Honestly, only the ends of the spectrum are important:
Strong agreement with the earlier suggestion to tag, rather than categorize, events.
The suggestion of official as well as crowdsourced tags is especially good.
I currently don't botherto look for events, even thought I could theoretically use some of my limited Gen Con time to actually have fun, because I'm not even sure where I'd start with the listings. The only thing that might ever get me to a scheduled event is a strong recommendation of some particular event seen on social media, or a personal recommendation from someone I ran into at the event.
Yes. And it shouldn't be a problem. As a GM, do you really want to tell someone they can't play because they didn't have a pen or pencil on themselves when they happened to walk by and see something cool?
It is in everyone's best interest if the host of an event has all basic supplies available. Dice, paper, pencils, etc. at an absolutel minimum, and ideally the basic rules for reference.
I only really recommend not providing materials if a central part of the game is really building something of your own and bringing it to the table (e.g. a deck in Magic, an army in Warhammer, a character in some RPG formats). And even then, if it's feasible to find a work-around, do it.
The more the event host expect players to bring to the event, the more likely something will go wrong and someone won't be able to play, whether that's somoene who signed up and didn't read or a walk-up player who just found out and never had a chance to prepare anyway.
Gen Con LLC
All Materials Provided means All Materials Provided.
I've done better at this some years than others, but that's more of a "I need to remember to restock my Paranoia box (in four months when I might use it again)" sort of thing. :(
Could I throw in something for the data filterer in me? Don't create *new* categories for things like BGM. Just suffix to categorize.
BGMH - Historical boardgames
BGMF - Fantasy boardgames
BGMS - Science fication boardgames
Then I can maintain my root filter of BGM* to find all the boardgames, but I can break down what I'm interested in a little further.
I only picked those categories as examples since there appears to be some precedent for that with Non-Historical Miniatures, etc.
The Isle of Misfit Events - ZED:
This is explicitly a catch-all for events that don't fit anywhere else, but are there any events here that would do better with their own event type? Some notable things that live here currently include:
Playtest hall events
Are You A Werewolf?
basically any "we're gonna play some games, but not one specific title, or we don't know which specific games yet"
Should any of those have their own event type? Social/Deducation games in particular - what if there was a category for the Werewolf family of games? It could include party games as well, to encompass Cards Against Humanity, Telestrations, FUNemployment, and similar titles.
Personally, I think the party & social deduction games (CAH, Telestrations, Are You A Werewolf, Two Rooms and a BOOM, Witch Hunt, L90: The Origin, Coup, Resistance, etc...) should be in their own category.
Or get all clever and use LIE? :) Shame TRTR is 4 letters.
As someone who has recruited a lot of folks to come and try gen con, I _heartily_ want a separate category for the 'living' campaigns. Please. It is next to impossible to explain to someone why they can't just plop down into an RPG game of tenth level without a character and log sheet, and just as difficult explaining to the Shadowrun player with a home-generated 650 karma monster that that character isn't legal.
I do tend to steer both interested parties into the intro adventures for those, but it'd still be nice to quickly filter them out when looking for a game to play with friends without the commitment of a living campaign...and since I like living campaigns, another way to see about trying a different one.
Also if the KID goes away, how would that affect armbands and such?
A few thoughts from the perspective of someone who has never been but looked at last year's program guide to get a sense of what she'd getting into and choked at how complicated RPG was....
I sort of agree about the Spousal thing... I mean, I'm a gamer, but there are some really neat looking things in SPA. Just because I want to do something besides game every waking hour of four days shouldn't invalidate my experience. (I suppose calling it AN4 for "And now for" as in 'And now for something completely different would both be too obscure and probably cause copyright issues.) Not sure what you'd call it, but perhaps XTRA as in Extracurricular Activities might work.
The role playing games thing is a giant ball of confuddlement. I have both PFS and RPGA numbers, and I agree that santioned events (in any system) need to be separate from non sanctioned events to prevent n00b confusion (RPGA, PFS etc.). Not every sanctioned module is plug and play; they often have prerequisites or may be part of a larger story where the n00b would be lost. It might also be possible to break it down forther into D20 things, D6 things and Other Systems (RD20, RD6, ROTH). That way when I'm looking for FATE stuff, I don't have to wade through 5 editions of D&D. Breaking it down by mechanism migh be easier than breaking it down by style?
Maybe go with 2 levels of event type codes (primary and secondary, separated by a dash? Event number would then be something like PRI-SEC 3383838.
Some example pairs of codes:
I do avoid events marked tournament, for two reasons: First, I tend to register for games that I haven't played before at Gencon because there's such a great variety of new (to me) things to try, and I wouldn't expect anyone playing a tournament to take the time to teach a noob. Those folks are there looking for a competitive game against someone who understands the rules. Secondly, being in a tournament means that I would have to schedule around every session of the tournament even though I might be eliminated early, or double-book and be a no-show for another event if I do advance in the tournament.
I too avoid tournaments, because of not being so comfortable with the rules and not wanting to intrude on 'serious' gamers. As such, I had a lot of fun with more casual events last year. Althoguh to be fair, I wandered into NASCRAG and ended up in thr tournament there too, but I think they're a special case. ;) I suspect that people who enjoy the intense, high-quality play of tournaments would be specifically looking for them.
I am surprised that there are so few tournament games, as an overall percentage of the offerings. Given this, you may be right, Derek, that it wouldn't be much of a help.
I will gladly revoke my stare if they say something like "Man, I have never played an RPG in my life, but this one said beginners welcome and I thought the description sounded cool". But the guy who has to borrow a pencil and dice from me and then precedes to tell me about his other RPG characters may get a follow-up stare.
The person who borrows a pencil and dice and says "I've never played an RPG before but it sounded cool" will also get the follow-up stare if they have purchased a ticket for my "Advanced Players - Rules Not Taught" game.
I feel like Han Solo staring at a touch-screen starship console. I'm a bit too old school it seems.
I fully support RPGA becoming a "Living Campaign" or "Organized Play" category, though we would then want to make sure that attendees can easily discern the particular program.
Shadowrun example. You have:
- "Fans" who are running Shadowrun stuff
- Official Catalyst events that are not "organized play", including one-shots, demos, special events
- The Shadwrun Missions scenarios, sometimes crossing more than one season (New York vs Chicago, perhaps with situations where characters are not compatible of playing Chicago means you can never go back and play NY!)
- Special Shadowrun Missions events, including their special convention exclusives you can't get elsewhere.
- Fans running D&D
- Official WotC events that are one-shots, not Adventurers League, but run by the same people as the organized play, such as the Candlekeep event, Opens, one-shot convention specials, etc.
- Official WotC Adventurers League content for the current season
- Official WotC AL content by Baldman Games for the Moonsea
- D&D Baldman Games seminars as part of their Heralds Guild program (obviously it is under seminars, but D&D players want to find it)
The challenge is for a player to be able to find what they want and recognize what they see for what it is. In previous years it has been darn hard for my group to find the right Shadowrun events, because there are no "tags" for Missions and the naming can be really confusing if you aren't familiar with the program. A fan of organized play often wants to know whether they can bring their normal character and receive credit, as well as the type of experience. The current system isn't really great for that, regardless of the top-level category.
I do worry that if you combine even just PFS and D&D events into an organized play category, it could become really useless. Worse if you add all the other organized play programs (Shadowrun, L5R, 13th Age, etc., etc.) You would really need ways to keep it all logically separated. It could end up that the category just isn't really adding any extra benefit to anyone, if it's all just another huge holding bin for RPG events, and now someone who wants Shadowrun has to check two areas? (Because, now you have all of SR in one RPG category, but if you move the living parts out, someone who is happy to play either living or non has to look in two places). Complex stuff.
Why not just very clearly label living campaign games within the category? A designator right after the title of the event, at the start of the description.
I'm afraid of going too lowest common denominator here. Should we cater to the people who can't be bothered to read a description of the game? (Not saying that's everyone who's wound up in the wrong sort of game--just saying that IF it was made clear in the description, the objection that some people won't read that description doesn't bother me much.)
There are lowest common denominator questions on both side of the equation, but the fundamental question here is "Are the current event type categories the best way to divide up events? Do some of the categories end up just too big to be really useful or meaningful?" and if the answer to the latter is "yes," you have to come up with some way to carve things up.
Further, since part of the point of the event types is communication, "catering" to just about everyone we can is probably a good idea, yeah :) We want to make things as simple, clear, and useful as we can.
It's not about people not bothering to read the description. It's that:
- A large audience seeks out organized play (it's a significant portion of all RPG play). They often come to Gen Con just for organized play.
- New or casual players want organized but don't know the terms. What's a CMP vs a Shadowrun Missions? Descriptions are often not clear.
- Some may actually want to avoid organized play. They want to be with similar one-shot players, for example. They want to know they are getting a non-OP experience.
I played Shadowrun Missions for two years, skipped a couple, and couldn't figure out which Catalyst events where organized play or not. It wasn't for lack of reading or effort. It was just not an easy thing to figure out from the description, even after looking up terms on the Catalyst site. And that's far beyond what I would expect most players to do.