I’m less than twenty-four hours removed from the last day of Dreamation, and before I lose the majority of my day to a crowded inbox and a variety of social media platforms, I wanted to put down a length of thoughts about what I experienced this past weekend at Dreamation.
Up front, let me repeat what I’ve said for years: Double Exposure runs an amazing convention. This has far more to do with how orderly the chaos seems, how kind the people are, and how filled with opportunity every event can be rather than the fact that their three conventions (Dreamation, Dexcon, and Metatopia) are held within 15 minutes of my house. Even if they were held on Venus, I’d absolutely find my way there. Not just because my friends go there, or because Metatopia is THE convention to attend if you’re serious about creating games and stories, but because I can walk into a Double Exposure event and there’s a palpable energy of “We’re here to have a good time, we’re all in this together, and we believe in everyone’s ability to be positive and enjoy themselves.” It’s like bathing in an awesome spring for a few days. I come out of there physically tired and mentally alive.
If you’re a long-time follower of all I do, maybe you’ve noticed there’s been a substantial shift in my attitudes lately. This will get its own post later this week (I’ve already started writing it out in another window), but I want to point out an instance where this became very clear to me. If you track down any early interview I’ve given (especially those pre-sobriety), I was kind of a dick. I was arrogant, I was snotty, I was far more Malfoy than Potter. Those interviews, though I am grateful for the chances I had to record them, I cringe thinking about them now, and prefer to not listen or have them brought up. I’m not that guy anymore. I’m so thankful to not be that guy anymore.
I say all this because I got interviewed while at Dreamation, and I am 1000% serious when I say that you should not pass up a chance to talk to Meghan at the Modifier Podcast. She is insightful and kind while not letting you give pat answers of negligible effort. She encourages comfort and honesty without ever forcing you to do more than talk like you’re talking with an old friend. Game people, go talk to her, she’s really good at what she does, and I enjoyed the two hours she afforded me in her busy weekend to talk about all manner of things.
This interview wasn’t only a “hey please support my art” discussion, though we did talk about it. It was a conversation similar to the other more recent conversations I’ve had in interviews about the congruence and confluence of my passion and my belief that it’s okay to make stuff and be happy about making stuff. That’s a 180-degree turn from the entitled jerk who compared editing to plumbing and spent far too long worrying about his position on some editor hierarchy that only existed in his desperate insecure mind.
On the “what did I do” front, I showed off Noir World some more, and you’re going to hear/read me talking about it a lot in the coming days and weeks, because it’s going to go off and be crowd-funded and published. I won’t apologize for doing that, I can only give you fair notice that Noir World and film noir are going to be lenses through which we have some discussions in the future.
The Saturday evening session of Noir World made up for the unsettling feelings I carried throughout the previous sessions – they were okay, sure, but the game didn’t cohere and sparkle the way I like. Now I could easily attribute that to the number of people who attended the sessions (it’s disappointing when people sign up and then no-show) more than the specific people, I don’t think it was their fault, they did the best they could. Some of the blame also falls to me – I could have done a better job doing a bit of structuring and managing expectations that I in hindsight think could have given people a better chance at walking away from the table thinking my game is less gonzo and more “buffet of possibilities”. Again, this whole paragraph is enough to spawn a lengthy separate discussion.
At any convention, I always try and feel like I fail at striking a balance between being at the convention, and detaching from it to rest. I’ve got legitimate grounds to go put my feet up and reduce my stress levels (or nap), but at the same time, purposefully getting away from the convention climate means I’m getting away from my friends who I don’t see in-person very often and I’m getting away from the nebulous potential of “If I was there, would someone have offered me a possibly great moment/idea/opportunity/conversation/game/thing?” Being not a large fan of saying, “I’m sorry, this is all my heart’s fault, that’s why I had to go take a nap rather than talk to you, person who I enjoy the company of,” I tend now to make my withdrawals quiet, but it’s always with a pang of FOMO that I do it. Today in particular will be thick with the fear of missing out, based on people’s accounts of how their Dreamation was. I know I missed things, and I admit right now that I’m a bit frustrated about it, even if that nap I took made it possible for me to get through the day without collapsing.
In all a great weekend with many dear friends who I don’t think I spent enough time talking to, or showing off this thing I made in the “right” way that would lead people to be as enthused about its success as I am.
The world keeps turning, we keep going, and we’ll do it better next time, right? Onward.