The Sundering and Scooten Frudy, GENCON INDY 2013, Day 2

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The Sundering and Scooten Frudy, Day 2. ![]( "") As Thursday in the Exhibit Hall came to a close, I prepared for the evening event I had weaseled my way into: the D&D Press Release Ball (an RSVPed event). Little did they know that most of the conference would relate to things Gamebanana had little audience for. But that didn’t stop my photographer and I from dining on a free ticket. Out of the crowded masses we swam, and into a whole new barrel of pickles. The Indiana Ballroom hung high over a downtown theatre building. My photographer had dressed for the occasion in suit and tie (another prime example of his impeccable social craft and his appetite for blending into the people we were trying to cover). I meanwhile slung on my coat Scooten Frudy (in which I will explain later) and hoped the Overground press believed in salvation. Up the elevator we rose, surrounded by thousand dollar cameras, microphones, and veterans of the “legitimate press”. Now not only was I covering an event that didn’t really relate to PC gaming, but I had infiltrated some Ivy League club of media saints and we were all ascending to Judgment by the largest franchise in gaming history. My photographer tapped his cellphone sized Polaroid in his chest pocket and smiled. Good, I thought. Play it cool. Wait until we get our special Gamebanana press nametags and mingle with the high-rollers when they have taken advantage of the open bar. Then I could relax and try to figure out what I was doing going to a Gala event as a first timer. The elevator doors opened and the stakes rose. The entire ballroom had been converted to resemble an old fashioned fantasy town. “TAVERN”. The sign hit me and I became curious of the special “White Dragon” named wine. I tasted the amount of energy and money Wizards had paid to have me write good things about their games. ![]( "") I kept asking myself every five minutes how surreal this Gatsbian wonderland was in the middle of a gaming convention. 30 foot statues of classic D&D figures encompassed a dining floor in front of a small stage. Drawn out violins and wardrums continued across the candlelit press folk, some poking their cameras into every nook like a gamer looking for secrets; others stuck to the shadows nursing their free drinks waiting for the inevitable showcase of facts to go down. My photographer again laughed and motioned to the front row. An hour ago we were taking photos of wizards wearing bathrobes in “Normal Gencon”. Now we were deep within the game development and press crowd. Mike Mearls, Wizards of the Coast’s R&D head, began by acknowledging how intimate the conference was this year. He described his plan to expand the D&D Franchise onto many new battlefronts: mobile (Arena of War), Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (PC), D&D Online The Shadowfell Conspiracy, Lords of the Waterdeep (iPad), and KRE-O D&D. A bunch of release dates for the PC World announced (which were probably well known at this point): D&D Online Expansion – August 19th, and Neverwinter Online Expansion – August 22nd. ![]( "") After the information onslaught ended, dinner followed, along with a chance to try both Neverwinter and D&D Online up close and personal. I couldn’t figure out what made these titles so important besides their franchises, which at this point is the only reason I would be interested in a MMO anyway. D&D Online shook things up a little with having random encounters in between the main dungeons, such as a satyr holding you hostage as they force you to dance, or a pack of poachers hunting wolves. People showed up. We left. We were exhausted. We had spent 3 hours disguised as legitimate press folk, and with expensive wine in our stomachs, we dove back into the layman’s GenCon. My photographer suggested we stopped by Moustache Games for an event dubbed “The Naming Ceremony.” We showed up at a table run by three men in their late 20s smiling and disregarding the $2 entry fee stated in our booklet. We sat as a council around a whiteboard taking turns suggesting names for various objects each person had brought to the table. We moved from a woman’s stuffed bunny rabbit (dubbed ‘Rabiscuit’), onto another woman’s puppet gryphon, and finally my jacket (eventually named ‘Scooten Frudy’). ![]( "") What was most interesting about this strange game was how communal it felt. The three exhibitors had tapped into a social energy, and were riding out their highs while giving happiness and names to all. No one was left out; random people walking by could throw out a suggestion and leave when their time had passed. Suddenly it all hit me. These were the people I had been searching for all this time. GenConers that could turn the simplest game into a community building experience. It was perfect, and I walked away for the night with my new companion Scoot.


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