that you want to do.  I enjoy the frustration a bit, but she’s of the opinion that gaming shouldn’t be a stressful as life.  Also, she hates games like Magic: the Gathering and Sentinels of the Multiverse.  Both of those are games where you have to read a ton of information on small cards.  She love games like 7 Wonders as they play quick, have good strategy, and don’t make you read a novel each time you play a card.

I’m a pretty universal gamer, and I hope that the blog posts have shown you that.  So, how do I do that AND play games with my wife?  Well, I have to actively seek out other opportunities to game.  Cons are a great way to find the random games to play.  This is a great way to get new games to the table and to meet new gamers.  Also, buying the equivalent of a board game a week can get expensive, so cons give me a chance to play a game and not have to buy that full thing!

I also game online.  OCTGN, Board Game Arena, Board Game Geek, Roll20, and Boiteajeux also give me a chance to try new games, meet new players.  I don’t have to drive cross-country to play some new awesome games, and I get to see what else is out there.  Bonus-all of these are free!  Check them out if you get a chance.

And, as a final way to get new games out there, I game at my local store once a week and twice a month at a local groups clubhouse.  At these places I bring whatever games I want as I drag my friends into whatever strange Euro-card-dice-3D game hybrid I bought of some strange backwoods website.  It’s a blast when you can meet the crazy gamers out there who will enjoy whatever is brought to the table.

How about you?  Who do you game with, how do they shape the way you game, and what do you do to play different games?

Blurbs from the Booth- Being offensive

Last weekend, I was running games at U-Con.  It’s a fun local convention near Ann Arbor, MI.  Last slot of the con and all things are going well.  I get a few people to sit at my table, and a few more people enter the room, and I wave them over gregariously yelling “There’s always room for one more!”  I start my game the standard way by asking everybody to talk about themselves.  One person asks “About my character or myself?”  I say “sure!” And my player tells the group he’s a motivational speaker for Autistic people as he’s playing a crazy Halfling rogue.  Great, we have a fun character at the table, so I’m looking forward to this game.  The game goes well.  I’m loopy from lack of sleep, so my table and I are a little slap happy and having a blast.  Until, we hear something from another table.  Another GM is talking about some NPC’s and mentioned that they were jumping around like a bunch of “spastic, autistic kids.”  I watched as my motivational speaker instantly went from having fun to pissed as he grabbed his phone to text somebody.   Whatever what said with that text can only be good things!  Right? We finished the game and had fun, but I know he was more than a little hurt by what happened.

Honestly, had I not known someone was in the room with me who would be offended, I might have said the same thing if presented with describing the same characters.  But that doesn’t really excuse that kind of offense.  We live in a pretty small world nowadays.  Not only are characters diverse, but the player base is pretty open as well.  The base rules alone mention all the different types of people you can play.  But, they don’t mention all the different types of people WHO play.  Gamers are not just white guys any more (despite what #gamergate is up to).  We’re diverse, and that diversity has some pitfalls.

What do I want you to get from all of this?  Well, keep in mind you represent.  If you’re running an RPG for the KKK (what the hell would that be?) you don’t really have to worry about who you offend.  But, in an open game at a store or a con, words can really hurt.  I know more than a few words that will get my blog destroyed by commenters (hurray traffic!), but using those words in an open game is equally as bad.  If you’re running a game for Wizards of the Coast, they want that game as open and inclusive as possible.  And saying some hurtful things will not only make you look like an ass, it will also make WotC look like an ass.  Also, keep in mind you represent you.  I’m a big, self-deprecating guy.  I make fat jokes at my own expense, but sometimes, that’s not funny to other people in the room.  Common sense and reading your audience will make your games that much better.  Not just because common sense is good to have, but because you will be as open to as many gamers as possible.  And as we become more diverse, the better we all are.

Good luck and good gaming,

Ed

Blurbs from the Booth-The Price of Admission

I saw a thread on ENWorlds discussing how much you would pay at a hobby shop vs. how much you pay online.  I thought about that for a quite a while and I think I’d pay a lot.  Let’s give some examples and thoughts that go with that.

I don’t expect my store to just be a store.  The store is a place I hang out.  I’ve mentioned a few times that I want to make gaming happen.  Gaming is a major part of my life.  I spend lots of money buying games, lots of my time reading/learning games, and lots of my life running games at stores and cons.  My store is a part of my home.  I expect a friendly place where people know who I am, who care that I’m doing well gaming and in my life, and a place that wants me to be there running games.  I know that the store manager/owner is there because on some level he/she has to make money to eat and pay rent, but I also want him/her to be there because they love comics and gaming.  I want that person to want to make games happen too.

I need that store person to need gaming in their life too.  If you are just in the comics/gaming world to make a buck, leave.  That’s not insulting, it’s an economic reality!  There are much better ways to make a buck in this world that requires much less energy.  Franchising out McDonald’s are a much better investment.  Game stores die within the first year all the time, and you can’t just run that store 9 to 5.  I don’t know about you, but 9 to 5 is when I’m working.  So, any place that will give me time to play has to have their store open from 6 to 10.  So the shop keep is looking at a 13 hour day to deal with my crap!

I realize all of this.  I realize that these men and women are working their asses off.  Sure, running a store isn’t as physically exhausting as, say, 13 hours of manual labor like heavy construction of houses.  But it’s at least mentally draining since these people have to dance a hard dance to make all the bills happen while keeping the lights on and dealing with entitled gamers/comic fans all day.

Online shopping is great, but I have NO loyalty to anyone out there.  Sure, I’ll sign up for your discount program.  Yeah, give me your newsletter.  Fine, I’ll friend you on Facebook.  But I do not care about you.  You are a means to an end.  If my only interaction with you is to check a few boxes and have PayPal hand my money to you, then you are no better than any other http place to me.  I don’t feel you care.  You’re just a means to an end.  Amazon, you, any other of the dozens of sites I know, you’re all the same.  You may be much more, but if I’m not helping someone I know needs help in the gaming industry, it’s hard to know if you do or don’t care.

Cons are no better.  I’ll see some con vendors two times a year.  I’ll make some small talk, but I don’t owe any loyalty to you either.  You’re at this con to make some money.  Cons are high profile places where lots of geeks gather.  And you can make a ton of money fast if you know what you’re doing, and you brought the right stuff.  However, I will haggle with you.  Honestly, I will walk up to vendors with my cell phone in one hand and my debit card in the other.  If my local guy/gal can’t get an item, then any con seller is as good as Amazon.  So, if you, the con vendor, can’t meet Amazon’s price, that item can be at my house in two days (prime shipping is awesome!).  Same goes for some companies.  If you are big enough to have a giant booth at GenCon, I have no problems haggling with you.  The smaller companies get a pass, generally, but I have no problems haggling with the semi-large ones unless you’ve earned my loyalty.  If a company has proven time and time again that they are great to their customers, like Fantasy Flight with its rock solid customer support or Wizards of the Coast with its FREE open play programs, then I will not try to fight them on price.  In either case, I expect a deal at a con.  At a con you’re cutting out all the middle men.  If you want to get more money from cutting out those people, then I expect to get a break too.  If you sell for 80% at a con, your still ~40% more then you normally get.  I know this, you know this, now let’s make a deal!

But, when I find a local store that gives me its time/play space, friendship, and a passion for gaming, they get my money.  If you treat me with respect, I’ll put quite a number of hours into making your store the best store I can find.  I’ll run my games there, post about it on Facebook, tweet upon my Twitter, and overall make you a part of my life.  And, for the feelings I get from your store, I’ll pay full price.  I won’t screw around asking for discounts (but giving them to me does help keep me loyal!).  I won’t be an ass and haggle over small things.  I’ll show up every week, pay for my orders, even though I know I’m losing money vs. online shopping, and I will do that with a smile on my face.  That is the price of admission to these places and the feelings and support we gamers get there.