Q & A About Conception 2002
Basically, this article consists of a number of questions, and our answers to them. They aren't necessarily specific questions asked by specific people. Instead, we've tried to distill the responses we got, via email, Usenet and various message boards, into a set number of questions.
In the email you sent to the subscribers list you called your article a review, but for a review it didn't seem very objective?
Correct. The article is a totally subjective "diary" of what happened to us. It's completely truthful, but it is only the truth as it happened to us.
Therefore I should not have used the word "review" to describe it. As soon as this was pointed out to me, I stopped doing so.
What about all the stuff you said about feeling weird when you saw some of the other gamers?
It is true that we didn't mix very well. I don't think that this was the main cause of us not having a good time. I think that was down to the poor organisation. But it is true that we could have made more of an effort to mix with the other conference attendees, and that perhaps part of the reason that we didn't was down to us being a bit judgemental about the way people behaved.
(I'm mainly referring here to the section where we were in the bar, just after we arrived, and were a bit freaked out by the people roleplaying on the table right next to us).
The reason I described how we felt was because I wanted the article to be a truthful account. I described everything that happened to us. I tried, as best as possible, to describe all the feelings that we were having.
If you wrote the article again, would you write it differently?
To be completely honest, given the amount of flak we got for it, the answer here is probably yes.
Firstly, I would have censored the section at the end of the article where I allowed the other blokes to write their own description of what happened.
Secondly, I would have left out all the stuff that made us look bad - all the bits where we had slightly snobbish thoughts about some of the other gamers at the convention (i.e. the stuff I was talking about in the answer just above).
But the irony is that if I'd done that, the article would be much less honest. The stuff that seemed to make people particularly angry was the stuff that made us look bad. If I'd taken that out, it would have made us look better, and the Conception organisers worse.
Would it have been a better article?
Not in my opinion.
You made a big deal about the money you spent. But that money didn't go to the organisers of the convention, and besides they weren't doing it for profit. So why go on about it?
The point we were trying to make is that when you run this kind of residential convention, people will end up spending quite a lot of money, not just on accommodation, but on food and transport as well. Since the reason they've spent that money is that your advertising has stated that they will be able to access various services (i.e. play games), you have some responsibility to provide those services.
If you don't, they are going to feel they wasted all the money they spent on food and transport.
Conception was actually very good value for money, if you were able to get into games. If you weren't, as was the case with us, then you felt a bit miffed.
You spent a lot of money on food. Was food not available at the convention?
Yes there was, and I'll apologise at this point for not mentioning that in our article.
The problem is that since I'm a vegan, the snack bar was pretty much irrelevant to me, so I just forgot to mention it. Demonic and Evil G tried out the breakfasts that the snack bar offered, and they were apparently pretty good.
There was also a supermarket on the site, but we were unaware of it when we went to the Sainsburys on Friday morning.
Did you follow the correct procedure when you tried to run your game (Pimp)?
Well yes and no. Or more no, but we think that was the fault of the organisation, not us.
Dave Moore stated the following on uk.games.roleplay:
The procedure for DoGs, which a lot of people followed was to go to the desk and ask, and then the desk people would put it down on the main sheet.
If this didn't happen in entirety this year we will make damn sure that it will, next year.
Well we were a bit upset when we initially read that, since we *had* gone to the front desk and asked, and were given what was apparently the wrong instructions, which was simply to put up a poster on a side noticeboard.
We were also upset because the way Dave wrote the first paragraph seemed to suggest: "well other people did it the right way by going to the front desk" which seems to unfairly blame us. Meanwhile the second paragraph says "if this didn't happen" when our report clearly indicates that in our case it *didn't* - so we felt the "if" basically was saying "if Critical Miss are telling the truth".
But on the other hand, Dave's second paragraph indicates that they will try to sort things out for next year, so that's good.
Did anyone actually want to play Pimp?
Well it was suggested by various people was that the reason we couldn't find any players was because it's a crap game. :-)
But then we did notice a post on the RPGA Forum (as this has since been shut down we can't provide a link) in which a Mark Brown wrote:
"When I respond to critical miss I will probably have to point out to them that we wanted to play 'Pimp' having read about it on their site (and having found the concept very amusing). However we resorted to playing a board game as we could not find anyone running 'Pimp' when the slot came around."
So that is at least one group who wanted to play the game, but assumed - presumably due to it not being included in the list of games read out - that it wasn't happening. (Bubba did go out afterwards to try to find people, but presumably Mark's group had given up by then).
Interesting enough, this also appears to be a case of people who turned up to play a game, and then wondered off to amuse themselves, as we had to do on two occasions.
Why Did You Only Buy Tickets For Three Slots Out Of Ten?
This was one of the points made by Andrew Mussell in the Conception organisers' official response.
When you first hear that, it does make it sound like we're weren't trying to game. So I think I ought to point out what we were doing for each slot:
Slot 1 (Thursday evening): We already were taking the Friday off work. In order to make it down to Dorset in time for the games on the Thursday evening, we would have to have taken the Thursday off work as well. Given that taking time off is difficult for some of us, it didn't seem worth it just for one session. So we spent Thursday evening driving down (i.e. after work).
Slot 2 (Friday morning): We went shopping. Whether we needed to drive off to a supermarket is a matter of opinion, but once we had decided to, it pretty much forced us to give up a session.
Slot 3 (Friday afternoon): GAMING
Slot 4 (Friday evening): We would have been gaming, but Evil G was travelling down that evening by train (he wasn't able to get the Friday off work). The plan was that when he arrived, he would phone us, and I would drive down and pick him up. That meant that I couldn't take part in a convention session, so we decided to play D&D in the chalet (taking a break when I went to pick him up).
Slot 5 (Saturday morning): We had decided to run a game of Pimp in the afternoon, so we needed to prepare, clear up and so on. The other guys did manage to get a quick game of D&D in, but I spent the whole session marking cards.
Slot 6 (Saturday afternoon): This session was when we were supposed to be running Pimp.
Slot 7 (Saturday evening): This session we turned up to game but couldn't get in.
Slot 8 (Sunday morning): This session we (minus Evil G and Demonic, who were pretty pissed off after the events of the previous day) turned up to game but couldn't get in.
Slot 9 (Sunday afternoon): Unfortunately, we had to get the car back within 72 hours of when we picked it up (personally I think that we should have just hired it for four days, but then I wasn't paying for it) so we spent this slot travelling down.
So, of the nine slots we lost the first and last due to travelling, leaving seven.
Of those seven sessions, we planned to spend five gaming: three playing games, and two organising one. (Remember if we hadn't been wanting to run Pimp, we'd have wanted to spend that time gaming).
Five out of seven seems like a reasonable proportion to me.
Would You Go To Conception 2003?
Well I personally won't be going, and neither will the rest of my group, because after what happened at the convention, and afterwards, we would feel very awkward, and I expect the organisers would too.
But the real question is not would I go, but should you go?
There wasn't actually a lot wrong with the convention, but what was wrong was enough to ruin it for us.
Imagine a car whose battery is flat. The car is totally unable to perform its task, but it can fixed quite easily.
Conception 2002 was like that. The only major things wrong with it were the marshalling, and the information given out at the reception desk. That was enough to totally stuff it up for us, but if those two things are fixed, then it could be a really good convention.
From things that the organisers have said online, it appears that these things will be fixed. Dave Moore made a post to the Raven convention forum (17th post down):
...where he stated that there will be several marshalls with clipboards who will circulate through all waiting players (in the 15 minutes before game start) taking first and second choices, and then reporting back to the admin desk where GMs will be assigned as required.
Basically it sounds like it will be hugely better than last year.
(I'm not sure whether we should claim any credit for that or not).
So, although I'm not going to go, and although I can't tell you that if you go everything will be fine...
...if I was you, I'd go.
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