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This week should have been my annual trip to Ft. Wayne, IN for Winter Fantasy. We climb into a van in Sterling, Virginia, and drive to the Arctic Circle, gaming along the way. We call it Winter Vantasy: The Best 8 Hours in Gaming. It’s essentially the only time I game all year, and virtually the only time I drink. On any given night, I have as many drinks as I drink the rest of the year. The drinking is why I go. I get to see all my friends and hang out with them at O’Reilly’s. So, my primary concern was that I could put together some Zoom rooms and hang out with friends.
This year is obviously different. Like every other industry, Winter Fantasy has shifted to online only due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, I’ve never liked online gaming, even before I stopped playing altogether, so I had little faith that aspect of the con it would work out for me.
Surprisingly, the gaming has been better than I expected, so I’ve enjoyed it. At the last minute, I joined a table with Erik, who I always want to play with at least once. For my second game, my friends Mike (@slyflourish) and Michelle (@rosamoonshadow) coincidentally were on the same table with me. I was in Mike’s home game for years, so it was good to play with those two again. I had no games on Friday, but I’m optimistic that my two Saturday games will go well, and my Sunday game, the Eberron epic, will almost certainly be fun. The epics are always great, though I’m uncertain how much of the feel of an epic will be lost because it’s online.
Of course, none of that matters. If all the games suck, I won’t care if I get to see my friends and down some Glenfiddich. And I’ve done that. Each night we’ve had a great time handing out. I’m fortunate to be an actual friend of high-profile people in the industry and community at large, and we’ve had a blast, but that exposes a weakness of the online experience.
The flip side to having this opportunity is that these rooms have limits. Zoom allows up to 100 attendees, but that’s impractical for anything other than a lecture. There are tons of people that I want to see, and they basically don’t fit. Moreover, because some of the attendees are high-profile, everyone wants to jump into our room. (If only they knew how heavy the conversations can get.) I keep inviting more people, but there’s no attrition. Everyone’s having such a good time that they keep coming back every damn night. Worst. First World. Problems. Ever.
There are going to be a lot of disappointed people this week, but there’s a flip side to this flip side. This doesn’t have to end this week. Many of us are trapped at home anyway. So if you’re interested in a Zoom meeting in the future, hit me up. We’ll schedule something. I’ll even drink. I bought a 1.75 liter bottle of scotch, and there’s no way I’m going to finish that this week. In fact, I want a commitment to meet up via Zoom at least once a month. That’s not hard, is it? If we meet every week, that’s fine, but I’m not asking for that as a commitment. I want us to commit to once a month. Easy peasy.
Admit it. You’ve got nothing better to do.
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