4 years of almost nothing should say something…
In the case of ConGregate, I am either a big failure or circumstances surrounding the convention are not conducive to a success gaming track. Three of those four years, I gave it everything I could give. It was like squeezing water out of a rock. GMs would not sign up, thus games were not on the schedule and thus the schedule was small. If the schedule is small, the players won’t turn out. I am not sure what else I could have done.
The first year was in downtown Winston-Salem, at a very nice location. This space was not ideal but it worked. But W-S is not exactly a thriving city, especially where gaming is concerned. I pulled in a few from Raleigh but not enough to make it significant. Of the four years, however, I think it was the most successful.
Moving to a familiar place the next year did not improve things. I had the same space as I used to get for StellarCon, but unfortunately, getting GMs was like pulling teeth. Although I finally got to a point where the schedule was at acceptable, the players did not turn out either. This was a peak of a long downhill decline for ConGregate gaming. The third year was the final straw on that camel’s back.
The third year was described to me as “painful” by a GM. It was downright boring. Even fewer GMs returned. I ran a report on each year and on average we had about 50 gamers each year, with a variation of 5 to 6. Meanwhile, fan attendance was pretty poor that third year. But gaming took the brunt of the blame for the loss of money that year. So it was decided that one of our rooms was no longer necessary.
Taking away space from gaming is something I can not abide by. You can do a lot but when you take away space from gaming when I already am struggling with utilizing the space to its best potential, you are telling me my efforts mean nothing to you. This was the primary reason I reduced my role at ConGregate in 2017.
I am sure my failure was a combination of things – timing of the convention, closeness to other events we were involved with (ConCarolinas, for instance), and the general lack of support for gaming by the rest of the committee. I used all I knew to use to get GMs but I get the feeling that since MACE moved from the area, our influence in that area has been reduced. For StellarCon, we had a strong college base for gaming and it was during March. This is during the summer and more gamers are on vacation, etc. I just know I could not get the gamers I used to for that location.
The con chair put a lot of faith in me and said some really nice things early on. I have the utmost respect for him. My lack of effort was simply in reaction to the reduction in space. I understand his reasoning behind it and I hope he understands my reasoning for doing what I did. I just don’t have the time to work on a convention that has no interest in letting gaming grow. I also don’t have enough time in my life to put so my effort into a con that does not seem to have any potential for gaming to grow.
This saddest part of it all is that I burned bridges I never intended to burn. I get the feeling people are mad at me for not putting enough effort into it or perhaps being too honest with some of my GMs. I truly hate convention politics. It burns me out more and more each year I experience it. But if people choose to take things out of context, I really can not do anything about it. If they ask, I will explain, but they only seem interested in their own version of the “truth.”
So, the best I could say is good luck ConGregate. I wish everyone the best.