Midwinter Blues

I attended Midwinter Gaming Convention over the weekend, and sitting in the hotel lounge on a Monday afternoon, the post-convention depression sets in. I had a good time this year, and it was over too soon.

I was able to be part of the reprise of last year’s successful Changing Breeds game that had my werepanther, Bagheera, returning to action with Jessa Michalek’s Werebear, Baloo, along with Mike Holmes’ Corax (werecrow). Like any Werewolf game, Changing Breeds is also about the fight against the Wyrm, a corrupting influence that seeks to cover the world with its taint. I empathize with the eco-warrior storyline of these games, even if, as Matt McElroy points out, the protagonists are, ultimately, doomed.

Scott Ephriam Vigil did a great job getting the game together for us and keeping us going to finish in the short time we had available. He was filling in for Dave Martin, who couldn’t be here this year. I’ve enjoyed my games with all of the Wrecking Crew folks, and I highly recommend the experience. If you ever get the chance to play in a game at a convention run by one of the Wrecking Crew, don’t hesitate: jump in with both feet. That’s one problem with a show like this: too many cool people to hang out and chat (or game) with, but not enough time in the weekend to fit in everyone you want to see.

As often happens, I spent a large chunk of my daytime hours in the booth for Onyx Path, but this year OPP used Midwinter as an opportunity to have a company summit, to talk over the past year and make plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond. They brought in nearly all of the core employees for the show, so this was an unprecedented access opportunity to talk to most of the OPP employees and freelancers about upcoming books, potential work opportunities, and to get to know them a bit better. They’re a talented bunch of folks, and I’m happy to have connections — both direct and indirect — to them.

One thing I find difficult about gaming conventions is the whole idea of gaming with strangers. Without going into detail, I’ve had some unpleasant experiences gaming with strangers, so it’s something I’m leery about at best, even at cons where it’s a relatively safe environment and there are lots of people around. Gaming, like any other community, has it’s bad eggs, and I’m happy to note that Midwinter has been working hard to keep their convention a fun and safe environment for everyone.

The Thursday track of Game Industry networking events was very useful to a lot of attendees, and I’m happy to hear they plan to continue these in the coming years. Even an old hand like me, with lots of industry contacts, learned a thing or two by chatting with other industry folks, so it’s well worth the extra effort to come in earlier in the week for this special programming track. It’s a great way to make industry connections, look for freelance work, and share experiences and concerns about the business of games.

Midwinter, as I understand it, originally started as a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) event, and has since grown to encompass a larger percentage of tabletop-based events. LARPs are still a major component of Midwinter, but there is literally something for everyone — witnessed by the girl scout troop that came through on Sunday to earn their Boardgame badges.

I like Midwinter. Held every year in Milwaukee, and for the last several at Milwaukee Hilton City Center hotel, it’s a great break from the long Midwestern winter. If you’re looking for a really solid industry event, Midwinter is well worth checking out.

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