For the fourth instalment of "Adventures in Jo'burg", I did something I've always wanted to do: I went to a geek con. The con in question was ICON, which featured lots of Magic: the Gathering, Warhammer and Warhammer 40 000, some LAN gaming (more on that later), some RPGs (more on that later), some LARPing, some cosplaying, and a great big vendor hall full of anime, comic, geek, art and other goodness. And *astonishingly attractive* goth/cat girls.
For those who are interested, it seems that RPG.co.za is the place to go to find out information about ICON. And while I'll post some pics shamelessly scraped from their site (and which are years old), if you want to see more, check out their gallery.
So I arrived, early (too early as it turns out), and had to wait outside as one of the organisers attempted comic relief in the form of deriding attendees who weren't into his gaming (RPGs, as it turns out) at the top of his lungs. Warhammer, Magic, etc. where targets of abuse. But everyone chuckled, so it was fine.
I was attending because I had passed the preliminary rounds for the Mayhem Dawn of War 2 competition. I was looking forward to some solid gaming, and was completely let down. The players I was competing with were beyond excellent - the two who beat me (I eventually came third) thoroughly deserved to win, as their skills in the game completely outclassed my own. But the room was continually noisy (incredibly distracting when you're playing a game which revolves around intense focus), the computers provided were of a poor quality (I had to adjust the monitors myself because the organisers didn't know that the wide-screen monitor used had a native resolution of 1440x900, DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT BELONGED TO ONE OF THEM - and was dirty, to the point of making it hard to make out what was on the screen), and the competition was poorly organised - the match-ups where decided on the day, there was no proper announcement of prizes (in fact they still haven't announced if I won anything for third place, two days after I achieved it), so overall I was unimpressed by the competition.
Then I investigated RP. I love roleplaying games (I have another blog all about it, in fact), and this was really exciting to me - seeing other people playing, finding different points of view on how the games are played and so on.
I registered, and quickly discovered that, as expected, geeks are anti-social. Until I was put into a group with other players, and while the GMs (game masters, the story tellers in RPGs) where reading their source material - a process that takes between 15 and 45 minutes, we all stood around awkwardly if we did not have a large crowd of friends handy (which I don't, being an East Londoner and all). Eventually we got together and we had a great game - we played Call of Cthulhu (a first for me, but something I've always wanted to do), and I enjoyed myself immensely. Afterwards, I was so dog tired, I slouched off home and passed out.
Some highlights from ICON when I wasn't competing or RP'ing:
- Cosplayers. There were several. A guy I knew in the competition introduced me to two catgirls, carrying their doggie slaves. Guys in wode, tieflings (complete with tiny little horns), Yomiko Readman. Not to mention - in case you missed it - CRAZY ATTRACTIVE GOTH GIRLS.
- Chatting with the comic-book vendors. I've read enough over the last four years that I can generally match them in conversation. One of them looked like he was about to cry when I pointed out that I asked for Warren Ellis, not Garth Ennis, because he'd got them mixed up.
- Realizing that I'll never have enough money to dedicate to the hobbies I'd like to have. 40k artbooks at R500. D&D manuals at R480. Boardgames going for over R1000. If I picked up all the books I wished I owned there, I could easily have spent about as much as I have recently started paying off on my car.
- At one point during RP, one of the GMs (tiefling cosplayer, actually) started running around the big tent screaming (in a high-pitched voice) for about thirty seconds. Compete silence (from everyone else) reigned as all eyes turned to him. After finishing and quietening down, he sat back at the table and said (loudly) something like "and that was what the little girl did when you took her teddy bear".
All in all? I'll go there again, if I'm still in town this time next year. It's expensive, and I'll never compete in a Mayhem competition again, but ICON was pretty frickin' awesome :)