At Indiecade again this year.
Which is wonderful--it is not a convention. It calls itself a festival and it is. In the good sense of the word, like Maryland Deathfest is a festival, not in the way that something involving leaves or cows is a festival.
They asked me to run Dread--the Jenga-powered horror RPG, and it went well.
Since I don't have any game stuff out this year, I got to play a lot of games rather than just talk about a book I made near them, which was nice. They were almost all awesome. This is hard to believe, but true: I played lots of games and they were good. There was one bad one, but it was made by a person who was bad and nobody else liked it either, so even that was actually kinda perfect.
But here's the takeaway I had, and I think it's related to why people fucking love Indiecade: not only are there games (which, yeah, people like) but because it's big enough for there to be lots of people around and because it's also small enough that you feel ok talking to them about whatever you just thought about this game on account of you probably both like to talk about games and because it's not even a little bit of a corporate shitshow yet and because, for many of them, they got on a plane or a train to come to Los Angeles and so this is a big deal and a trip and a vacation because of all these things, Indiecade makes it so you aren't ever choosing between the game and life.
And that's always the best of both worlds. Like pool is an awesome game a little bit because knocking balls around with sticks is like fun, but more because you can play it in bars. And RPGs are awesome because they take fictions--which are usually solitary and one-way things--and crack them open and make them into sports. You and your friends are on a team inside fiction. There aren't as many people in the game as there are in the bar, but it's compensated for by the fact that what you are all climbing into is something that's usually so much harder to share than the way polyurethane bounces off felt.
So I tried a lot of the most impressive video games at Indiecade and was like "Wow, this is a beautiful, miraculous monument to human ingenuity, I could so drop down this rabbit hole and do nothing else for weeks..." but I didn't because when I came home Evan was running D&D, and so I had absolutely no use for a rabbit hole.
So my favorite this year wasn't the one with the amazing physics engine or the gorgeous mushroom forest or the virtual reality helmet or enough RPG-friendly sexy mystery fluff to choke a horse. It was this quick and dirty motherfucker. I want it and 4 controllers in every bar in America yesterday.