My return to ConCarolinas, a time to heal?
JustUs Productions was approached by ConCarolinas (aka That Con) to run their gaming once again. Of course, because I am a big part of the service that JustUs Productions provides, I have had to do some serious soul searching. This was not an easy decision. A lot of emotions are still associated with that part of my life. It was a big part for 11 years. It feels like an old girlfriend coming back to me and asking to be good friends and (if I was single) maybe friends with benefits.
For those that do not know, I was a founding member of the committee that started That Con as well Vice Chair or Chair for multiple years, the lead in the project to bring Deep South Con to Charlotte, and gaming coordinator for 11 years. My wife was guest services director and treasurer for many years. My kids were born into the convention world at this con. For a long time, it took up nearly 9 months of my life out of the year, and in those 3 months I squeezed in mini-mace, MACE and later MACE West as well. Our departure was not a good one.
I knew a few things going in …
- As a practicing Christian, my responsibility is first to my family as well as love and peace. Although my Earthly/human-side struggles with that, I need to abide by my faith. I am not always good at it, I admit, but when I struggle with things like this, my faith should have a very strong influence. In the past, I have said that my faith says to forgive and I have done the best to do that. However nothing in my faith says forget, and I won’t.
- I also feel a faith obligation to protect my family against what I see as evil or bad influences and I still see some of the people involved with CC as such. So in an effort to abide by that side of my faith, I will attempt to limit my family’s participation with said con until I deem that said bad influences are not present.
- Even though I was simply trying to act like they were dead to me, in doing that it was just another way of holding a grudge. Holding a grudge takes energy, negative energy. Life is too short to spend energy on negative things like that. It eats at your soul.
- Regardless of my decision, my relationship with those people, sci-fi fandom, and the gaming community will change. It can’t stay the same.
- Despite all my efforts to remain behind the scenes and minimize my role as “leader” in the Carolina gaming community, I do have a responsibility to heal this situation.
Aside from all of that, there is another side to this. And admittedly it is purely a mercantile side. I promised myself I would never do this on a voluntary basis. If I did this for anyone outside of JustUs, it would be at no cost to me and in most cases, there would be a fee to it. For my efforts and work, I am going to get paid for this. Not only for the time I spend but also the time I don’t spend with my family, the time I sacrifice for the con and its gaming. There is value to that and I am not going to volunteer that for this con.
I discussed it in depth with my wife. We both considered our family and the impact doing 5 events throughout the year in 2016 would have on me and our family. After doing this for nearly 15 years, I can safely say I have this down to a science (unlike some people who think they do.) The effort is not anywhere near what it used to be. As long as each event I work on is spaced out well enough that I can work on each individually, I am fine. ConGregate is a month and a half after CC. That’s more than enough time to start work on it. In fact, I probably can start work on it after CC’s gaming registration opens. It can work. My kids will enjoy returning to CC for whatever limited level we decide they will have, and the weight of this grudge will at least be in part lifted from my family.
I can not really speak to the affect this all has had on the community but I sense it has had some. Gaming has declined at CC for the past 3 years, despite their efforts to use another group. Fewer and fewer gamers have come back to CC and I know I have an uphill battle to get them to come back. But a healing has to take place, at least on the surface. I do realize that. I feel a responsibility now that they have reached out. I do not expect everyone to return in droves, but I hope that those who might return consider all that I have said and give it all another chance. You know what we can bring and we will continue to do so on the same levels as we have in the past.
But my reasoning is not all altruistic. This is a business decision, in the end. It is in the best interest of JustUs Productions as well as the gaming community at large for us to take this on. I would be doing this purely as representative or agent of JustUs Productions (Agent of JustUs League?). And for a fee and the general betterment of my family’s well-being. I am not going to lie about it or minimize that aspect of it. I did my time of volunteering for sci-fi and gaming fandom. I have other responsibilities now.
There are going to be challenges. We have written out every term and condition I can think of, but no contract can anticipate every situation. So there may still be stress or conflict. I don’t anticipate it though because gaming tends to be very low drama. I plan to keep it that way. But I have to shield myself, my family and JustUs from what I know is there because I spent 11 years there. I want nothing to do with anything other than gaming and minimize my interaction with those involved with non-gaming aspects of the con. You will see me at gaming registration, gaming rooms and tables, and nowhere else (unless my family drags me to one place or another).
It is not going to be easy, though. As we drew closer to the final agreement, I could feel a pit in my stomach grow. They came to me because gaming was not doing as well as they would like, for the money they were spending. They wanted more variety, which we can supply. But socially, this is going to be hard for me. My social anxiety (which reared its ugly head often in those 11 years) will be in full force. Right now, my gut is screaming “I really do not like dealing with fandom after what happened. Many fandom have proven to me that they are nothing but mindless sheep and I honestly want no part of it.” That might sound bitter and harsh and I am sorry if it does. This is what I am wrestling with and will have to get over by the time CC rolls around.
In the past 4 years, many have shown their true friendship and I thank you all for that. MACE has weathered the storm of this, done very well and now we are expanding to MACE East. I worried about that some but I hope my integrity spoke for itself enough that MACE and JustUs would weather it. I thank all those that respected us and me enough that we could. I am not proud of my part in all this and I ask forgiveness for that. I want to move on and ask those that were loyal to JustUs to help us do that. Sci-fi and gaming fandom does not need this rift or drama. Lets just have fun and game.