Monday, August 20, 2012

GenCon 2012 and 1968

I'm back from GenCon 2012 in Indianapolis. I had a great time hanging out with many of the folks from the Acaeum, with Tavis Allison, and with the trio of documentarians working on the new film Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary (definitely pitch in to their Kickstartr!). I placed a faux-vintage full-page advertisement for Playing at the World in the convention program, one disguised as a history lesson - or perhaps it was a history lesson disguised as an ad. For those of you that didn't have a chance to attend, here it is.

The top part extracts the section of my book on the first GenCon. I was asked at one point, "How did you convince Peter to put your ad on the same page as that GenCon history?" When I explained that the whole page was all part of the ad, the follow-up question was, "Did they pay you for that, or did you pay them?" Maybe in the future the administrators of the convention will invite me to contribute without purchasing ad space, though probably I would first need to learn to spell GenCon as "Gen Con."

To help me relive the old-school experience, I brought only twenty-two copies of my book with me, which I distributed pretty arbitrarily to various attendees, just as the self-published gamers of old would guerilla-market their own wares. Lou Zocchi wouldn't take the copy I offered him unless I brought home some of his dice in trade, an exchange I was easily persuaded to accept. I was delighted to slip a copy into Dave Megarry's hands, and he even let me take a few pictures of his Dungeon! prototype. Probably my favorite moment at the convention, though, was that the copy of the book I donated to the Gygax Memorial Fund auction ended up selling for $260 - with the help of signatures from the likes of Tim Kask and Frank Mentzer. I really didn't know what to say.

Overall, I was very grateful for the positive sentiments that everyone expressed toward my book.

(Ignore images that follow, linking to their jpg's, will delete).


  1. Sorry I couldn't be there to talk to you about your book; it's great. I lived through a lot of the events you describe, and you have nailed the time and place exactly. I'm the archivist for Prof. Barker's collection of gaming and F/SF materials, and I'm looking forward to comparing your book to his documents from the period.

    yours, chirine (jeff berry)

  2. Jon,

    I just started reading your book and honestly, I can't put it down. Completely Awesome!

  3. Jon, I'd like to also chime in and say that I am fascinated by your book, too. I read the ad in the GenCon program and was immediately interested - I love the history of the hobby I enjoy so much. I went to Tavis's seminar and met you there - I am the one who bought the book in e-format after asking which one made you the most money.

    Anyway, the book is really great. Even though I've only just started, I am already wanting more! Do you have any plans to do a sequel, and continue to story of D&D through to the present day?

  4. @Chirine Glad to hear you're enjoying; I know that there's plenty of Barker's material I didn't get to see (though fortunately I did have Bill Hoyt show me some rare material). I'm hoping to be able to take a closer look someday.

    @kehsher Thanks!

    @J-Logger I do remember. Again this isn't really a money-making enterprise for me as such, but perhaps I do prefer the print version because it has the nice back cover and the index that I spent so many months developing. I think there are people who could address the post-1980 history better than myself - perhaps Mr. Ewalt's forthcoming book "Of Dice and Men" will do justice to it. I just found that things get so diverse by 1979 that finding a common thread proved difficult. I may post a few things in this blog in the future that speak to events of note in the 1980s and 1990s. But I've got plenty more to say about the 1960s and 1970s before we get to that. Thanks!

  5. You sold me your last personal copy in the Gen-Con Auction (right after Frank talked about how glad he was that someone had beaten him to writing the definitive history of the founding of the hobby), and I just wanted to add that I have probably never made a better impulse purchase decision.