Running Games at Comicon

We’ll run Shadowrun; Because fighting a troll is no fun if it isn’t cybernetically enhanced. 
I had a great time at comicon, which you might expect, but if I’m honest, I was dreading it.

All I could think of was “What if it all goes horribly wrong”. Not only was I risking disappointment just by showing up and it not being all I’d hoped for, but I was gonna be on stage too as part of my Improv Troupe, and worst of all, I had my own section I was running, and I was going to be running it alone.

I was placed right next to the people playing Magic: The Gathering and WH40K, both with established fanbases in the UAE, and here I was trying to spark something new. Talking to the organizers there had already been a couple of miscommunications. My table had been given to some Kuwaiti guy. He had wanted to run D&D games and they thought we were the same people.

But he hadn’t shown up according to the organizers… in fact, the table next to him was empty too. Two no-shows. Two free tables.

“You can have them both if you want”.

Oh God no… I don’t even know if I can handle one, I need to be on stage too and there’s no-one to man them if I leave em…

“Great! I’ll take them!”

So I start to set up, I’ve brought as much as I could from the car, and ran back down to the for the second batch, I wave at Gimli as I pass him, he smiles, waves back, and says hello. I grab the rest of the stuff from the car. I realize what just happened.

I’m not f—ing Gimli… I’m John Rhy… oh forget it. 

I run back, carrying my stuff, but he’s gone inside and I can’t see where. Ah, he’s a big celebrity, probably doesn’t want to be pestered by fans. So I go back to my booth and start setting up. A few friends make appearances. A couple of people with VIP passes are wandering through the stalls but mostly people are still fixing things.

Hey! John Rhys-Davies is coming around saying hi to everyone!

Then he came round to my stall, like he did everyone’s stall, to wish us luck and ask us what we’re doing. This guy, who has been in films nominated for 30 Oscars, and won 17, is going around showing genuine interest in what people are here doing.

This in a town where many people with comparatively few accomplishments saunter around looking down on everyone else because they have an expensive handbag, or go to the best clubs.

“Well, I hope you make a ton of money!”
“Well thank you, but I’m not making any money here today, this is a labour of love”
“Even better!”

That set the tone for the rest of the con. The atmosphere was completely different from the elitist attitude of the big city. Nobody here was vying for status. Nobody had egos that needed to be massaged in order to get the slightest cooperation. Everyone was here just wanting to show people the things they loved doing.

The organizer showed up flustered because the Kuwaiti guy showed up and was asking for his table.

“Erm, this is the guy, he erm. He’s here. I mean do you… er”

“It’s fine. Go run the event. We’ll sort it out.”

Me and the kid calling himself Q were allied within about 30 seconds. He could have access to all my stuff if he was running games, and I’d talk to people about gaming and explain what it was to the newcomers. He could have one of the tables… in fact he could have both if he needed them.

No egos. No infighting. No alpha male bull I’m so used to in office politics, dealing with artists on the comedy circuit, or even family gatherings. If he wanted to take a break I’d deal with the games and he could look around the con. If I needed to take a break or look around the con, he’d take over.

The first people started to arrive, and I had to explain my booth to them, and am met, almost universally with “That sounds great! Can I play?”

All over the con I found people just like me, who had been telling colleagues in stuffy offices what they do in their spare time and had been met with at best, feigned interest.

Oh… that’s… certainly different. 

Stall by stall, early on day 1. “So what’s do you do” was met with timid explanations, followed by bursts of enthusiasm as the exhibitors realize the people here, even if fantasy, or comics, or cosplay, or gaming was not their “thing”, weren’t asking out of polite small talk.

The 2 days were a joy, I ran games, played games, talked to hundreds of like minded individuals, found some new comics I enjoy, several people who liked my booth brought food and water for me and the other people running games. Friends (old and new) came to help run and play games.

It was exactly what I’d been looking for: A cynicism free zone, in the middle of Dubai.

Next week: Shadowrun Writeup!

One thought on “Running Games at Comicon

  1. Man, I wish I hadn’t been working those days. Sounds awesome.

    Also, it sounds lik emy experience with cons. People are all so friendly and interesed and interesting. I’ve have never planned to run a game at a con, but it seems to happen whenever I go.

    And now you know the secret too. You don’t have to dread GMing at a con. You’re not on show and you’re not performing (well, maybe you are, but that’s for different reasons).

    If you’re GMing a con game, you’re GMing for people who are having fun and want to have more. All you have to do is sit back and let them have that fun. The simplest adventure will let them have that fun for two-three hours, and that’s enough. There’s other things they want to do at a con.

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