My 2014 Gen Con Schedule (Updated)

My panel and seminar times have had a few changes since I originally posted my schedule, so here’s an updated schedule on where to find my panels at Gen Con!

Gaming as Mythic Exploration
How does the act of creating, exploring, and defining a game world resemble the creation and exploration of myth, both as ritual and as scripture or literature?
Thursday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ICC 211
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Kenneth Hite, Greg Stafford

Freelancing and Mental Health
No matter your diagnosis or where you are in dealing with your mental health, knowing you’re not alone can make a difference. Come hear peers discuss how they get through the hard times.
Friday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ICC 210.

Editing: When, Why, and How
Editing benefits a game from start to finish. We’ll talk about when to get an editor, why, and how to become one.
Friday, 3:00-4:00 p.m. ICC 211
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Andrew Hackard

The Devil Walks in Salem – From Fiasco Game to Film
Join the story gaming revolution! Learn about the unique adaptation of an actual Fiasco gaming session into a narrative film. Join Jason Morningstar (from Bully Pulpit Games), Lillian Cohen-Moore (co-creator of Fiasco’s Salem playset), Peter Adkison and documentary filmmaker Elke Hautala for a short panel discussion on how this story was brought to life on film. Then, enjoy two screenings! First the short documentary on the process itself followed by the actual film, The Devil Walks in Salem. Witness the power of storytelling firsthand!
Minimum Age:     Teen (13+)
Friday, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. Westin: Capitol I

Women in the Game Industry
A panel designed toward women who want to get involved in the game industry and what obstacles there are to face, how the industry is changing, and other business tips.
Saturday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ICC 210.
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Nicole Lindroos, Jennifer Shahade, Elisa Teague

You Were Made for Loneliness

A few months ago, Javy Gwaltney tweeted that he was looking for some sci-fi writers. Answering that tweet was how I became involved with You Were Made for Loneliness. YWMFL is a Twine game that takes place after  the remnants of humanity have left Earth, and colonized the stars. Twenty years after The Fall, an android is purchased in a pawn shop on Callisto. Inside her are joyous and heart breaking memories of love, slowly coming back to life.

I’m delighted that I was able to contribute to this game alongside Rollin Bishop, Cameron Cook, Bryant Francis, Sidney Fussell, Richard Goodness, Javy Gwaltney, Jon Hamlin, Kitty Horrorshow, Patrick Lindsey, Tony Perriello, Olivia Frank, Marc Price, Elizabeth Siminins, Zoya Street, Kaitlin Tremblay, Stephen Wilds, and Nina White (writing as Ashton Raze).

So, go play the game, throw a little something in the tip jar, and discover memory upon memory of a love story set long after we’re all dust.

Sartorial Choices

I was at a book reading last Friday, and was asked afterward about where I get the many odd/quirky/profane shirts I’m usually sporting at events. For that questioner, and the many who have asked before them, a sampling of those purveyors of fine t-shirts.

 

Sigh Co. Graphics

I ran into their website years ago, but have only been buying their shirts at conventions because I am weak about my wallet in a Dealer’s Hall. They’re nice, helpful, and really pleasant to buy from. I’ve bought one of their fictional drink shirts, and every Lovecraft related shirt I have is from them. Except for one.

The Lovecraft

A real place of business in Portland, Oregon, The Lovecraft is a H.P. Lovecraft themed bar.  I own one of their older tank tops, and love it dearly.

ThinkGeek

Pretty sure they don’t carry the Sunnydale High School or Team Van Helsing shirts I’ve been seen sporting at 8 a.m. panels, but not a bad place to go looking for shirts.

Threadless

Any Little Red Riding Hood shirt you’ve ever seen me in comes from here. Unless it was a BigBadCon shirt for BBC 2012, in which case, my LRRH was lost in my last move, never to be seen again, now a forlorn memory, like so much mist on the dimly remembered fashion winds.

The Shirt. The Feminist Shirt. You know.

To get your own FUCK YOUR PATRIARCHAL BULLSHIT shirt, click the above link.

 

I’m known to sometimes snag the odd shirt off CafePress or Etsy, and will now plug  the design savvy of Daniel Solis in shirt form. Go there to check out his shirts. I’d also recommend taking a look at the shirts over in the CafePress store of my childhood hero, Warren Ellis.

Business+Social Media

I don’t think there’s a week that goes by without me seeing a peer post a reminder not to use their Facebook or Twitter for work-related messages. So it’s worth going over some of the reasons using social media for work isn’t a good idea.

 

 

Respect and Privacy

Maybe you’re fine with doing all of your business on social media, but the person you’re asking to work for (or with) isn’t. Doing business with another person isn’t just about your preferred style of doing so. Respect that other person and the way they conduct business. In addition to that, asking someone if they have time for work in a public way can hurt them professionally. If they say yes to you, but politely turned someone else down the same day by pleading schedule issues, that can be turned into ugly remarks about them. Alternatively, they just might not want to work with you, and if they tell you they’re unavailable, that hurts their ability to take other clients.

Logistics+Respect

Tweets can get lost, Facebook messages can go unseen, the medium you’re communicating through demands instant response, or else the thread is lost. If you ask someone “Hey, are you available for some work this week?” via social media, the person you’re asking has to drop what they’re doing to deal with you. Forcing someone to deal with you on your time isn’t respectful, nor is it professional. Even if they’re receptive to this kind of communication, if they don’t see that message, DM or tweet, you’ve sabotaged yourself by using an imperfect medium to get someone’s attention.

Space+Documentation

Twitter has a very restrictive character limit. Unless you’re linking to a job posting, you’re going to have to leave a number of details about a job from your tweet. While Facebook doesn’t have the space issues of Twitter, it still has the problem of being ephemeral. If you use email you can go into as much detail as needed, and that conversation is put into the most searchable form someone has on hand: their email archives. A thread of saved emails helps you keep track of details and contracts, which is much harder to do via Facebook and Twitter. Discussing contract details via DM isn’t just unprofessional, it’s irresponsible to you and the person you’re doing business with.

Personal Accounts

Most of the freelancers I know have a mix of personal and work related content on their Twitter. But many, myself included, use Facebook (or G+) as a friends and family social media feed. If you approach someone about work on a personal social media feed, you may alienate or even anger that person. For me, I find friending me on FB makes me scowl if it’s a stranger approaching me about work. I have a contact page on my website for a reason, and my FB is for close peers, people I enjoyed working with, my cherished friends, and family. This is an emotional context that layers over the above issues of trying to use social media for work.

 

Before anyone gets up in arms, I love and appreciate when people use Twitter to find new artists, pinch hitter writers, or other kinds of all-calls because they usually direct people to an email or website. Most of my fellow journalists use social media to find sources when appropriate, but we take those exchanges off Twitter and into email as soon as possible, because social media is a terrible medium to continue those conversations with.

 

Lillian’s Industry Insider Schedule

I have missed you so much, beloved blog. But in the silent dormancy I filled with three separate surgeries on my jaw, I also applied toand was acceptedas an Industry Insider at Gen Con this year. I get to be on panels with some fantastic humans, and hope I’ll catch you at some of them! With luck, I’ll be getting in some time playing a few games at Games on Demand as well.

 

Gaming as Mythic Exploration
How does the act of creating, exploring, and defining a game world resemble the creation and exploration of myth, both as ritual and as scripture or literature?
Thursday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ICC 211
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Kenneth Hite, Greg Stafford

The Image of a Female Gamer/Gamesplayer
How do we bring women into male-dominated worlds of gaming? This talk can explore the fine line between feminizing and sexualizing female archetypes and which is more likely to draw girls in.
Thursday, 5:00-6:00 p.m. ICC 211
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Jennifer Shahade, Elisa Teague

Editing: When, Why, and How
Editing benefits a game from start to finish. We’ll talk about when to get an editor, why, and how to become one.
Friday, 3:00-4:00 p.m. ICC 211
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Andrew Hackard

The Devil Walks in Salem – From Fiasco Game to Film
Join the story gaming revolution! Learn about the unique adaptation of an actual Fiasco gaming session into a narrative film. Join Jason Morningstar (from Bully Pulpit Games), Lillian Cohen-Moore (co-creator of Fiasco’s Salem playset), Peter Adkison and documentary filmmaker Elke Hautala for a short panel discussion on how this story was brought to life on film. Then, enjoy two screenings! First the short documentary on the process itself followed by the actual film, The Devil Walks in Salem. Witness the power of storytelling firsthand!
Minimum Age:     Teen (13+)
Friday, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. Westin: Capitol I

Women in the Game Industry
A panel designed toward women who want to get involved in the game industry and what obstacles there are to face, how the industry is changing, and other business tips.
Saturday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ICC 210.
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Nicole Lindroos, Jennifer Shahade, Elisa Teague

Freelancing and Mental Health
No matter your diagnosis or where you are in dealing with your mental health, knowing you’re not alone can make a difference. Come hear peers discuss how they get through the hard times.
Saturday, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ICC 210.
Lillian Cohen-Moore

Upcoming Appearences

Norwescon 37 is nearly upon us in beautiful Seattle, which means it’s time to share my schedule. You can find me at the con April 17–20th!

Faith in Speculative Fiction
Fri 2:00pm-3:00pm Cascade 10
Faith is an area that is often overlooked in world-building and character motivation for speculative fiction in spite of the impact that it has had and continues to have (for good and bad) in our world. How does faith affect the setting and formation of a fictional world? How has faith been used well (or badly) in our genres?
Lillian Cohen-Moore (M), Stina Leicht, Ken Scholes, Dean Wells, G. Willow Wilson

Tech at the Gaming Table
Sat 2:00pm-3:00pm Cascade 12
Do you involve technology into your tabletop game nights? What works and what is just a big distraction? This will cover tools to involve people further into your stories, and how to avoid the pitfalls of modern day attention getters driving distraction from the game. We will also talk about how to use Skype and other video conferencing to involve players from far away.
Lillian Cohen-Moore (M), Eric Cagle, Bruce R Cordell, Amber Eagar, Dylan S.

Invisible Disabilities
Sat 10:00am-11:00am Cascade 3&4
Not every disability is apparent at a glance, nor is anyone’s personal health anyone else’s business. From mental illness to chronic disease to a variety of syndromes and impairments too lengthy to list, we’ll discuss the difficulties of living with chronic health conditions, the stigmas associated, what progress has (or hasn’t) been made in reforming public perception, and strategies on getting other people to mind their own blasted business.
Maida ‘Mac’ Combs (M), Lillian Cohen-Moore, Sar Surmick, Lilith von Fraumench

Women in Games
Sat 4:00pm-5:00pm Cascade 7&8
Our annual discussion of women in both the games industry and gaming as a hobby.
Julie Haehn (M), Lillian Cohen-Moore, Angel Leigh McCoy, Lola Watson, Gwen Yeh

Seanan McGuire Q&A
Sat 5:00pm-6:00pm Evergreen 3&4
A Q&A session with Norwescon 37 Special Guest of Honor Seanan McGuire.
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Seanan McGuire

 

In other upcoming con-related news, I’ll be Indianapolis this August 14-17, for Gen Con, as an Industry Insider Guest of Honor. This year’s slate of Insiders is amazing, and I’m so happy to get to be a part of it.

Storiums, All The Way Down

If I think back, I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of Storium was a passing tweet in Will Hindmarch’s timeline. The word caught my eye. It got a mental post-it note stuck to it, and I kept my eye out. When Storium first went into playtesting, I didn’t have time to check it out. I wouldn’t actually have a playtesting account till last November, and I wouldn’t actually start playing or narrating games till February.

Why play Storium, when I’ve already done play by post for years? When I already have years of live-action roleplaying and tabletop experience?

Because it clicked for me.

Storium is about a story, one you’re telling as a group with friends. When I attempt something but don’t succeed in perfect, boring colours, my friends bite their nails while finding out what happens next. In so many games I’ve played in my life, failure was a dead-end. Storium has novel DNA in it, and dead-ends can be opportunities, either for growth, or unexpected developments.

Play-by-post games, in my case, are usually a recipe for burn out. My PbP experiences have largely been mirrors of the more unpleasant experiences I’ve had with toxic tabletop groups. That Storium wasn’t a message board was a huge sell for me. I don’t have to roll dice, have someone roll dice for me, or use some retrofitted-to-online math to find out what happens at the end of a swordfight, a rockfall, translating the ancient book. The system for creating and resolving challenging situations is baked into the site, and everyone gets to see the plays other people make. We’re all using the same tools, tools specifically designed for this purpose. I’ve been gaming for over 20 years, and the challenge/resolve system Storium uses is one of the more fascinating ones I’ve ever seen. And I mean that. I mean that with sincerity, to the point that you can find me saying it on their Kickstarter page.

I started narrating my first Storium game on February 24th, 2014. “But we’ll only shoot for a scene a week,” we said, “because we’re all very busy people.” Honestly, I expected us to lag behind that. We’ve played 15 scenes since the game started.

We’ve only been playing for seven weeks. The chain is as of yet unbroken.

Storium has made people new friends, and put them in touch with old ones. It is a genus loci of a place that doesn’t physically exist in one place. Because Storium exists in many places. And all the Storiums inside, nesting, murmur to each other constantly. People are trading chat names and emails and playlists. The people telling stories are doodling and texting and laughing about what just happened, what might happen next. They’re telling people about the life explosions that kept them from playing that week. Giving each other ideas. Stretching their creative muscles. Telling and playing stories with others, even when they’re afraid they won’t seem as great, shine as much. Storium doesn’t make people more creative: it simply reminds or aids discovery of worlds already inside you.

You get what you put into a game. Storium has a great frame, but it’s a house that’s still asleep, unless players get inside. Then, it’s inhabited.

And once it’s inhabited, it’s alive.

If you want to support Storium adding new worlds, and paying amazing writers to mold them, you can find their Kickstarter page here.

 

Reference Books

Few things will tell you about someone’s work like the reference books they keep close at hand. When I shared my own reference stack on Twitter, I asked for people to send me pictures or lists of their own handy volumes.

AdamusJohn Adamus

Writer/Editor

My primary reference books are, in order of size:

Oxford English Dictionary, Hardcover
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition, that I’ve had and taken all over the country and world
Writer’s Digest Character Naming sourcebook, 2nd edition
The current Chicago Manual of Style
Turabian, 5th edition, that I’ve heavily written in and marked up and mangled, because it was the first book that turned words into art for me.
Not as reference “look up words” books, but reference-as-encouragement books, I keep:
Rex Stout: A Majesty’s Life (McAleer)
Nero Wolfe of 35th Street (Baring-Gould)

The Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Baring-Gould)

Hammett: A Life At The Edge (Nolan)
The Life of Raymond Chandler (Tom Williams)
because all of those books reminded me that you can write whatever you want, however you want, and be really damn good at something, because you love it the way you love air.
To find John on the web, visit his blog, or find him on Twitter as @awesome_john

 

 

Shannon P. Drake

PR Account Coordinator/Dubious Freelance Writer

Reference Books I Keep Close By:
1. Damnation City by Will Hindmarch et. al.
While this is a book intended for Vampire The Requiem, I’ve never read such a comprehensive guide to creating a fictional city. Since a lot of my work tends to focus on urban areas and be of a darker nature, this is something I consult at least weekly.
2. AP Stylebook
All praise to the Mother Text, without which we would be lost. My agency uses a loose AP style in our releases, so this is obviously the go-to manual.
Okay it’s not technically a book, but if you want a good jumping-off point for a scary story, look at all the weird ways people vanish and die.
4. Fleet to Fleet Encounters by Eric Grove
I think this has since been republished, but is a useful reference for how major fleets encounter each other and wind up fighting. Useful if you’re working on something in that vein, which I naturally am.
5. Over Nine Waves by Marie Heaney
Yet another thing for A Project I am working on.

Shannon can be found tweeting as @PappyShannon

 

 

 

D Dawson
Delilah S. Dawson
Author
What reference books do you keep close by? Thesaurus.com and Wikipedia. And my 1971 New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary!
Why do you need those books for reference? I found this massive tome in my grandfather’s library when I was 8, and since then, I’ve been dragging it with me everywhere, from college to pregnancy to the studio where I paint and write. In addition to a regular dictionary, it also includes a thesaurus, a Secretary’s Guide, star charts, a 1971-style history of the US, lists of boy and girl names and meanings (which I used to name my kids and characters), famous quotations, and so much more. The last president listed is, of course, Richard Millhouse Nixon. Now my second grade daughter uses it to look up new words when she’s reading The Hobbit.
You can find Delilah on Twitter @DelilahSDawson, or through her website, www.whimsydark.com

 

Caroline Willis

Writer, Computer Science student
Caroline full shelf
 I always have the stack of textbooks for my current semester; besides them I have a small bookshelf in my office. The upper left corner contains my textbooks from previous semesters. The bottom left corner and the overflow are references for Larp Couture; the whole right side are my general writing references.
caroline rogetOne of my favorites is the 1946 printing of Roget’s Thesaurus, and I can honestly not imagine using a modern version. Instead of being organized alphabetically, it’s organized by topic. For example, topic 349 is Wind. It has 31 subtopics, first the synonyms of related nouns, then verbs, then adjectives and last, adverbs. And it has quotes associated with each topic: “He that will use all winds, must shift his sail.” – J. Fletcher. I’ve been a reader for most of my life, but wandering through this old, strange dictionary of ideas was my first real romance with the written word.

Caroline can be found on Twitter @dirtycarrie

 

 

Sexuality and Safety in Monsterhearts

MHCAt the end of 2012, I started a short run as a guest contributor at Bitch Magazine’s blog, examining a number of games and careers that have been produced by the hobby. One of those games I explored in my column was Avery Mcdaldno’s Monsterhearts. In The Sexuality of Monsterhearts, I talked about one of the most integral parts of the game: the sexuality of the characters the players portray.

For those unfamiliar with Monsterhearts: “Monsterhearts lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion that comes both with growing up and feeling like a monster.”

The game was immediately appealing but very fraught for me, and I was incredibly lucky to play the first time with three gifted, kind gamers who made it a very worthwhile experience. I’ve only played Monsterhearts at conventions, and bought my copy at a convention after playing it yet again. It wasn’t until after Big Bad Con in 2012 that I’d end up reading the game in its entirety, and the lack of guidance on treating each other and the subject matter with kindness had really concerned me. But Avery recently completed a short supplement of sorts called Safe Hearts, which will appear in Jackson Tegu’s What Big Teeth You Have.

SHIt’s exactly what I’d said Monsterhearts was missing, and it is absolutely something you can use at the table with other games, and it would take very little customization to do so. Avery outlines the responsibilities Monsterhearts players have to their self, those they play with, and to the characters they portray. Before gaming, groups should set boundaries, to make the space one where people can explore difficult and human topics. Players should breathe, and take breaks to release tension, to reflect and be able to return to the events at hand. [1]

Finally, Avery went over ways players can deal with emotionally recovering from a session of Monsterhearts, with reminders and strategies for being able to call for emotional care during play.

It was the last section, “Reasons to Play,” that spoke to me deeply. That we play to, however second-hand, experience some of the lived experiences of others. We can live, feel and grapple with painful, truthful segments of life when we play a game. That final thought is in a nutshell why I play, write about, and sometimes help make games. Through fiction, we can learn more about the world. Setting up guidelines to honoring  limits doesn’t mean that we will be perfectly safe. Nor does it mean that we won’t explore frightening, uncomfortable, strange emotions.

It means that we are telling each other that we will not abandon one another on our strange journeys.

 

[1] I have a lot of thoughts right now about adapting emotional care to online gaming environments, like games run inside Storium.

The Living Games Conference

Shoshana Kessock is a graduate student at the NYU Game Center, studying Game Design. When she’s not in the classroom, she runs Live Action Role-Playing games, blogs, and regularly deals with zombies at the larp Dystopia Rising. She’s also the coordinator for a first of its kind conference in the United States: the Living Games Conference. Earlier this week, Shoshana answered a few questions about where the inspiration for the conference came from, the work going into it, and why we need it.

LGC flyer

Where did the idea for the Living Games Conference come from? When did you make the decision to coordinate the conference?

The idea for the Living Games Conference was actually inspired by another conference being run at NYU called Different Games, which is a conference about inclusivity and creating spaces for all people in game design and the game community. That conference was being run at NYU to raise awareness about the issue, and I volunteered there during my first year at the Game Center. Shortly thereafter I attended Knutepunkt in Norway in 2013 as well and got a chance to see what Nordic LARP talks and discussions looked like in the heart of a conference all about LARP. That’s when I started to realize that while there were so many conferences to discuss game design and theory in its many forms, we didn’t have a conference for LARP design and theory in North America. I wanted to change that. So in May 2013, at the end of my second semester, I told my department I wanted to run Living Games as my graduate thesis project. And we were off to the races!

How did you assemble the program, academic committees for the conference? What role do they play in how the conference works?

I was lucky enough to have met a lot of really great people while traveling and studying LARP over the last few years, so I had a wonderful group of people to reach out to and bring in for the program committee. Thinkers like Jaakko Stenros, Jessica Hammer, Nick Fortugno, Emily Care Boss, Evan Torner and Sarah Lynne Bowman were all people with whom I was familiar already, so when I reached out I was happy they agreed to help. They came together to help me review all the submissions and decide just who would be speaking and how to help the speakers focus their work to make the best content possible for the conference. Then the academic committee was brought together to review the papers that will be submitted to our proceedings journal that will go with the conference. Along with their usual brilliance in the field, everyone has been fantastic in supporting the work we’re doing here as well.

Who would benefit from attending the conference?

Living Games is a space that can benefit anyone interested in thinking about LARP as a designer, a scholar and a community organizer. Those are the three groups in mind for this conference specifically, but I’d also say that anyone who is even interested in hearing more about the hobby can come and participate. The lectures we’re bringing in are largely academic or design-focused, but LARPers who aren’t any of the above would be able to enjoy the talks and especially enjoy the workshops or game’s showcase.

Why do we need this conference?

This conference is the first of it’s kind in North America – a conference strictly talking about LARP as an innovative, complex and rich part of the game design community. LARP spends a lot of the time being misunderstood and often pushed to the side when it could be contributing some vital ideas to the discussion of games. Other countries have realized this and have places to come together and talk about the future innovations that LARP can create, but here in the US there were only a few scattered pockets. This conference gives people a place to come together and share those ideas with others who are equally passionate about the form. In short: it creates a space for LARPers to speak, discuss and experience new techniques or games.

Will there be recordings from conference talks available after the conference, or live streams during talks?

We are working on getting the conference talks recorded so that they can be made available. In fact, we’re running an IndieGoGo to help fund that portion of the conference that is near to funding. I believe that documentation is so important for us to create that ongoing dialogue about LARPs, so along with an academic proceedings journal to go with the conference, we want to video all we can.


The website for the Living Games Conference is www.livinggamesnyc.com. They can be  found on Twitter @LivingGamesNYC, as and have a Facebook page.  You can buy tickets to the conference on Eventbrite. If you have questions about the event, you can reach the conference by email: livinggamesnyc@gmail.com

The almost completed IndieGoGo for the conference only has a few days left. If you chip in to help with documenting the conference, and you’ll net yourself some neat rewards and the knowledge that you’ve helped fund the first conference of its kind in the United States.  As documentation is completed, IndieGoGo contributors will get links to it as soon as those materials go online.
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