If I am going to be doing convention retrospectives I really need to get them out the week of the convention but whatever. So Geek.Kon has become my “home” convention. By that I mean that it is the convention that I am staff for as opposed to the conventions I end up “technically” being staffed for at the cons themselves like NoBrandCon, KitsuneKon, etc. This year for Geek.Kon I was the co-equipment head, had my own panel for the first time, as well as running the mixer and the Child’s Play Charity event (my own creation.) So yeah I was on my feet a lot and got pretty worn out.
I guess I should start with my “most important” job of being co-head of the equipment committee. While I was co-head at the convention itself I was in charge of the whole committee. Having a co-head was something we came up with this year to help with the fact that I live in Eau Claire and Geek.Kon is in Madison. I think next year I am going to just be the only Equipment head and find a way to add Skype option to all Geek.Kon meetings so that I can attend all meetings to avoid confusion about there being two heads.
Including myself there were eight people on the Equipment team this year and sometimes I still felt understaffed. Creating AV Klub about a year ago has proven to be a pretty great idea because it has introduced a level or organization that was missing previously. I am also very happy that over the last couple years we have gone from Paul doing everything to Paul, Scotty. and me doing everything to having an actual full team that can have multiple people handling multiple jobs at the same time. The plan was two have two people doing rounds at all times and then having staff where we need them for certain events.
I also was able to connect my 27″ TV to my laptop so that we could have a monitor with the equipment schedule up in the main programming booth at all time. I may expand upon this at future conventions using a desktop computer and dual screens showing both the equipment schedule and other information from the convention. I am currently calling this “Equipment Control” or “Equipment Scheduling” because it sounds better then “small desk with Sarah’s computer on it.”
Traveling to and from the convention I used my Baofeng UV-5R and Baofeng BF-666s for us to communicate between my van with equipment staff and monitors in it and the U-Haul truck with Paul and Sarge in it. The radios worked very well and had a very clear signal over a good distance. There was a funny moment coming back from the convention when Paul and Sarge in the Uhaul couldn’t see us in the van so I said “look for the flashing light” and set the flashlight on my UV-5R to strobe and held it out my window after which allowed the Uhaul to quickly locate us.
The Child’s Play Charity event was my own creation that I ran for the first time this Geek.Kon Friday night. The idea was simple; a group of players would play Super Mario Brothers 2: Lost Levels (the super hard version of Super Mario Brothers that was “too hard” to release to the states until it was bundled in Super Mario All-Stars) with a projector and a single controller. The players would then pass the controller any time they died or passed a level. Outside sponsors would specify an amount they would donate per world passed by the players as well as an optional bonus for if the group of players beat the game. There would also be a box at the event where viewers could donate funds directly. This would be coupled with color commentary from the host.
I was very afraid when setting up this event that I would have no players so I reached out ot my friend Sean Corse from Famicon Dojo to make sure I had at least one player. Turns out this was not a something to be concerned about. Except at the very beginning of the event when we started out with a few players there wasn’t a time in which we had less then five players. During both failures or successes the players and viewers emotions ran high which I helped feed into with color commentary. When the game was beaten after only 3 1/2 hours (which is quite a feat) the elation was amazing. With the donations from viewers and the sponsors we raised $700 for Child’s Play Charity, next year my goal is $1,400.
The next event I ran was my panel titled “Introduction to Scientific Skepticism.” Unfortunately I had put off finishing my panel until literately the night before the panel. I will defiantly not be making that mistake again. I had to go “off script” quite a bit because I just didn’t have enough in the slides for the hour. I also sadly forgot my homeopathic sleeping pills in the equipment hotel room and somehow lost my copy of my citation list. So not only was I unable to overdose on non-medicine and did not have my citation list for when I was asked for it.
Even with these setbacks my panel went very very well. It was well attended for a 11:00 AM panel on a Saturday and out of about 10 attendees I only made one angry who was upset that I attacked homeopathy and kept confusing homeopathy and naturopathy and then finally attempted to use the fact that homopathy may have a Placebo effect as a reason to use it as medicine.
The last event I was in charge of was the Mixer (dance, rave, whatever.) This was my first year running the Mixer and it went pretty well. We had three DJ’s; Liquid86, Kade, and Fermi and video provided by Alhon. Once again I find that I should of started organizing earlier but besides that things went rather well. Next year if I run the event (I want to, I just need to check with whoever becomes Events Head) I will start planning the event as early as possible. This years mixer was much better then the failure that was the one before and I hope was the best one yet but I already can think of a few ways i would like to improve it including more lights.
One last thing I worked on was a project I have been working on for a while called “Project Hermes” which is to allow conventions to have high quality walkie talkies without having to pay to rent them. I was able to talk to twenty or so random staff members about the idea and was able to collect a lot of useful information and input on the project. I think I am finished designing the project and I will be submitting it to a few conventions in the coming weeks.
That is all I have for things I personally did myself but I do want to highlight a few things or events that happened at the convention that were quite memorable in no particular order.
Bridget Landry was one of our guests at Geek.Kon and I absolutely adored her two NASA panels. Yes there was some issues connecting her macbook to our projectors during her first panel but a quick run to Best Buy solved that. Both of her panels are quite probably my two favorite panels I have ever attended.
I brought my OUYA to Geek.Kon and apparently someone liked it enough that they wanted a second controller. Sadly unlike my Xbox360 which I brought back with a bunch of new achievements (I forgot to lock out my profile) I have no real way of knowing how much it was used.
Thursday night after finishing setting up the convention we had the opportunity to pass around some mason jars of apple pie among old and new friends for a little bit of bonding and unwinding while the sleepier among us slept in the other room. After everyone else had gone to bed Darr and I still unable to sleep wandered downstairs to the video game room to play a bit of Lost Levels in preparation for the next day for us to discover that we are quite terrible at the game and that apparently Darr can’t crouch slide (running then crouching to slide under a wall.)
During my previously mentioned time up late in the staff room right after the Childs Play Charity event which I spent writing my Skepticism panel I was provided with great company of two of my favorite people in the world; Adam Pulver and his girlfriend Simone. Adam was quite worn out at this time and eventually took a nap in the staff room leaving the running of the convention to Simone and I. Simone then for some reason that escapes me decided to dramatically read out-loud the terrible fanfic of “My Immortal” which while being greatly disturbing and sometimes brain numbing did function to keep us awake. This event eventually resulted in talk of running an actual 18+ event at the next Geek.Kon. I do hope this happens and will attempt to have something to do with it.
By the time Sunday had come around Jeffro had lost his voice forcing him to communicate with pen & paper. I am not entirely sure how he lost his voice but I would be willing to bet it has something to do with the game Ultimate Werewolf. It was quite hard to resist making fun of him.
After the convention was all done and the Uhaul and Van were loaded the Equipment Team was able to join the rest of staff at TGI Fridays. The after-convention restaurant meal has always been one of my favorite traditions since I have been staffing conventions. Having the opportunity to wind down with the other folk that like you have just worked their butts off running a convention has always been a great experience. I am always very pleased when staff members realize that we in Equipment do take a long time to arrive at the restaurant and I appreciate them waiting for us so we don’t have to eat alone.
All these things were great but by far the greatest thing that happened at Geek.Kon was that I was able to see my girlfriend Shannon and hold her in my arms for a hug. The moment I held her in my arms I knew that no matter what hardships or struggles we face due to the distance between us that I don’t ever want to be without her in my life. Love you sweetheart.