The cons and their effect on our games

There are a few yearly cons in Norway. The biggest one, the Oslo-based Arcon, has an attendance of around 400 people a year. Together with Bergen’s RegnCon and Trondheim’s HexCon it forms a trinity of tradition-heavy cons that have been arranged for more than two decades.

I think it’s fair to say that most scenarios in Norway would never have been written down in legible form if it wasn’t for these cons. Many scenarios, and – in later years – games, are written especially for the cons. That means they’re one of the major drives for recording and disseminating our gaming culture. Still, there is – as yet – no central collection of con scenarios, although such a collection has been discussed for years.

Having a deadline and an audience are the two things that seem to help people create games. However, the con audience can be a fickle one; some people go to cons with an expressed intention of trying new games, others complain that the cons are being taken over by weird new stuff. Last year’s “Spill Nå!” initiative, where several game designers pledged to write games for all three cons, was a mixed success: The first batch of games was produced, but audience reception was luke-warm and follow-up from designers and con staff was at times nonexistent.

For older gamers, the big cons are often more of a hangout place to catch up with each other than a place to play games. Designers talk about new ideas over a beer, play each others’ new designs, and speculate in how the general public will react to their new inventions. And in the informal atmosphere of the con pub, new acquaintances are made – an invaluable networking arena.

On the other end of the scale, the tiny HolmCon (which is announced on rollespill.net) has proved a fertile breeding and testing ground for new games. Taking place just a few weeks or months after the R.I.S.K. competition, the con has seen the first real playtest of many of the R.I.S.K. games, some of which have spawned new ideas and spinoffs tested at the same con.

If we didn’t have the cons, we’d be fucked.

Pictures

Arcon

HolmCon

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