Sunday, March 24, 2013

ReCONnaissance: CincyCon Recap

CincyCon is a three-day gaming convention held this year at the Atrium Hotel and Conference Center in the Tri-County Mall area. 2013 was the fourth year for the convention, which boasted numbers of over 500 in 2012. As my first Cincinnati convention, I was very excited to get my game on. Looking at the schedule, I did note that it seemed like cool things were happening at the same time, so I had to be judicious with my registration for events. The check-in process was smooth and the event ticket I had selected was ready for me.

When I walked into the vendor hall/dealer room, I was immediately overwhelmed with testosterone. I mean, really, it hit me like the stare of a beholder. In fact, that may have been more favorable. At the point that I walked in, you could count the number of women on one hand. The vendors were overwhelmingly male as well, with the exception of a jewelry maker, but she wasn’t actually at her table at that point. (More after the break.)

Friday night seemed pretty low-key and I didn’t stay long. I made a round about the dealer room and walked around the gaming hall, then took my leave. I had arrived at the convention too late for any of the Friday events anyway. Saturday, I played Munchin Zombies. Having played Munchkin games before, the game came easily and was quite fun. I learned rules from a female GM, which was very pleasant. There were more women in the gaming hall on Saturday as well as kids, which was really great. However, the number of women in attendance just didn’t’ seem high enough. Not being part of the Cincy gaming scene as of yet, I wonder why this is. It could be the emphasis on the historical and war gaming.

Later that day, I learned FantasyCraft, a d20 system from Crafty Games. It was good fun and liked the system. If I’d been playing with someone a bit more lively, I think I would have enjoyed it even more.
I didn’t stick around after I finished playing FantasyCraft. There didn’t seem like much an incentive to stay. There wasn’t really any open gaming going on and it didn’t seem possible to just jump in and play a game if you wanted because of the scheduling of the games.

I think that CincyCon has the potential to be a great convention and it’s obvious that it’s organized by people with a passion for gaming. However, a lower female presence really put me off. It just seemed like that it wasn’t a priority to have an equal number of all types of gamers. Most of the vendors didn’t seem to treat me very seriously when I was walking around looking. Was it because I am female?  I don’t know, but it was kind of unsettling.

I also was confused by the organization of the gaming room. I think that for the sake of clarity, games of a similar type could have been in one room together. The gaming hall was just one huge room and it got very loud and it was difficult to hear the other players during my game of Munchkin.  More choices in the games that you could play would have been really nice. From the schedule, it seemed like the same GMs were running the same type (or even the same module) every day of the convention. If it was an issue of not having enough GMs, then I’m not sure what to do about that, other than reach out to a lot of different people.

I think that the emphasis on the historical and war gaming aspect was most daunting. I like history and I like gaming, but I’m not sure that I want to commit myself to those miniatures games. Not every gamer is into that and furthermore, just jumping in can be a bit overwhelming, especially to new gamers. The dealer room seemed to focus on this, with vendors lining the outer wall. I think that the organization structure have been managed a bit better. As for the facility, the Atrium was okay. Not awesome, not a bad place, but it was okay. I think that it would be really nice could have been a bit closer to downtown.

I was very glad to have been given a pass to CincyCon and did enjoy myself when I was actually playing games. I hope that my thoughts can help the promoters. I do look forward to CincyCon 2014. I just hope that they can reach out to more female gamers next year. I would highly encourage gamers to check out this con in 2014. I hope it’s even better!

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