Kuei Con Future?

November 18, 2007

For the last two years, with the help of Ben Lehman, I’ve been running an apartment convention- “Kuei Con”. It’s been mostly a word of mouth kind of thing that’s pulled 20 or so people many of whom I’ve never met before.

The nice thing about an apartment con, is that basically it’s a 3 day chilled out get-together. People come over, hang out, talk shit and play games. Aside from making sure you’ve got enough food and toilet paper, and have done an adequate job of cleaning, it’s a breeze.

This last year, I’ve been hit with massive medical expenses, had to get a roommate, and suddenly my huge apartment isn’t so huge anymore.

So what is the future for Kuei Con? Right now it’s on hiatus. In order to run Kuei Con, I’d now have to pour a lot of effort into juggling logistics, and the question to myself is “What do I want to get from it to make it worth that effort?”

This came from talking to a friend who has run a local fandom convention for the last 7 years, and the question she had about gaming conventions- “Don’t any of the panels address critical media theory (in regards to race, gender, etc.)?” to which I had to reply that for the most part, it’s all about either industry hype or amateur “How-to” type things. Her con typically includes at least 2-3 such panels.

With more thought, I realized if I was to do anything more involved than an apartment convention, I’d definitely want gaming, but I’d probably want to make sure there is some kind of larger dialogue about the culture of the hobby.

In just three days, I’ve encountered three five seperate occassions where someone has mentioned they’ve left roleplaying due to the unending river of racism, sexism, etc. And what is, is that it isn’t a matter of the hobby as a whole being screwed up like that, it’s the sheer number of people who either will say nothing or even defend the fucked up behavior that makes it hostile territory.

An illustrative example happened to two of my friends last year who went to WisCon- Women in Science Fiction con out in Wisconsin. Someone screamed “Nigger” at them from a passing car. That was fucked up, but something you could write off as one person’s crazy.

It was the fact that amongst the busy street, not a single person batted an eye, took note, or even seemed bothered by the fact.

That’s the hostile territory that drives people away.

If there’s one thing that always draws people to gaming- it’s the power of personal participation. And if we can build imaginary worlds to our liking, sets of rules to make stories we like, why can’t we build a culture we like? Why should we eat shit in our escapism as well?

Ultimately, for Kuei Con to be worth my time, it has to be the kind of place that makes for a better gaming culture. It’s not enough to simply squee about how awesome a scene was, or how a cool set of mechanics fits together elegantly, I need to know we’re not driving away people in droves simply because we refuse to look at the people playing, the people publishing and hold them accountable to the simplest of all things at the table: respect. I want to build that safe space convention where I can bring my friends- established gamers, ex-gamers, or not-yet-gamers and let them know that they’re not entering hostile territory.

That’s how I see Kuei Con. A place where folks can play games, and talk about changing minds, for the better.

Can it happen? I don’t know.

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