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Dragon Con 2003

Friday, Dragon Con Saturday, Drive Invasion Sunday, Drive Invasion

I'd intended to head down to Drag On Con on Thursday evening to get registered and maybe catch up with old friends, but the whole weekend snuck up on me and I needed Thursday evening to get my game and other propaganda together so I didn't get down to the Hyatt until Friday morning. Which turned out to be fine because nothing got started until 1 PM Friday anyhow and all the old friends I talked to hadn't arrived until Friday, so it worked out fine.
I hit the media relations room and had to absorb some abuse dished out by degenerate BM and other Drag On staffers, well deserved after some ten years of less-than-favorable reviews from yours truly regarding this con. But after the 20 minutes of jovial jabs they still handed over a free pass, then admitted they wanted an honest review. I don't see why they bother giving me a hard time. A) They know I'm going to give an honest review, free pass or not. I'd rather pay for it than let a free pass sway my opinion. B) My tiny efforts to steer this event in a different direction are hopeless. Tens of thousands of fans attend every year, every paper in town does big, positive articles on the thing, and no amount of grumbling on my part has made one bit of difference.

The usual absurd line for registration.

But the staffer that took me to pick up my badge did confide in me that she agreed with all I had to say about the con - too big, no fun. So I started off in a positive mood, despite the fact that many of my old con whore friends couldn't be there - their wife, life, or death is keeping many of them away. But that's ok, I attended this year not as a fan, hoping for fun, but for the actual purpose of the con - money. Degenerate BM accused me of growing up and I suppose giving up on the fruitless search for fun at Drag On and turning to the dark side, capitalism, is as good a definition of "growing up" as any. This year, I attended in an effort to track down a publisher for my new game, Identity Crisis -

The exhibitor's hall wasn't open yet so I got some lunch and joined the other voyeurs in the hotel lobby watching the orcs pass by on the escalator, the Tie Fighter pilot posing with a girl in a red chainmail dress, the stormtrooper with Elvis sunglasses and sequins on his armor, and the occasional hotel guest leftover from the previous event at the hotel who's checking out while muttering to himself, or his cell phone, "It's a fucking freak show down here."
In the hotel lobby, aliens mingled with serial killers, some of them in costumes...
I wandered the catacombs of the Hyatt to find the gaming rooms. There have been a lot of changes in gaming over the last decade. Card-collecting games, a brilliant idea I wish I'd thought of, took over massive portions of the industry with incredible speed, followed by their miniature-collecting brethren. About 1/3 the space was taking up for the card versions, about 1/3 for games using miniatures, and about 1/3 for everything else. Identity Crisis fits in the "everything else" category, and has tested well with both the geek crowd and non-geeks as well so Drag On may not be the place to try to find a lead. Rumor has it Origins or GenCon would be better suited for mass-market contacts.

Eventually the exhibitor's hall opened up and I made a couple of contacts, but nothing I couldn't have found with a few minutes on google or a trip to the local game/comic/toy store. In all the hunting for leads, I missed a panel on game design and marketing that might have been useful. I couldn't find any other event in the listings that seemed useful or entertaining, so I headed home to dine with my lovely girlfriend.

I returned to track down some friends. I had a few drinks with Fantasm staffers, then a couple of their friends showed up, then a couple more, and more until suddenly there was a room full of revelers. The party migrated to a suite across the hall and was an ok party but there's only so much fun you can have when someone brings a baby to the party and you know if you get too loud security will shut the whole thing down. That's been the problem with Drag On for more than a decade - everyone brings their kids and the damn thing is so big that they can't risk pissing off the hotel in any way so parties and events have to be as conservative as Sunday dinner at the Ashcroft home.
I decided to check out some of the events, just in case I was missing something by hanging out at the sole party anyone could find.

Fantasm staffer luggage. Nuff said.

They didn't have midgets at the wrestling show, the only con-sponsored event I'd enjoyed last year.
I caught a few minutes of Troma's film, Citizen Toxie - a funny, gross picture, as you'd expect, but I wasn't in the mood to sit and watch a movie.

I caught a few minutes of some lousy punk band that was trying really hard but not connecting with even a single person of the small crowd in a mostly empty, cavernous hall. Everyone sat still as corpses.
I stopped by the dance. They had the room so dark you could barely tell there was anyone in there. Either the fans this year weren't into dancing, or I wasn't there late enough, or I wasn't finding whatever the hell there was that was better to do.

I didn't want to geek out and game all night so I gave up wandering and headed back to the party.
A topless girl bounced in and out of the room and the balcony was crowded with smokers, but there's still only so much fun to be had with a male:female ratio of about 10:1 and the ever-present threat of teen goth vampires in headsets playing "Drag On Con Security, the Stop All Action Role Playing Game." (I've heard since that there were countless problems with Drag On security and/or the APD.)
Sometime around 2 AM I gave up and caught a cab home.

Degenerate BM said, "At least say 'It wasn't terrible.'"
Well, it wasn't.
There were some really magnificent costumes, as always (though one could argue that's not a con-sponsored event, it's something done by the fans.)
The exhibitor's hall was packed with the latest games, comics, movies, etc., so if you want to catch up on what's going on in the geek industry it's a great place to do it.
You could play just about any game you ever wanted to play with large groups of people who actually want to play those games too.
And There were some good deals on merch of just about any geek flavor, from comics to action figures to games to clothing to autographs from stars everyone else has either forgotten or never even knew about.

The Dealer's Room

If that sounds like fun to you, you're probably male, age 9 - 30-something, still live with your parents, do something with computers for a living, and are willing to fork over large amounts of money once a year for an environment where you can let it all hang out to make up for your lack of social skills in the "real" world the rest of the year.
If that sounds like you, Drag On is not terrible.
And that's ok.
But if you're like me, you'd be bored and better off at the Starlight Drive In for the annual Drive Invasion. I didn't return to the con the rest of the weekend.

Friday, Dragon Con Saturday, Drive Invasion Sunday, Drive Invasion

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