Saturday, April 21, 2012

PAX East Cosplay Mini Gallery and My Convention experience with a Toddler

This year I was lucky enough to make it to all 3 days of PAX East!  Trouble is, I was pretty much glued to our hopping Game Salute booth.  Amongst managing the volunteers, teaching demos, and getting photos of our team there was not much time to see the halls.  I did manage to get a few nice shots of some of this year's Cosplayers, though.  Enjoy!

A Very Busy Game Salute Booth!!

Also, since this year we celebrated PAX Easter, I had the unique experience of bringing my 2 year old son to the show. (no one wants to babysit on Easter!) He was an angel the entire day! Spending a large amount of time in the ergo and the rest of the time running around the wide open space of the food court next to us, he never really complained.  Why would he?  There's so much to see and observe.  Needless to say, I got a great work out and he got to experience his first real Con! :0) He even spent some time playing his own version of BEARS! by Fireside Games.  Can't wait till he is old enough to really experience the true spectacle of gaming conventions.

Logan, tired after a LONG day at PAX East.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Going Cardboard with Lorien Green


Lorien Green is a social media manager with a background in community management for Turbine Entertainment and a passion for documentaries, Geekumentaries, specifically, and the creative mind behind the exciting new Geekumentary: Going Cardboard.  I checked in with Lorien recently to see what's been happening since the film's debut.

American Geek Mom: For those who don't know, why choose a Geekumentary about board games?

Lorien Green: I fell into the designer board gaming hobby about the same time I started passionately blogging about indie documentaries, and that combination eventually made me want to do my own film on designer board games, because the topic flat-out deserved it.

AGM: What was it that hooked you into the culture of board games?

LG: I'm a very geeky person myself.  I was one of those quiet shy kids in high school that just couldn't wait to get home, grab the latest copy of Nintendo Power, and get to playing.  In college, it was Magic: the Gathering.  Senior year at Boston University, I became president and founder of the BU Magic: the Gathering club.  After college, it was all about MMOs, starting with Asheron's Call.  So I've got a history of bouncing from one geek sphere to another, gaining appreciation for those sub-cultures.  My husband was responsible for bringing the designer board gaming sphere to light, but once he got into it, I certainly followed.

AGM: What was the first game he introduced you too?

LG: I think the first designer game we played was Catan, but it was Bohnanza that really won me over.  Some of the really early ones we played included Balloon Cup and Lost Cities, too.  Lost Cities remains probably my favorite two-player game.  And the first game I ever taught to other friends was Poison.
AGM: My husband and I also enjoy Lost Cities.  It's definitely a good one for 2 Players. What is your current Favorite Table Top Game?
LG: As far as current favorites, I had a lot of fun at PAX playing Spot It, I've got a copy of that on order, and I have yet to tire of Dominion, especially Dominion Prosperity, which I haven't had enough chances to play.  When four of us get together, Small World is always fun.

AGM: From one geek mom to another, how were you able to balance work, family, and your passion to create this documentary?

LG: For the editing, All Nighters, and that was actually the easy part.  And that was essential, because editing is a thought process; it requires focus.  I did some of it during weekends, with the kids around, but that's not ideal for them or for me.  An all nighter means that it's not taking away from family time or work time, it's only taking away from sleep.  
     For the interviewing work, I was able to do things like take a vacation day from work during the week, drop the kids off at daycare, and drive on down to Salem to do an interview.  The grandparents looked after the kids one weekend so I could go to Essen and film there.  It was definitely a challenge, and restrictive, it made it impossible to do a LOT of traveling and time away for this film, but fortunately the designer board gaming scene is very active in New England.  There were definitely additional trips I would have taken, and interviews I would have done if I'd had the freedom to do so.  I'd love to see someone from another part of the country do their interpretation of a board game documentary.  Because just one isn't enough anyway, not for a hobby this size.
     Bottom line, the family was very supportive, but it IS a sacrifice for them, and they had to do without me sometimes.  Working moms are busy these days, and the idea of, "I've got too much going on as a Mom, I can't do this" is a very common and understandable fear.  But it shouldn't stop you, because if you've got a dream, you can't just bury your dreams and take care of everyone else.  It's not healthy for you, and it's not ultimately good for them either.  And Americans watch, what, 6 hours of TV a day or something?  If you want to make the time, you can make the time.

AGM: What was the most exciting/terrifying part of meeting and interviewing board game designers and other insiders?

LG: One of the most terrifying moments was at the Gathering of Friends.  I couldn't find a good location to interview, and I had an interview scheduled very soon after arriving.  I was in a panic, looking at different conference room options that just weren't working.  In the end, I did the interviews in my hotel room.  I had to do the same thing interviewing Reiner Knizia at Essen, and once again that was an interview scheduled to take place just a few hours after my flight landed.  I was pretty sure I looked like a nervous amateur during that interview, and I really wanted to give him a favorable impression of my skills, to put him at ease that he was working with someone who was going to do something serious and of good quality, and I felt like I wasn't oozing confidence during that.  Until the end of the interview, where he said I asked very good interesting questions.  I think a lot of the time we're more nervous inside than out.
     One of the most exciting parts was of course being able to interview Klaus Teuber.  That was another under the gun moment, because I had to meet up with Klaus and his son Guido, do the interview, then sprint back to the hotel and get out of there because my flight was leaving that morning, and I once again had a serious time crunch.  It all went off smoothly, thank goodness!

AGM: Those do sound like some stressful moments. On the flip side,what was your favorite moment during the film?

LG: For the finished film, it's the final update card for Bryan Johnson, and the way the audiences at two screenings have burst into applause at that spot.  I also have to say, one of my favorite lines in the whole film is Phil Alberg describing Reef Encounter, and saying, "You take ownership by putting a shrimp on it."  It might just be my marine biology background, but something about that line just makes me grin every time.

AGM: Did you have a favorite convention or location you visited?

LG: Definitely Essen.  The only drawback was, it was such a high investment trip for the film (not just financially; it was really important to get amazing footage of that and I had a TON of very important interviews scheduled), and so I was just filming, filming, filming the entire time.  I didn't PLAY anything, and I didn't even BUY anything (well, I got Savannah Tails, autographed :).  That was torture.  I hope someday I can go back there and experience that event as a gamer, and grab some of the really unique games that show there.  I had a ton of filming gear with me, so my travel luggage just wouldn't accommodate purchases.  Alas.

AGM: Do you hope to go back to any of them and bring the whole family?

LG: Oh yes, Essen, since it is SO family-friendly.  I think when the kids are maybe in their early teens (they are 5 and 6 right now), they will have a blast there.  But people definitely were bringing kids their current age to the show, so who knows, it might be sooner.  I wouldn't be opposed.
     More locally, we're getting very close to being able to bring them to things like Unity Games and PAX East, we almost did that this year.  I really can't wait.  Very young kids sort of force a cryogenic period into a gamer's life, but once they get a little older, you have a built-in gaming group at home, and that makes it well worth the wait. :)

AGM: We are definitely counting the days until our son can play games with us.  He is currently a fan of organizing all the pieces in our games and rolling dice.  He actually made it to PAX East with us this year purely due to the fact that Sunday was Easter and it's near impossible to find a sitter for that day ;0)  So, what's next for T-cat productions?

LG: I've got plans, oh yes, I've got some plans.  There are a couple things I want to put in place before I look at filming another feature, but there are also tons of cool local things that I'd like to put to film that might not become documentaries.  Right now things are still really busy with promoting and supporting the marketing for the film (I thought time would free up once it was completed, but no, there is a LOT more work to do now than when I was making it).

AGM: Finally, were there any "AH HA!" moments that you will take with you for future projects or advice you would give to others who want to put on their own director's hat?

LG: My advice, without hesitation, is just DO IT.  Try to find a mentor who can help guide you past some of the pitfalls and newbie mistakes, but don't be afraid of newbie mistakes.  I made many.  It doesn't have to be perfect, and nothing ever is anyway.  If you have a topic that you feel passionate about, and are willing to see it through (this took 3 years for me) then the final product will reflect that passion, and people will pick up on it, and no matter WHAT your topic is, other people out there are going to be interested, and are going to appreciate your effort.  That's one thing the internet has done; niche sub-culture communities can connect in a way that they could not before.
        My own learning moment, and there were many, but one of the big take-a ways was, be fearless.  I spent most of my life shy and quiet, so this whole thing has been outside my comfort zone.  I got butterflies and anxiety at almost every step, I wish I could say that went away with repeated exposure, but it doesn't.  And if you truly feel an idea has merit, pursue it and don't listen to anyone saying it can't be done.  And honestly, even if this project failed or wasn't well-received, that would be a bummer, but I would still have the experience, and have met all these great people, and have learned so much.  That alone would have made it worthwhile and nobody can take that away from you.

I would like to thank Lorien for sharing her passion for board games with all of us and for giving us a little insight into what makes her such a great geek mom.  You can purchase Going Cardboard through many friendly local game stores, the Going Cardboard website, and Amazon.  For Local readers, Going Cardboard will be a screening at Myriad Games in Manchester, NH this Saturday April 21st at 6:00 PM.  Come join us and meet the woman behind this amazing look at table top gaming. You can also keep up with Lorien on Twitter @LorienGreen.