So, you’ve seen the shield-maiden’s report of the Midwinter Gaming Convention held this past weekend in Milwaukee. Now it’s my turn.
First things first, I recall attending this convention 4 years ago, a few weeks before Benjamin was born. In fact, we incorporated that into the characters we played since the shield-maiden was very obviously pregnant. It was a great time and even though we were utterly new, we were greeted warmly and treated to a warm welcome. That first experience, four years ago, is the main reason we continue to return. It’s how conventions should be run and they hit it on the head.
As the name suggests, this is a gaming oriented convention and that said, I did get to partake of one of the LARP events. It was a great deal of fun and is one of the past times that I fully enjoy, but was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why this convention rocked!
I mentioned above the welcoming and accepting atmosphere at the convention. No matter what your flavor of gaming, all were welcomed. The convention and volunteer staff was helpful and friendly, there were a ton of things to do from video gaming to table top role-playing to board gaming to collectible card gaming. From live action to full contact immersion, there was something for everyone. I can’t count the number of “Wows” I felt and uttered at this convention.
I spent some time in the booth, but with the addition of two booth helpers, I got to spend time off on my own for a bit, or with Benjamin (trying on various wares to model as seen in the picture above), or (most importantly) with the shield-maiden, enjoying the convention.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having an accepting or welcoming atmosphere. In relation to other conventions, and I’ve been to quite a few gaming conventions, this one is the best by far. Let me show you an example of comparison:
October of 2009, the shield-maiden and I went to a convention (as our honeymoon) in Atlanta. It was a national convention for the then titled Camarilla (now known as the Mind’s Eye Society). We vended at that one as well and the first thing we noticed was that the vendor’s hall was tucked far away from any of the “action”. This really limited foot traffic and for the number of attendees, the space was a fraction of the size that Midwinter had for its Vendor’s Hall.
I mean, the gaming track wasn’t that bad… I just wasn’t “wowed”, until the night game of Changeling: the Lost, which was the main thing both the shield-maiden and I were looking forward to playing. We were both very excited about it and she had spent the entire day working in the cramped vendor’s room on her feet with the hopeful expectation of the both of us getting to play this game together.
We get food, we eat, we change and then head down to the room that the game is being held at to find the doors locked. We knock, we hear people inside, but no one is coming to open it. We knock louder and then an ST from a different game comes to us and says we can’t go in. When asked why, he says that the doors locked at a particular time and after than no one else was allowed to enter.
Now, I should preface this with that the locking of the doors was not mentioned anywhere in the programming guide (because if it had, we would have been there at that time). It was something that, apparently, they had just decided upon.
So there we were, in full costume (which by the way, the shield-maiden glued sea shells to her face, so you know that our costuming was extensive) being told that we were out of luck. We voiced our concern that this wasn’t right, but he said that there’s nothing he could do.
Needless to say we were very put off by this. Not ones to sit idly by, we voiced our concerns to the Event Staff. We were blown off with the words (paraphrasing), “Not my problem”.
That is an example of how NOT to do a convention. Midwinter Gaming Convention was on the complete other side of the spectrum. They have grown, steadily, each year and by being inclusive of all aspects of gaming, I believe, will see that trend continue.
So, to the staff of the Midwinter Gaming Convention, I salute you. Well done and I look forward to many happy returns.