Written June, 2010

Rudicon ‘94

Rummaging Through the Attic of My Mind

I recently received an email from an employee at Wizards. Apparently a friend of mine who still works there is retiring, and the employee was trying to find pictures from ‘the old days’ for her retirement party. In her initial email, this staffer mentioned “I didn’t start at the company until after you left, but we did meet once when you gave a talk at a game convention in Rochester, NY in 94-95.”

When I wrote back to her, one of the things I said was “Great googlimoogli! Rudicon! We met there? And you ended up at Wizards? Wow.”

“I’m amazed that you remember Rudicon! I vividly remember you passing around your copy of Proposal and thinking that you must have been insane to pass something that rare around a conference room.”

I thought there might be another person or two somewhere out there who might enjoy my reply:

I had a great time at Rudicon, I remember many things about it. My contact missed me at the airport because they were expecting me to be wearing my giant cavalier hat with the three-foot ostrich plume, but Rudicon was part of an extended trip that involved biz in NYC afterwards, and then Icon on Long Island, so I left the hat home. (I don’t remember nearly as much about Icon, but I do remember the ‘guest’ dinner where I got to sit at a table with George Takai. {smile})

I remember talking about Magic in a lecture hall where I was at the bottom of a crater. Just me, sitting on one lonely chair, surrounded by avid fans. Yikes!

I played in a Car Wars tournament, and the guy I’d been teamed with and I won. My prize was the expansion to Hacker. Unfortunately, I never managed to get my hands on the basic Hacker game. When SJG finally re-released it, they released Hacker in a smaller box and included the expansion, so I still have “Hacker II: The Dark Side” on my shelf next to the re-released edition that already includes it. {chuckle}

I remember the ConCom asking me if I had anything I could donate to their charity auction. I hadn’t really brought anything with me that would work, so I suggested auctioning off lunch with me, although I felt like such an egomaniac for even suggesting it. They loved the idea, and I believe it even went for a non-embarrassing amount. If I recall correctly (and that’s by no means a sure thing), the auction was actually for the chance to take me out to lunch, so the winner not only had to pay to invite me, but had to buy me lunch as well. We had lunch at a Denny’s, or some more-or-less equivalent restaurant. They were gamers and/or college students, after all, and I think a little embarrassed to ask me if I was OK with that, but it was totally fine; I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to eat much anyway, I was so worried about being worth paying to have lunch with!

I think the only reason I’d suggested it at all was because Rudicon, as many conventions do, had planned a pre-convention dinner for staff and guests. Usually a convention will have a GoH arrive early, and of course the staff is running around setting up, so pre-planning to sit everybody down someplace for dinner the night before makes sense, and it gives the staff a chance to hang out with whatever Famous Person the convention is featuring that year.

However, I had not yet really acclimated to being a Famous Person. I go to game conventions because I love playing games. I hit a lot of conventions in 1994 as a company representative because I loved Magic, I loved working at Wizards, and it was tremendous fun to share that with people. Anybody could have walked up to me at a convention at that time and said “If you don’t already have plans, my friends and I would like to take you out to lunch,” and I would have said “Really? Wow! Well, sure! Thank you!”

The Rudicon committee had done a lot more than that. I don’t think they’d invited me specifically; a lot of game conventions at the time would just write to Wizards asking if the company would be interested in sending a representative of some kind. It also probably didn’t include airfare. But, as I mentioned above, I’d already had a company trip schedule to NYC to talk to book publishers, so it was easy to add Rochester to the itinerary. What they were doing was providing me room and board. When my contact person asked me if I would mind joining the staff at the pre-convention dinner, he was so tentative I almost laughed. Maybe I’d rather just relax by myself after my trip? Heck, no! Pre-con dinners are fun, and given what it was costing Rudicon to have me there at all, the least I could do was to show up for the staff dinner and try to be charming while they fed me.

So while I felt that it would have been extremely rude of me to have not joined the concom for dinner, they seemed to think that I would be bestowing a great honor if I deigned to dine with them, which was what led me, a day or so later, to suggest "Taking Snark out to lunch" as an item for their auction.

As for passing Proposal around the conference room: well, let us assume that somebody quietly slipped it into their pocket. As we’re getting ready to leave, I say “Hey, can I get my Proposal back? Does anybody know where it is?”

And there I would be, in a room with one thief, and a crowd of people who would absolutely die of shame and embarrassment if Snark’s Proposal wasn’t back in his hands in a few nanoseconds, and would probably resort to actions that might even be illegal to ensure that it reappeared ASAP.

I only worry about showing Proposal to people when I’m NOT in a crowded room at a gaming convention.