A few weeks ago, i had the great opportunity to attend and help run the Good Games booth at Cancon 2017. As a wargamer, Cancon is possibly my favourite Australian convention of the year. Situated appropriately enough in Canberra and taking place over the three-day weekend closest to Australia Day, Cancon is a yearly pilgrimage for many hundreds of wargamers from all over the country. Players take part in tournaments from a dizzying number of different gaming systems, play in huge exhibition games, check out the stalls, take part in the mythical swap-meet and generally have great times with mates, some of which we only see at conventions like these.
While Cancon is primarily known for its wargaming focus these days, it caters to pretty much every aspect of gaming that isn’t electronic. For example, this year for Magic: The Gathering, there was a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier, Gran Prix Trial Brisbane and one of Australia’s largest Legacy tournaments for the year. There were YuGiOh events, Pokemon Sneak peaks, RPG sessions, multiple store Championships for Fantasy Flight Games and even a cosplay event, much to the bemusement of some of the more “serious” wargamers. Hundreds of people came in to play boardgames or take part in miniature painting competitions (judged by internationally recognised artists).
Cancon is also a meeting point for budding game designers and at least one group of gamers launched a Kickstarter for their MOBA inspired miniatures game Judgement (check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gunmeistergames/judgement-a-moba-inspired-54mm-miniatures-game). Strangely, Cancon always seems to be one of the longest running best kept secrets kept from Canberrans not “in the know”. Every time we venture into the town centre people ask what we are down and we receive blank looks when we answer. Eventually we will spread the word to everyone of the awesomeness that is gaming!
This year, i was once again part of the Good Games team that went to run our (frankly megalithic) booth. While i sadly didn’t have a chance to take part in any tournaments this year, I really enjoyed being part of the Good Games team. We work hard – there is a mind-boggling array of products and sales to keep track of, it’s long hours and pretty dang hot (Cancon has many positives but being fundamentally a tin shed in the summer with a thousand gamers gaming is possibly not one of them – their air con is good, but not that good). The team building during the days and especially the evenings is awesome. It’s a great opportunity for us managers to get to know each other and our fearless leaders better. It really brings home to me the knowledge that Good Games was created and run by gamers who have an incredible passion for our hobby.
As much as i love the team building this weekend represents, i love meeting and catching up with the hundreds of gamers at Cancon even more. I have played many games and been a part of many gaming groups over the years and it sometimes seems like gamers from every single part of my gaming life find their way to my corner of our stall to say hello. A big shout out to Deon, great bloke and local Infinity player. Deon organised the Infinity tournament this year and through his passion and energy it was one of the largest ever held in the southern hemisphere. My store’s regular Warmachine and Hordes players battled it it out with the nation’s best and once again terrorised the top tables (dang, they are good players!).There were Good Games Town Hall regular gamers in almost event this year and it felt really good to see them gaming and having fun (also explained why my store was a little quieter 😛 ). As a game store manager, it makes you feel like you must be doing something right when they take time out of their convention time to stop, smile and ask how the weekend is doing.
Not to be outdone, my home town Newcastle had a massive contingent of gamers down in the capital and great to see the lads. It never ceases to amaze me how many still remember a younger me gaming with them or running tournaments.This year’s surprise visit highlight came from my old year 8 high school English teacher Mr Wright, possibly the man who is the most to blame for my continued gaming passion. I still remember him handing my first black and white MilSims catalog… Gaming seriously changes lives, and i believe for the better.
Cancon was a great experience and really satisfied the gamer, enthused shopper and retailer in me. Many happy memories originate for me at Cancon and other gaming conventions and if my ramble has piqued your interest at all i highly recommend you join me next year for Cancon’s 40th year.