April 29, 2008

Loaded Dice, Revisited

Today, a repost. This post was from 8/23/07, a few days after returning from Gen Con. It is fresh in my mind because Chuck is making plans for this year's Gen Con, and for the first time in a couple of years, I am not attending with him. I swear I am not posting this as a passive aggressive way to guilt trip him... we discussed it and made the decision, it was a smart decision for business reasons...the Wreaking Havoc guys are going as a group to promote the book and save money at the Con, which can be a costly venture. It was a good decision, but it still hurts me to be left out this time around, because I enjoy this event and I will miss the excitement and energy of it as well as all the friends I have made over the past few years.

I am also thinking of this old post because we attended a convention last weekend, and events that occurred there have brought to mind some gender issues. I will not go into specifics, but I have been thinking about the differences and similarities between men and women a lot lately, and I am thinking about stereotypical roles that men and women are pigeonholed into, when the reality is that we are all unique. This post is an example of that, about some of the things that society things "guys" should be, and how the world might be better if they were not...
So the tshirt above was one of my favorite designs at GenCon. There were SO many great tshirts...walking the corridors back to the hotel was fun because we got to see costumes and read tshirts...very entertaining. But I think the quote above, "Real Men Fight With Dice" just about sums up my experience of the people at GenCon.

I will admit, I was a little nervous the first few times we went to a con like this. GenCon looks to me to be attended by about at least 75% men. Attendance last year was about 26,000. That's a lot of guys! In any other situation, I would be very scared of a huge mass of men like that. I really don't mean to be sexist, but as a woman, I have seen masses of men at sports events and other "manly" events and I know that things can get aggressive. I try to avoid that sort of aggression at all costs, for my own safety. I have felt the discomfort and fear of being the only woman in a group of strange men, at a show, or in public, or on an elevator. It is vulnerable and real and scary to get that creepy feeling that the guys around you might get violent. I feel like as a woman, I am usually on guard for that...maybe its a result of living in Detroit, or maybe I am too untrusting in my fellow man, but I have almost always felt the need to be aware of these things.

But something at GenCon seems different. I don't know if it is a different type of *guy* who attends, or the fact that the aggressive energy is being channelled into the games and events, or if it is just a matter of a guy's weekend, so that us ladies are simply ignored. Whatever the case, I felt surprisingly comfortable for most of the show.

Now I will admit, I was not in the bowels of Gen Con, in the late night dungeons of gaming that go on. But at the surface at least, I didn't see one act of spontaneous aggression, or sparring, or violence. I mean that's funny and kind of ironic to say, because there is fighting imagery everywhere and there was role playing and guys hitting each other with swords and foam bats, but it was controlled and rehearsed, and the imagery is obviously accepted as fantasy. What I mean is that I saw no randomly occurring real time fights break out. And I didn't see the sort of security force or police presence that I would imagine if this were a big sports event. Well, except for the Stormtroopers...

A costumed couple in front of our booth, the gentleman had won an award.

So anyway, Gen Con gives me some hope that there are lots of guys who can settle their disputes and release pent up energy without violence. And that games can channel aggression into creative and imaginititve expressions instead of physical fighting. The guys of Gen Con seemed much more likely to battle with dice, or cards, or biting sarcastic humor, than actually fight. This is why I love gaming guys.


  1. Great post Melanie. I admire your candor and ability to think through issues.