Now that CanGames for 2015 is a wrap, I thought that I would write a post with some thoughts and observations about the convention this year. I'll start this off by saying that without the assistance and help of spross, I could not have done what I did at the convention this year, heck, I might not have gone to the convention this year! Between the ankle/leg pain and some of the back spasms that I was wracked with, and having to deal with the insulin therapy in the warm conditions at the convention, I could not have managed at the convention without his help. The fact that I couldn't drive due to the complications of the insulin therapy... Anyway, I'm just grateful that spross was willing and able to give me a hand with everything he did for me at the convention.
I also want to thank the CanGames 2015 convention committee and staff for all their hard work and dedication in bringing us this installment of Ottawa's gaming convention. These folks work hard every year to make sure that the convention runs as smoothly as possible, and while there were a few glitches here and there, this year's convention went pretty smoothly.
I also want to talk about a simple truth here: This was the first convention I have attended since I started insulin therapy back at the end of November, 2014. I've been on insulin for just over six months now, and my body is still adjusting to this treatment and so I had to be very careful about certain things at CanGames this year. I handled certain aspects of the convention very well, but other elements not so well, and this served as a lesson to me for next year, as well as giving me some guidelines that I'll need to follow when I go to GenCon Indy at the end of July this year. It's not just about keeping the blood sugar levels balanced, but paying attention to everything else that the insulin therapy does to the body. That said, the usual stress of going to conventions was added to this year with my worry over my goddaughter's health, after she was admitted to the hospital early Friday morning. But enough of this stuff...
As a general rule, I go to CanGames every year for a variety of reasons, the gaming of course being primary. It's fun to run and play rpgs with which you're familiar with strangers, as you get to see different ways of playing characters, views on the game in question and its world and mechanics, and I find it a challenge to play with people different from those that I game with in my Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday groups. Another reason I go to CanGames is to renew friendships and acquaintances, and to make new connections and ties to the gaming community. While I've known many of the CanGames organisers for at least a decade or three, there were a few new faces this year, and that's always a good thing - gaming conventions and sf & fantasy conventions need new blood among the organisers to keep them fresh. Among the friends I met there this year, there was spross (of course), my friend knightbane from Smith Falls (who was only up for Saturday) with his band of cronies, tashiro, and several others, to name a few. (If I've forgotten you, please accept my apologies.) I saw a lot of other acquaintances at the convention and chatted with them, as well as a few new folks, and I want to say that if you're a LiveJournal subscriber or a Twitter frequenter please post a comment here (or there, in the case of Twitter) and say "Hi". I met and talked with a few new folks as well, including some who played in the four games that I ran this past weekend, and I hope to see more of them at future incarnations of CanGames. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend from a social viewpoint, as well as the gaming aspects of it.
From the perspective of the roleplaying games that I ran at the convention, I had a pretty good time. "Reunion" is a River of Heaven RPG game scenario that was a good introduction to the RoH universe and to this hard pre-Singularity game. The players did a really great job Friday night in this game, and I enjoyed it tremendously. "Stranded!" is a scenario for the Primeval RPG that really was well-received by the players of the game on Saturday afternoon, and was a lot of fun. This adventure doesn't use the characters from the tv series, and so that makes it more interesting in a lot of ways for players, and the characters for this scenario were an interesting mix that the players really had fun with. That and the alternate timeline potential! :) "Good Fences Make Good Neighbours" is a lovely introductory scenario for the Chill 3rd Edition RPG that I ran Saturday night, and while it was marred for me by the disruptive presence of one player, I was glad to learn that all of the players had a great time in the scenario, and loved the game system and mechanics. I'll be running Chill again at CanGames 2016, and hope some of these same players come out for that one. Finally, "The Last Witness" for the River of Heaven RPG that I ran on Sunday was a neat adventure that had a group of great players that had a lot of fun with the adventure, and this was my favourite game session of the weekend. It served to make me feel better after the (what I felt was a) mess of a game on Saturday night. Just a lovely game.
One of the things that pleases me no end every CanGames is the sheer number of kids and youngsters that play in various games. While I didn't have any kids playing in the games that I ran this year, there was a good number of children's games including Forbidden Island, Camp Myth, D&D, and Simple Superheroes, to name but a few. And there was no lack of older children to be found in some of the more mainstream games as well. As per last year, the convention folks set up the games for the Children's gaming out on the curling sheet area in a central section that was walled off somewhat, surrounded by the various miniature games and other stuff going on out on the curling sheet surface. A good move again this year.
As per usual, there were a lot of assorted games going on at the convention this year, and while the gaming tables away from the curling surface were put to good use this time out, I found that given the sheer size of the curling sheet surface, there didn't seem to be as much gaming out there, as plenty of tables seemed empty through the less busy time slots at the convention. From a gaming point of view, there was a lot of games beings played, quite diverse in their subject matter. While I can't discuss the miniatures games, not being that up on them, there were lots of board games, roleplaying games, and miniature games on display this year, as well as several card games. While there was the usual D&D and Pathfinder stuff going on (the latter in its own, devoted area out on the curling sheets), there was something to play for everyone. I was pleasantly surprised once more to see the willingness on the part of some folks to play new games and to try new things this year. My own games of the River of Heaven and Chill 3rd Edition games were good examples of that, with folks with no experience with the system (and in some cases, no experience roleplaying at all!) playing both the former and the latter. Of course, there were the players who stuck to the rpgs that they knew and GMs with whom they felt comfortable. The main rpg area on the main floor near the convention Registration area was full of games.
One observation that I will make is that either there were less roleplaying games this year at CanGames or that there were more attendees at the convention this year. While the D&D, Pathfinder, and a couple of the other mainstream rpgs were booked or overbooked, there were other rpg game sessions (such as Steve's 2300 AD that got filled up rather quickly once the sign-up sheets were put out 1/2 an hour in advance of play. While I didn't have to work too hard in recruiting players for my four game events, I saw several other gamers who were put to the test filling their game tables, but they managed this year.
I was a little disappointed in the CanGames Marketplace this year, as while there was some interesting stuff to be found, I didn't really see anything that I was desperately wanting or that I was looking for. I had hoped to find a copy of some old Chill RPG gaming stuff, and maybe some stuff to use for Sword & Sorcery gaming, but didn't see anything I was looking for. A couple of board games and card games tantalized me, but I was trying to save money this year (for GenCon, coming up in late July), and went into the Marketplace with a small budget. I took a modicum of stuff to sell at the CanGames Booth this year (I wrote a separate journal entry about this before the convention, several actually), but I didn't sell as much stuff as I had hoped. I did go and spend some of my money at the Sweet Ingenuity booth, but that was stuff that I picked up for my goddaughter (who is currently ill with diabetes-related problems), so that was good. Emily Griggs had some really nice stuff at the booth, and is a really good person as well. So go check out the website linked above. :)
Like the last few years, however, my biggest gripe about CanGames 2015 has to be the food. If one can call it that (from my perspective). While the prices on the food did go down somewhat, the convention committee folks seem to think that if they offer salads, that's healthy eating. This year, with my added concern over the fact that I'm now taking insulin, I didn't eat a single meal from the curling club cafeteria during the convention. There's nothing really healthy to eat on the menu at the Rideau Curling Club during the convention, and being diabetic just makes it worse. To add insult to injury, if the convention would open their pocketbooks a bit more and offer some of the usual fare that curlers at the curling club eat during the Curling season, we'd be much better off. I think the CanGames folks really need to provide a few more choices, make the food fresh and provide healthy choices. The Rideau Curling Club regular season menu would be a good place to start, because I suspect that other folks besides myself wouldn't mind paying $13 or $14 for a decent, healthy meal. Or maybe not, given the nature of gamers.
And finally... You may have noticed that I haven't posted any pictures of people in close up from this year's convention. That's because CanGames is applying the privacy protections set out in the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA). Here's the relevant link from said site:
CIPPIC: Copyright and Privacy in Photography
While I understand why the convention wants to use this law, to be honest, it takes away from the human-ness of CanGames, unless you get the permission of *all* the people that are in a given photograph, and makes the convention somewhat faceless. It doesn't allow the person who took the photographs to show how much fun *PEOPLE* are having at the convention, just taking photos of the game tables themselves. I don't agree with this policy at the convention (which is *not* listed in the convention booklet, and should be), but I will honour it. But next year, a lot of folks at some of the game tables are going to get verbal requests from me to use their likenesses in pictures of gaming at the convention. And I expect to see the same courtesy extended to me and mine.
Overall, I have to say that I was pretty happy with this year's incarnation of CanGames. I saw friends and acquaintances, and made new ones; I ran four games (two River of Heaven, one Primeval, and one Chill 3rd Edition) that went very well for the most part, and had full tables for them, and hopefully will see some of these gamers at my tables next year; I took care of my health as best I could, with one major glitch along the way; and had a great time in the Ottawa gaming environment that is this convention. I mean, yes, there were some minor glitches and a headache or two, and I had some health problems that were a bit disconcerting at times, but such is normal for the convention (at least for me).
Heck, I'm already looking forward to CanGames 2016! :) And I hope that some of the folks reading this journal are already planning for the convention, and I'll see you there! :)
And that's it. The final post about this year's CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa. Hope everyone enjoyed these four journal entries about the convention, and please remember that comments are welcome. :)