Norwescon 2013: After Action Report

Another Easter as come and gone, and with it another iteration of Norwescon. Norwescon is the largest convention of its type in the Pacific Northwest.

Though I’d bought a four day membership a long time ago, I only ended up going for one day. It’s not exactly close. Were I to leave straight from work in downtown Seattle, I’d either need to drive to work that day (and give up my left arm for parking) or bus down (which would take an hour). Or I could go bus home to the other end of Seattle, then drive 25 miles down.

Staying at the hotel was not a viable option. It was the weekend after AmberCon US, so my ability to spend money (and vacation) for another hotel when I live “close” just isn’t viable.

If there’d been an evening full of compelling events on either Thursday or Friday night, I might have gone. But there were only one or two things that made me think, “Oh that could be fun.” It wasn’t worth the pain to go down.

So I only went Saturday. And that was fine. As far as I can tell, that’s really the sweet spot for panels.

I opened my Saturday with a collection of authors from Broad Universe, organized by Mae Empson. I’d gone there only knowing the works of the awesome and talented Folly Blaine and Cat Rambo, there were also readings by Camille Alexa, Carol Berg, S.A. Bolich, and Brenda Carre. Hopefully I missed no one. All were very awesome.

Also very exciting was getting to see Lee Moyer, who was the artist Guest of Honor. Normally I don’t pay attention to who the Guests of Honor are, as I’m not well-read enough to know all the authors and artists involved. So I was pretty stunned to see that I actually knew the artist this time. Lee has always done amazing work, and seeing him interviewed by Lillian Cohen-Moore was a real treat.

In previous years I have pretty rigorously followed the writing track, but this year I had a bunch of gaming panels I sat in on. There were great panels on women and minorities in the game industry, women in gaming communities, and a comparison of story games versus Dungeons & Dragons (and other “adventure” games). A lot of what I chose involved who was on it. So I sat in on a lot of panels featuring Erik Scott de Bie or Ryan Macklin. I also made a point to catch a panel with Mickey Schulz (specifically the one on women in gaming communities).

One panel got me to reconsider looking at the original Apocalypse World book, instead of its many hacks. I still don’t like the setting,  but there’s some excellent writing on gaming in there.

I also have heard a lot of good things, now, about Gamma Ray Games. Were it not in Capitol Hill, I might check it out. The place has an Ladies Night. It also hosts the Story Games Seattle Meetup. Both of which are designed to be welcoming environments for gaming curious people, especially women. Which is really pretty awesome.

Really there was just so much to see that it was hard to pick, and I missed a lot of stuff I wanted to see. But I did also need meals, or it would have been a much shorter day for me. And it would have ended in tears, maybe also blood.

I had come to the con thinking that I would bag out around dinner time. But then a friend invited me to the “pro party.” I have a general aversion to parties. I’m anti-social and my hearing isn’t great under the best of circumstances. In a crowded and noisy room I miss a lot of conversation. But I don’t see the friend often, and he’s a hero of mine, so I bit the bullet and went to the party.

I had to drive home, so I couldn’t get drunk. (And, really, the last thing I want to do at a pro party is get drunk and embarrass myself in front of The Pros.) I spent the party sitting. If I were to judge success of attending by the number of new people I met, then it was a failure. I sat in a chair and friends drifted towards me and hung out and chatted. More than one friend joked that I was holding court, which is laughable on a lot of levels.

I capped off the night going to Erik Scott de Bie’s reading (awesome!) and then drove home close to midnight.

I had considered going to the con on Sunday, but after spending 14 hours there I just couldn’t. My body was broken on Sunday. Every inch of me hurt. Which is depressing. For a few more weeks I can say, “I’m not old, I’m 37.”

All told, I had an awesome time. The volume of things to sit in and hear about was awesome, and I constantly ran into people I know that I felt comfortable around. Really the best fan convention I’ve been to this year.

4 thoughts on “Norwescon 2013: After Action Report

  1. Ryan Macklin

    I preface this comment with the following: I’m genuinely interested in the answer, not looking to tear you down or anything.

    It’s interesting that you say you don’t like Apocalypse World’s setting, because there really isn’t much of a setting there. “It’s 50 years after an apocalypse and there’s some weird psychic shit” more or less sums it up.

    What is it that you don’t like? I know various reasons why people don’t like the game or book (including my own issues with it), but I don’t hear it often about the setting. So please, say more?


    – Ryan

  2. Jeremy Zimmerman Post author

    I think the big part is: I’m just not interested in post-apocalyptic settings. I don’t mind seeing the occasional post-apocalyptic film or whatever, but I have a complete lack of interest in creating stories in such a setting. It’s a deep and visceral apathy. Maybe it’s the blank slate that kills it? When I think of “post-apocalyptic” without any other qualifiers, all I come up with are really bad movies from my younger years. And Mad Max. And that just doesn’t do anything for me. Before I picked up the book, just the description of it was a turn off. I didn’t sign up for any of the runs of it at Go Play because I just didn’t care about anything called “Apocalypse World”.

    From there I’m not sure if the book feeds my apathy or if my apathy just makes everything hard to read. After playing (and loving) Monster Hearts, I tried to give the book a look and started with the skins. And I just didn’t like them. These are the avatars of the world into which you are intended to enter, and I really didn’t like them. I don’t want to bash on them, because this is an entirely subjective opinion. Taste varies significantly. But suffice to say that when I read the descriptions of the skins, I groaned a few times.

    From there I just had no interest in it. The meat of the book is wonderful, as I’m finding now. His embellishments to feed the feel of the game are a turn off, but reading it strictly as game rules it’s very nice.

  3. Jeremy Zimmerman Post author

    After thinking about it, I realized ultimately what I dislike is the genre. There have been examples of the genre that I’ve enjoyed, but the thought of telling stories in the genre is not appealing to me. So I guess really the vestige of a setting did nothing to redeem the genre for me.

  4. Brenda Carre

    Thank you so much for being a part of our BroadUniverse Rapid Fire Reading. It is always a delight to be a part of these readings, both as a participant and as a reader. It is always a igh point of any con I attend. So glad you enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.