About 6 months ago (or more?) I started hearing about another new con that was attempting to spring up here in the LA area: Girl Gamer Gathering.
Being the father of a 7 year old gamer, as well as someone who is a fan of inclusiveness, and wanting a more diverse hobby, I was drawn in. I knew that I would be bringing Nova for the full convention, so would be on "babysitting" duty pretty much the entire time. That's why I ended up volunteering to run at least my Fallout Shelter RPG... I knew she could play in it during that 4 hour slot. Other than that, we'd just be there for the ride, and scope out the scene.
Well, months later, it arrives. Unfortunately right after we return from a trip overseas, with the accompanying jet lag. And also unfortunately right at the end of a week where I was feeling like I had been either sick with a soar throat, or suffering from some severe hay fever. But onwards we go...
The con was held in Ontario (California, not Canada), which is about an hour East for us; although ended up about 1.5 hours on Friday afternoon.
Friday we just scoped out the scene. Nova wanted to hit the pool. First we hit the registration desk and got our badges. Then discovered the pool was frigid and the hot tub was out of order, but went in anyways.
The con had a Con Suite, which was open over 12 hours a day (anywhere from about 10 or 11am in the morning, until 11pm to midnight, depending on the day). The Con Suite was a standard room configured for use as a hangout area. It had both generic snack food like chips, hummus, sandwich making gear (PB&J mainly), veggies, and candy, as well as appliances such as toasters, coffee maker, and electric tea kettle. It was such a refreshing thing to have. Although you could get better food in other places outside the con, everything was provided for free, and the space was excellent for relaxing and meeting people. We visited it constantly and consistently throughout the con.
Everything was on one floor, which was terribly convenient. They had an open gaming room, which is where most folks would swing by to play board games. There was a little library of sorts, and many folks brought a variety of games to play.
We woke up before 8am to get breakfast. The hotel claimed that everyone, including kids, would have to pay the $13 all-you-could-eat buffet, or order off the menu, but when I went downstairs the nice staff let me feed Nova with my personal $13 buffet order. Nova and I played a little Towers of Conspiracy.
We were supposed to start around 9am, but being the first con, timings were a bit disorganized.
Caoimhe was the RPG coordinator, and she told me that folks would probably be waking up a bit late and a 10am start time was more reasonable. All good... we wandered around, and even got a new kid, Liz, to join us for the game. All up, it was Noah, Alana, Nova, and Liz.
From there Nova joined Alana's Short Order Heroes that she ran, in the same room. I was extremely impressed that this 10 year old managed the table the way she did, especially because it was laden with a kooky bunch of older teenagers that sometimes didn't let her or Nova get much of a word in edgewise. Kudos!
After lunch at the Con Suite, we spent various times going into Open Gaming.
Looney Labs were special guests that were in town, which is to say Andy and Kristen Looney. They're probably best known for Fluxx, and I've played with them and in some of their games at Strategicon. We ended up playing a bit of Loonacy, which is a great alternative to Spot It, including classic Loonacy, retro Loonacy, and even Ugly Doll Lunacy!
Looney Labs also showcased many of their pyramid-based games, partly due to the fact that they planned to kick off a Kickstarter on their Pyramid Arcade set in the next days (which, writing this now a few days later, they've already funded).
There was a room especially for console gaming, which looked interesting, but I have to admit Nova and I didn't spend any time in here the entire weekend.
A little later in the day, Noah ran a game of Short Order Heroes, which this time was attended by the slightly younger youth, including all of my prior players. It gave me some time to wander around and chat with Aaron Vanek and Kirsten who were running the LARP room. At one moment I came back in the room to hear all the kids cackling like crazy. It was awesome to see a little of the next generation of gamers.
Late night came about, and then it was games such as Werewolf. The circle is a lot smaller than the Strategicon circles of 30-50 or more... much more manageable here. It also allowed me to get out and about while Nova played with Alana and others.
And finally a little One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which I had brought a long. After that the older girls were talking about playing Cards Against Humanity, but made some joke about Apples to Apples. Nova and Alana heard it, and were very excited, and kudos again to the older girls for taking them under their wings, and playing a few rounds in the open gaming room.
Unfortunately Sunday started with Nova feeling a bit sick to her stomach, but after having a very light breakfast, she begged to stay longer. We ended up playing a game of Little Wizards with Alana and the GM (I forgot her name!) was pretty great for a kids table, although the kids ended up getting a bit distracted for this long-form game. I think Short Order Heroes was more up their alley.
A few more rounds of this or that in the open gaming room, and a round of goodbyes to all our new and old friends, and it was time to head out. Nova passed out in the car on the way home, and unfortunately ended up sick the next day, but we didn't regret this awesome adventure.
Very happy to hear that GGG was a success, and they plan to run it again next year... so until then!
Code of Conduct
Another thing that I think GGG does very well is their Code of Conduct. Their section "Privilege Awareness" is one of the best, most concise versions of that I've seen. I also love that they have an "Encouraged Behavior" section as a set of guidelines on how to participate given the code of conduct.
The whole environment was encouraging and calm and wonderful. I can't wait for the next one. There was some concern that the naming of the con might be seen as very youth focused, however most of the con felt like the standard adult fair, so I wouldn't judge it that way.
Can't wait to see how it grows and changes for next year, and hope to be a part of it.