My very first PaizoCon, and the only one I've been at as an attendee and not an employee, was in 2009. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by so many gamers and gaming professionals excited to share their knowledge and sit down and game as a community. One particular highlight came on the last day as things were winding down. Employees and fans started informally gathering in the lobby area of the hotel and it provided a unique experience getting to ask questions and listen to expertise from not only the game designers and developers, but operational staff as well. I had a unique experience getting to learn about some of the aspects of what keeps the amazing RPG books I loved in print and shipping out. When a customer service position opened at Paizo a few months later, I had no hesitation to apply since this casual networking had let me know that the people I was hoping to work with were fantastic, friendly people. As the convention has grown and moved hotels around, sometimes without a good central lobby space, that kind of connecting atmosphere has been harder to figure out how to facilitate.
A few years ago we moved to Memorial Day weekend, turning PaizoCon into a 4 day convention. Monday's have always been a bit difficult day to predict for scheduling as many folks use this day as a travel day and are worrying about checking out of the hotel, thus making attendance for Monday events much lower than those same events would traditionally pull on one of the other days. Thinking about both of these puzzles together, we've decided to try a bit of an experiment with PaizoCon Monday's schedule.
There will be the traditional 50 tables of organized play Monday morning and Delves-two Playtest and one Starfinder. But this year we're only putting one panel on the schedule, a Playtest feedback seminar where attendees can talk with the designers about how their Playtest experiences at PaizoCon went, and we have no scheduled individual games. Instead, from 10am to 1pm we have over 30 Paizo employees from all departments who will be up in the Evergreen Rooms ready to play our favorite casual board & card games. I'll be there with one of my favorites, Settlers of Catan and I've heard from other folks that games like Dice Forge, One Deck Dungeon, Sentinels of the Multi-Verse, Undercity/Widower's Wood, Island of Dreams, Munchkin Nightmare Before Christmas, Munchkin Rick and Morty, and variations of Fluxx might all make appearances. If you have young kids I'll also be bringing copies of Dinosaur Escape and Spookies. There will also be two employees in Olympic 1 who will be hooking up video games to play on the the seminar projector and bringing a Switch to battle in Mario Kart. For those who are still hoping to play pick up games with other attendees, all of the Cascade rooms will be open for use.
My hope is that the more casual aspect of gaming will help facilitate both PaizoCon attendees and employees getting an opportunity to interact and have fun together in a semi structured environment. As this is an experiment this year, if you have any feedback, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!
Customer Service Manager