Las Vegas was awesome. The GAMA Trade Show was stellar this year, with three halls of exhibitors and record numbers of retail and distributor attendees.
Monday was largely a day for registrations, booth set-up, and seminars. Touched base with some good friends and started the convention off on the right foot by holding the official Green Ronin dinner at Picasso
, a French restaurant in the Bellagio hotel that is simply out of this world. It was, without question, the best meal I have ever had. The service was like a dream, the food and wine were outstanding, the atmosphere was classy, soothing, calming and a welcome relief from the hustle of the long day of travel and convention prep. Simply amazing, I can't possibly convey how glorious that two-hour, five-course meal was.
Tuesday Green Ronin
co-hosted a brunch for retail and distributor buyers. The room was standing room only: we had been told to anticipate ~500 retailers and in the end there were over 2100 badges sold, over 600 retail stores represented. The response to our announcements was enthusiastic, and there was much buzz around the room when we talked about some of our upcoming products, like Cartographica
, our book of color fantasy maps, or Bastards & Bloodlines
, a book of half-breed fantasy monsters. We were especially pleased by the response to our official announcement of our license to do a game book
based on The Nocturnals
Tuesday we were also pleased and grateful that the members of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design
chose to honor us with five Origins Awards nominations.
Game of the Year: Mutants & Masterminds
Best Role-playing Game: Mutants & Masterminds
Best Graphic Presentation of the Book Product: Mutants & Masterminds
Best Role-playing Supplement: Freeport: The City of Adventure
Best Game Accessory: Pocket Grimoires
Tuesday wasn't *all* fun and games, though, because it was also the first day that the exhibitors halls were open to all attendees, and the booth was packed. We talked until we were hoarse, we gave out hundreds of magazines, collected business cards, and stood until our feet ached. The overwhelmingly positive response was wonderfully soothing after hunkering down all winter for what seemed like endless work on difficult projects. It was all worth it to hear that those products were well-received.
Tuesday night we met with our sales and fulfillment partners Osseum Entertainment
for yet more fine dining at Nobu's Hard Rock Casino branch. We had the chef's arrangement and it remains some of the best Asian cuisine I've ever enjoyed. Though we didn't get our favorites off the menu, like the Shrimp in Spicy Creamy Sauce, or the Miso Black Cod, or the Tuna tartar, we were treated to plenty of other wonderful, unusual, creative dishes. Yum, yum, I could eat my way through Las Vegas into bankruptcy, no problem.
Somewhere between Monday and Wednesday we discovered our website was hacked by a group claiming to be anti-war protesters. They erased our front page and replaced it with an anti-war message. I doubt they're really motivated by the war. We've had trouble with Russian hackers who have exploited weaknesses in the program we use for our message boards in the past, and our webmaster has been tearing his hair out trying to keep ahead of them this week as they've continued to break into our website, erasing back-up files and tinkering with things they had no right to touch. Very unpleasant, but essentially minor vandalism. And we've gotten a lot of love from the fans as they've found out about it.
Wednesday was another day on the convention floor, and lots of meetings. Lunch with one of our favorite retailers, Jim Crocker and as always he provided us with some invaluable insight into the industry from the retail perspective. Wednesday night we had a business dinner with two distributor reps (Marcelo and Nicole), our good friend Jeff (who does some freelance graphic design for us on occasion) and the Green Ronin staff. This time it was dinner at Red Square in the Mandalay Bay. Once again, wonderful wonderful. Sadly I had to call it an early night because of an early morning Board of Directors meeting. War breaking out made people a little more troubled and subdued than usual.
Thursday was the last day of the show and also the day I had to do the most politics. I hate politics. However, I have to say that the meeting was one of the best I've attended in the three years I've been serving, and I am quite excited about the direction the organization is taking. It's especially a relief to remove some of the obstructionist board members that have been serving in recent memory. People come to the board with their own agendas, obviously, but it's refreshing to no longer be under the thumb of people who are determined to be obstructionist bullies. We get so much more done!
Thursday night I missed going out for dinner with my friend John Kovalic and his lovely wife Judith because I had a Board of Directors dinner. That is probably the most disappointing thing that happened to me in Las Vegas! Dinner was unforgivably slow in coming, an hour to get appetizers, over two hours to get our entrees. So slow that people had to leave to catch their planes without being able to eat the food they'd ordered! I was furious, starving, and had a miserable time because of it. Sometime after 10:30 I managed to hook up with Hal and Chris again, and we'd talked about going to a popular bar called Ghost Bar to have a little fun but I was not up to taking yet another cab ride out somewhere to *start* an evening of fun at 11:00 pm. Must be getting old, but I decided to go up and go to bed instead. Besides, the war footage was playing on the bar televisions at the hotel, and I just wasn't feeling very jolly or celebratory.
Friday we checked out of the hotel, shipped our convention display home, and had a few hours to enjoy ourselves before catching the plane home. We decided to do something we would never do at home: we went to a shooting range where you can fire automatic weapons! The place is called The Gun Store
. I believe the Thompson was the hands down favorite of the three weapons we tried. Chris kept a spent casing as a souvenir, which turned out to be a slight problem once we got to the airport (but only after they made me pour my iced-coffee drink out of its clear plastic to-go cup into a less threatening paper cup). Apparently a completely spent and harmless shell casing needed to be examined by three different people before we were allowed to fully pass through security "just in case" (though just in case *what* was never clear).
This update is long enough for now, I suppose. I will be leaving shortly to go pick Kate up from my mother's house and heading back right away. Then we're done traveling for a while, until April.
Labels: food, game industry, travel