At the end of July, I made the trip to Espoo, Finland, where I, along with Vincent Baker (author of Dogs in the Vineyard, his website is at http://www.lumpley.com/ ) were invited to be the Guests of Honor at Ropecon 2013. Before being invited, I’m sad to say that I’d never really given Finland any thought. But once I had the opportunity to go, I’m pleased to say that I had a wonderful time and met a number of very gracious people.
Now, I saw and did so many things in Finland that I’m not going to be able to fit them into a single blog post. Instead, in this first post I’m going to talk about Ropecon, and in my second post I’ll talk about Finland. I’ll apologize in advance, because I’m sure that I’m going to leave out some people who deserve a mention, but there was simply so much to see and do, and so many wonderful people that my notes were bound to leave someone out. Anyway, let’s talk about Ropecon…
Upon arriving in Finland, I was greeted at the airport by Timo, a very friendly gentleman who was my handler for the trip. Between him, and a couple other kind folks, I was pretty much always where I needed to be, never went hungry, and never got bored. Can’t ask for more than that, right?
Well, the Ropecon team went above and beyond in many ways, not the least of which was the amazing PR work they did. They set up interviews with no less than 4 radio journalists and even an interview for TV. I think perhaps the most interesting experience was showing up for one of the radio interviews, only to find out that it was going to be done live on the air! Thankfully, I didn’t choke too badly. For those interested, here are the interviews I’ve been able to find and/or have been directed to online (note that you may need to make use of Google Translate as many of these are in Finnish):
The interview starts at 16:08, and it will remain online until the end of August, 2013):
This was the live radio interview:
And these interviews are text-only (Google Translate is your friend!):
I’ll be sure to post other interviews if I find stable links to them.
At Ropecon itself, they had a fairly impressive opening ceremony with a small musical number (their convention anthem), a wonderful MC named Johanna who brought Vincent Baker and I up on stage to talk to us a bit. After that, a very good band played for a while. (I gather that they played longer than planned, but I quite enjoyed it anyways).
Ropecon took place in two buildings and the area around them. The main building was unusual, a bit of a labyrinth, to be honest. Fortunately, I never got too lost, but I did occasionally circle back on my own path a bit. Among the events they had at Ropecon were: boffer sword fighting, card games, board games, miniature games, RPGs, LARPs, a Rock-paper-scissor tournament, various guest lectures, and a costume gala. I watched the boffer sword semi-finals, and I had to marvel at how much hopping practice they must need to get good. LARP is apparently huge in Finland, and I participated in a number of interesting conversations about it at the show.
I met a number of very nice people at the con, including many excited fans. I probably signed a dozen box lids, all told. One young lady wanted a photo with me and invited me to join her and her friends for a game of Arkham Horror, which I did for as long as my schedule allowed. It’s always nice to run into people who enjoy my games at conventions, as it’s a good reminder that what I’m doing with my life makes other people happy and isn’t totally frivolous. When you’re a game designer, sometimes there’s the worry that you should be out trying to cure cancer or something instead, so it’s good to get the occasional reassurance.
While I was running Generation Hex demos (while I’ll post more on soon), I also tried out a demo of a card game called Serpent’s Tongue ( http://www.becomemagi.com/ ). Overall, I liked the game. It had the very novel mechanic of actually having to “cast” the spells on your cards using a hand gesture and a word. Apparently, it’s already been kickstarted, quite successfully, and I wish them the best of luck!
The other main activity I partook in was giving three lectures. The first was a Ropecon tradition, in which I talked (quite boringly) about myself for about 15 minutes, and then opened it up to questions with a sigh of relief. The second was the easiest talk, being about my 3 pillars of game design (math, art, and psychology). Now that I’ve started to formalize my thoughts on that a bit, you can bet I’ll be blogging about it at some point. The third and final talk was a bit more technical, being advice to those trying to sell board games, including info on royalties, contract clauses and so on. I feel like having information like that circulating helps things get better for all game designers.
This is starting to run quite long now, so I’ll cut it off here and include the last few Ropecon activities in the 2nd part, when I talk about Finland in general. Hopefully I’ll also remember anything/anyone I’ve forgotten by then!