DEXCON 20

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

DEXCON 20 wrap up time!

As always I am going to try to focus on how Yog was integrated and impacted the convention experience. However, this convention was AMAZING! Seriously guys, I love this convention series and have had some great experiences in the past, but this one makes the top ten list easily.

Our original plan was to get to the hotel about an hour before check in. That got derailed quickly. We had planned on packing on the Monday before since we were spending Tuesday with friends for the July 4th holiday. Then we got a request for a house showing Tuesday morning. So instead of packing on Monday, we prepped the house, which meant that ALL the packing had to be done on Wednesday. Yog chose to make this one of the rare mornings she let us sleep until 9 am, which was awesome, but got us a late start. Then we had a leisurely breakfast, because vacation. Then the process began. I needed to make sure to have costumes for the three larps I was playing, all black clothes for the larp I was NPCing for, AND all the props and costumes for the larp I was running. Oh. And all the board games I had listed in my event description for The Family Game Table. And that was just the event specific stuff. I still needed to consider other clothes and needs. I managed to pare down on my packing by deciding that living in pieces of larp costumes was a good idea. It turned out to be a very good idea, since I didn’t have much time to change or not be in costume anyway. All in all it took us two hours to pack, with Yog’s assistance. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but SIX IS AWESOME! I was able to give her directions and I didn’t have to pack for her. She got all of her essentials together, which then my husband went through to make sure she had everything covered. He was also my clothing wingman as I gathered costumes together and decided what pieces could be re-used. Just having his presence helped keep me focused as I was definitely feeling overwhelmed. I had created a check list of things I needed to run the children’s larp, which I was really happy for as it was one less thing to think about that morning.

Then we needed to get everything in the car. We asked Yog to hang out in the living room and not make a huge mess while coordinated and she obliged. My husband lugged bags out to me and I figured out how to get everything into our car, as I’m a better Tetris player than he is. It was a tight fit, but we made it. The large orange ball I was bringing for the Escaping Steam was precariously perched, but that would only serve to entertain us during the drive as it rolled on top of Yog while she slept. She didn’t admit to sleeping and couldn’t figure out how the ball landed in her lap!

Check in went smoothly, a fact we (my awesome friends roomed with us) were all thankful for, and we got our connecting rooms. Dinner was had and then we lined up to get our badges. Which is when we noticed that some of the event spaces had been re-arranged. The one that had the biggest impact on us was the Con Suite, which was in an open area instead of a room. It felt more accessible and like it was a part of the activity instead of being a space to step away from the activity. I can see where that would be a negative for some people looking for a quiet space, but when Yog wanted to hang out there we didn’t feel as removed from the action.

Yog got her badge and had it laminated with the rest of us, then we shuffled her off to bed as it was already past bed time. This was a rough night for us. She fought a bit about getting into bed. Then kept insisting that she “just couldn’t fall asleep”. My husband was staying in, but I was heading off to the Larp Bazaar at 10 pm. I wasn’t sure if I had been assigned a space to represent Escaping Steam and wanted to be there to fill the space had one been provided. Also, it’s a great place to say hi to a lot of my friends. I had to put my foot down on the talking to get her to finally fall asleep. She slept through the night and I managed to not watch the sun rise. This is a real struggle with me and conventions.

I was grateful that the convention organizers had asked to move The Family Game Table

Between Events
Yog helped out by pulling our suitcase of games to and from The Family Game Table.

to the 11 am to 1 pm slot (I had been requesting the 9 am to 11 am slot). I was able to sleep in a bit and feel more relaxed going into Thursday. Yog opted to not wear her Wonder Woman costume, as she had worn it a week before and had to ask me to get her out of it, she just wore the headband and belt. I’m not sure if it was because of the later time slot or not, but we had one group join us on Thursday. We played Flash Point Fire Recue. Well, the other group of three and myself played. Yog played with bubbles and Jenga blocks. My husband also joined us as he had the slot open. He didn’t play initially, but as always he was helpful in explaining rules. And he was a total champ, jumping in to fill in for the little girl, when halfway through the game she decided that blowing bubbles with Yog looked like more fun. We also found out that the little girl would be joining us for Escaping Steam.

After that event we did a quick run up to the room to drop off our board game stash, eat a quick lunch and grab our props for

Escaping Steam
The poster we created for the event.

Escaping Steam, the children’s larp we were running. We had two children (with their adults) and one adult player. I had spoken with the adult player before to prepare her for the game, as I knew she was an avid larper and I was afraid she would be bored. Despite the axiom of “no plot survives contact with the players”, this event went very smoothly for me. I had plenty of wonderful help setting up and NPCing, so I could focus on making the game go smoothly, coaching, and playing Steam at the end (as per Yog’s request). Yog was really into helping out, which I was really grateful for. There was lots of adorable during the game. The kids loved making their super hero vests, seemed to get the simple rules quickly and dove right in. I didn’t have them do full character creation, instead allowed them to play themselves as super heroes with super powers. At times they were so involved with the puzzle they were solving they would forget where they put their bubbles down. I had worried about that prior to the game and considered making a way to attach the bubbles to them, but figured that might lead to kids covered in bubble soap and ditched the idea in favor of having the bad guy NPC hold back as needed. I had set each room up with supplies enough for ten kids. One puzzle involved putting stickers on a grid. If they had gotten one grid between all of the kids that would have been enough to consider the room unlocked. However, the industrious pair, along with Yog, loved the grid puzzle so much they did all ten grids before moving on! This caused a slow down for the adults, but since the kids were having fun and we had plenty of time, I let them go. They were completely prepared for the final showdown with Steam and even improvised their own ways of showing her that they wanted to be friends and not steal her treasure. When the game was over I gave each of the kids a paper lunch bag and let them take home some of the props. Clean up turned out to be an easy process since the kids had emptied some of the spaces claiming their treasure. I have several title ideas for other potential games in this vein, so we shall see if I’m able to do this again. A lot of it will depend on Yog wanting to be a part of the process. It definitely won’t happen until next Dexcon, for many reasons.

We packed all the Escaping Steam props into the car to give us more room in the hotel room, then headed back to the room to grab dinner. Since I was running my larp character seminar in the 6 – 8 dinner block and it was such a crazy day, we chose to move our typical pizza night to Thursday.  I got dressed for my 8 pm game, ate, then dashed off to run my seminar, followed by said 8 pm game, leaving Yog in the hands of our friends.

Friday was much quieter. Yog let us sleep in a bit again. We grabbed breakfast then headed off to our event space for the last event we would be running for the weekend, another run of The Family Game Table. We were joined by the other child who played Escaping Steam and his mother. He and Yog played with the cards from Memory and the Jenga blocks. I introduced them to Ice Cool, which ended with the kids practicing flicking the penguins around. Then his mom and I played The Magic Labyrinth, followed by a game of Feed The Kitty with her and her son. We also spent a lot of time just chatting about games and kids.  We wrapped up and the kids parted as kids almost always do – with the resolve that play time couldn’t be over yet.

My Friday afternoon time with Yog was when I planned to go to the Dealer’s Room. Of course she declared shopping “Boring” (her new word for whatever she doesn’t feel like doing) and refused to go. Of course I didn’t give in. We struck a deal that she could sit in the hall outside the Dealer’s Room blowing bubbles while I shopped, with the understanding that I would be spending more time in the room because I had to check on her than if she would just come in with me. We found her a spot behind a table positioned next to the security guard outside of the Dealer’s Room. I would spend a minute or two perusing a table, then go check on her. The security guard was really sweet, he kept telling me she was fine, but I still wasn’t going to just leave her there. I bumped into some friends and chatted for a while, then checked again. I was in the middle of deciding which pair of horns I was going to purchase when little hands wrapped around my legs. Luckily those hands belonged to Yog. She decided to come check on me this time. Then she decided that she too needed a new set of horns. I told her that she would have to use her birthday money. She tried to talk me into buying them for her, but I held fast and she came out with a new pair of horns on her head.

We tried a new to us restaurant Friday night and decided that next time if we go there we’d order for delivery as the shop was tiny and with our whole group it was a bit crowded and there was not enough seating. We wound up taking our food back to the hotel and eating in their outdoor dining area. I had dressed for my 7 pm larp prior to dinner, and had to run off before everyone else was done. Their games didn’t start until 8. So I have no idea how things went with Yog after dinner, she was asleep when I got back to the room way late in the night.

Saturday morning’s schedule was a negotiation between my husband and I. Everyone had a game they really wanted to play. When that happens either he or I give up our game. Since the game he wanted to play was one he has played online with the person running the game at the convention since Dreamation, he let me go to yet another larp. Unfortunately this ran almost back to back with the event I was NPCing and helping to set up. So after the larp I ran up to the room to change out of my costume and devour some food. Larping always makes me hungry. That event ran late enough that I sent the group to dinner ahead of me and I met them at the diner. By now the long weekend was beginning to show on Yog and dinner was a bit of a trial. Once again I was running behind schedule, so once we got back to the hotel one of my amazing friends took care of getting Yog ready for bed while my husband and I ran off to our 8 pm games.

All of our friends had to leave earlier than we had, so Sunday morning was really quiet. We packed up the car, checked out of the hotel, got our prize points, perused the table and headed out. The drive home wasn’t bad, nor was our usual lunch at the diner, despite how tired Yog was. Despite my best efforts at making sure I got enough sleep I was still exhausted. But I was ecstatic. Honestly this convention was one of the best experiences I’ve had at a convention ever. Hence the crazy long post. And this is with me not going into details about how awesome all of the events I attended were. Or how awesome just the environment is. Or the awesome friends I’ve made there. If you want to hear about that, just ask. I could fill another convention talking about this one.

Yeah.

It was that good.

May your gaming table be even a fraction of that.

 

Delayed Post

Hey guys!

It’s the last Tuesday of the month!

I should look at my calendar more often!

More exclamation points!

Anyway, I have this month’s post almost ready to go, but not quite and I won’t have time to get it up today. Instead of posting an unfinished thought I’m going to postpone my DEXCON 20 post until tomorrow.

But it’s going to totally be worth the wait.

What Every Gaming Parent Needs…

Something I’d like to start doing more often – sharing articles I enjoyed with you. This one tackles the tough concept of finding a game that will entertain your child AND you.

Big Imagination Games

So, when I was putting the finishing touches to the Loopin Louie video review, I found myself somewhat downcast… Of all the games that I’ve reviewed so far with my pint-sized progeny, there’s no doubt Loopin’ Louie would be the one I’d recommend…

And yet according to my scoring system, it came in third place, behind First Orchard – a beautifully-produced game for really young children that does at least have one decision for players to make, but remains for grown-ups an experience more akin to First Tortured

So I got to thinking about what it is I personally want when searching for games to play with my kids Ezra (nearly 4) and Eli (2) and whether I need to rethink the rating system. The answer was a little disturbing…

All I care about is me!

20170205_162823.jpg Me! Devil horns and all…

Bear with me a second though gang.

Let’s be honest, here. Kids are easily…

View original post 730 more words

Happy Anniversary!

Welcome to Cthulhumom Games – a blog dedicated to my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.

As I was preparing this month’s post I found this on my drive. I had meant to post it the month before Dexcon, as July was the anniversary of the start of this blog. I had also meant to maintain some sort of sanity in that month and to that end wound up not posting a full article. Thus this article sat waiting. Though the anniversary of this blog has come and gone I still want to share the thoughts I had two months ago. So here it is – two months after the anniversary, my Happy Anniversary post!

—–

I started this blog after many months of thinking about it. I would have experiences and conversations that led me to several realizations. I wanted to share my thoughts and wanted to hear what other gamer parents were experiencing.

The first thing I realized is that there a lot of gamer parents out there, but we can’t always find each other. Life pulls you in so many directions and when one of those directions is directly behind your child (or children) it can be hard to locate other people your age with your interests. I also know how alone a parent can feel. I wanted other gamer parents to know they aren’t alone in trying to find time for their hobby and trying to share their hobby with their children. I looked around and all I could find on the internet was a few posts on various forums, mostly asking the same question “what game should I get for my X year old?”. Games are much more complex than an age rating. So are children. And parents.

I also know that we are all having our unique family experiences, but within those experiences is overlap. In that overlap we can help each other with what we have learned. I wanted to toss my experience out into the wind in hopes that where my life overlaps with yours you could learn from and be entertained by me. I had hoped to hear back and maybe learn a bit from you. I haven’t had much in the way of the conversation I had hoped to foster, but Yog is only five, so I have many years to get better at this.

Speaking of having a conversation, when I started looking into starting a blog there were many discussions on whether or not to have the comments turned on. I decided that I didn’t want this to be a lecture series, but an open dialog started by my (often rambling) thoughts. So I chose to enable the comments. Though there haven’t been many comments and even fewer discussions I consider myself blessed to have such a fine readership. The comments I have received have all been helpful and kind and thus far we have not had the de-evolution of society that is common on a lot of open comments. Thank you.

There is still a lot of ground to cover. Yog is now five, and we are dealing with a new phase in her development – she thinks she’s the boss. And boy is she bossy! We’ll see how this affects our ability to continue to play adult games and where it takes her desire to play with us. We’re still in the “I’m not the kind of person who likes to play games” phase. And who knows, maybe it’s not a phase. Maybe one day I’ll be writing about how we got someone to take her for the weekend so that my husband and I could go to the game convention on our own. Maybe one day I’ll be writing about how I had to explain to Yog that as much as she wants to play both games scheduled at the same time that we still don’t know how to bi-locate and she’ll just have to choose. Maybe lots of things.

We’re starting Kindergarten this year, which means there is a lot of new and first times in our future. We probably haven’t faced this much rapid change since the year she was born. Not that parenting a toddler or pre-schooler isn’t chock full of change and phases, but this is more external changes to handle. I’m curious to see where this next step in our lives leaves our hobby. How much time will we have? Will she want to play games with her new friends? Will we be able to keep in touch with her old friends?

Another goal I had when I started this blog was to feature conversations with other gamer parents and their experiences. This will take planning and time. I need to track down gamer parents willing to be interviewed about their experience, write thoughtful questions, and then figure out between two hectic family schedules when we can sit down to talk. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just not easy. I’d still like to do this. If you are interested in sharing your family experience with me and the rest of the readers, please let me know.

I also have ideas for deeper researched topics. These posts will take more time to produce and there won’t be as many of them. If I’m going to try to present facts to you, I’d like to make them as researched and factual as I can.

I’d like to know what you want to hear me ramble about as well. Feel free to contact me through the site. I love learning things, so if you ask me something that needs some research I’ll jump on that. However, see the previous paragraph.

It’s been an interesting year of learning and growing. I have done more new things inside the gaming community than I have in a long time. It has all given me new perspective on various aspects of gaming. It has presented me with new challenges. I have met many new people. Yog is constantly changing. It has given me new things to write about.

Happy Gaming!

The Good And The Bad

The good news is that I have a lot to say about Dexcon. And that work is crazy busy. So is life in general. The bad news is that I’m beginning to wonder how far one has to go to pass out from exhaustion like you hear celebrities doing all the time. And that this month’s post isn’t ready yet. However, it is started. And I promise not to put it off any longer than needed. But sometimes living comes before writing (unless you’re a professional writer, then get back to work 😉 ). As soon as I have a few spare moments, I promise to share them with you. With pictures. Of Batman.

In The Beginning

Hi and welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games, a blog about my experiences as a gamer mom. I have learned a lot in my four short years of parenthood but am by no means an expert. Not even with my own kid. My goal here is to share my experiences, and hopefully in the future be able to interview others and share their experiences. I will be writing about how I squeeze gaming into my life as well as how we are including our daughter in our hobby.
As my daughter grows and changes so will this blog. Right now our biggest challenge is how do we game with an active Pre-schooler, who cannot focus through a full game of Candy Land quite yet. As a result gaming has to happen during naps and after bed time. Yes I am lucky enough to still have nap time. Our hope is that she will share in the joy of our hobby and one day join us at the gaming table.
When not gaming I am a professional video editor, actress, wife, and mommy. My husband and I have been together for ten years and married for eight of those. We are the parents to a singleton daughter. We all live in a small house in Pennsylvania with our tabby cat, an entire closet full of board games, and shelves of role-playing books with more lurking in the attic. And lest you think we’re completely behind on technology (we’re not completely behind, just mostly), our hard drive holds several more role-playing game books and we own a Wii.
I consider myself a fairly well-rounded gamer, however there are lots of games out there, only so much time, and frankly, only so much interest. I don’t video game. We own the aforementioned Wii and I use it for an exercising game (Walk It Out! – yes it’s cheesy, but it gets me off my butt!). I don’t miniature/war game. I don’t have anything against those game types, I just have no interest in them. My husband does some light war gaming/miniature gaming, so from time to time I may talk about his experiences from our cramped basement. I am terrible at building decks, so any of the classic CCG games are right out. I do however play a variety of board games, card games, table top RPG games, and I love to larp (so long as the system being used is a non-touch resolution style – for now).
I feel like I am a late bloomer in gaming. My husband has played games most of his life, as have a lot of our friends. I grew up playing Monopoly, Life, Parchesi, and Trivial Pursuit. I learned how to play Pinochle when I was in middle school (it was an actual elective class!). I didn’t discover larping until college when my RA introduced me to her gaming group (and thus my husband) based on a vampire poster I had hung up in my dorm room. Yup. Like many a larper in the early 90’s I played Mind’s Eye Theatre’s Masquerade. This is when I consider my gaming life to have begun. It was also when I found out that I was the daughter of gamer parents. As I tried to explain my new-found hobby to my mom over the phone (connected with a cord to the wall by the way), her comment was “Oh, it’s like D&D. I get it, we used to play that when you were younger”. I had no idea the weekly gathering of friends at our house was game night! I just knew I wanted to play with the figures on the table and wasn’t allowed to, but that we got out the air popper and made lots of popcorn.
The first board game that really influenced my current gaming mindset was Settlers of Catan. We played it a few times a week until we started branching out. It’s been years since I’ve played Settlers. I should get into a game next time I’m at a convention.
Since then I have tried Euro style, worker placement, asset management, deck building, party, and tons of other board game types that I cannot even remember or classify. I’ll give anything a few play throughs before deciding I don’t like it. My current favorite table top system is FATE, though I will admit this system has grown and changed a bit since my first introduction and I really only understand the basics of it. My favorite larp system so far is the Cthulhu Live system.
So that’s me in a nutshell. Or, more accurately, in one blog post. Going forward my posts will be on how my husband and I manage to get games in, how our AWESOME gaming group helps us keep gaming, and how we introduce our daughter to the world of gaming. I hope you enjoy the ride and are able to use some of the tricks we’ve figured out. Please feel free to respond with your own tips and tricks, as well as topics you’d like to have me chime in on. Until then – happy gaming!