The Geekpreacher: GenCon Day One

GenCon 2012

My friends and I arrived in Indianapolis fairly early on Wednesday morning. We did so because we thought traveling at night would be much easier and, while it was very tiring, that worked out really well. The traffic on the road was light and we were abale to avoid a good deal of this summer’s often unbearable heat.

So, what’s The Geekpreacher doing at GenCon? Another year has come and I have the opportunity to once more take part in the Christianity & Gaming Panel as well as speak during the worship on Sunday. Both are sponsored by the Christian Gamer’s Guild. (The CGG is a community of Christians who like to play games. We gather through various online media for support, discussion, and a bit of friendship. I’ve been a part of this community since the mid-1990s and it has allowed me to meet some good people who share a common faith and a common love of gaming and a variety of other “geeky goodness.”)

After arriving at our hotel early and, thanks be to God, being allowed to check in early the guys traveling with me were able to take a brief nap before helping me over at the auction hall. I’d have liked to have been able to nap as well but, instead, I ended up spending forty-five minutes on the phone listening to someone who just needed to talk. This is the nature of what I’ve been called to do. It’s not always easy but I love every opportunity to bring and/or be Christ to those around me so that can be pretty awesome.

After the guys woke up, we went to the auction room at the Indianapolis Convention center where many of GenCon’s main activities occur. I had preregistered the items I’m selling this year thinking that would speed up the process but I was wrong! The lines and the amount of products people are selling seems to grow every year. I wonder if that is a statement on our current economy and/or the state of our hobby? I’m not quite sure. (I am selling some of my own collectibles to fund my trip to GenCon. This is not a ministry activity for which I’m paid or reimbursed so every little bit helps. Maybe this is a sign of the economy because I found myself selling more items this year than I’ve done in the past.)

So, now I find myself waiting. I’m thinking this is going to be a boring wait and then two people walk up whom I haven’t seen since last year. Both of them are great, Christian friends I’ve made over the years and come from varied Christian backgrounds. One is a self-described “Belly-Dancing Baptist Bibliophile” and we stood around just chatting about the interesting things God has been doing in their lives. This was a great experience. Hearing and seeing the great joy their faith brings them as well as the amazing activity God is doing in their lives is simply amazing. So, right away I know this is going to be a great Con. We also talk about the struggles as well but even the struggles seem to be a joy for them. Just…plain…awesome.

As we are talking, Frank Mentzer makes his way over to say hello. Frank is always a very fun and congenial conversationalist and my friends are having a bit of “fame” shock. Frank isn’t the type of  guy who basks in hero worship and he proceeds to tell us about a great book that has just been written detailing the history of our hobby. I have my friend Ben take a picture of the book as it seems like something I may be able to use for my doctoral work coming up in a few weeks.

Well, it ends up taking a few hours to have my items entered into the auction and by this time we are all hungry. We’ve missed lunch and it’s been a long time since breakfast. One of my friends, who is local to Indy, takes us to Scotty’s Brewhouse where we have some good food and fun. Scotty’s does a great job of catering to gamer’s during GenCon so we see things like “Dragon Ale” on the menu as well as some “Troll Stones” and various other “geeky” menu items. We even receive some dice for ordering off the GenCon menu. As we joke with the waiters and waitresses and incessantly tease the manager (Okay, Ben did a lot of teasing. He’s a fun, guy to have along.) we find some of the tension from waiting at the auction has worn off.

We make it back to the hotel room where we relax for a bit. My friends decide to go find some early gaming but I’m worn out so I call it an early night. I take some time to talk to my wife and children on the phone (as well as review our new Wednesday programming with my awesome wife), read over the Scriptures for Sunday, and then hear the fire alarm go off at the hotel. Ends up being a false alarm. I’m wondering if some gamers were just having a bit of fun with us but everything turned out okay. Head back to the room, read a bit more, spend some time in prayer, and crash….HARD! Ended up waking up fairly early and see that both my friends have made it back to the room safely and are crashed out in their various spots.

Overall, I would say it was a  good day. Met many friends I know from the “Con scene” and had some excellent spiritual conversations. This Geekpreacher thing is a great way of being “me” to the world around me and I must say I enjoy it immensely. I know for some of my fellow geeks/gamers/nerds I’m a bit of an odd animal but the responses are almost always overwhelmingly positive. I am still amazed at the intelligence, wit, and wisdom of the geek community but that’s part of it, right? So, I’m looking forward to Day Two and seeing what it will bring.

If you see me around the Con, make sure to stop by and say “Hello!” And, you know what, I may even listen to your story about your favorite character.

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