ConGame – Or How I Spend My Time When Unemployed

No, I haven’t become a grifter, although I can see how you might think that from the title.

I’m between jobs at the moment – not for the first time- and I’ve learned two irrefutable facts from previous bouts of unemployment. 1) You can’t job-hunt every waking moment of the day 2) You need something to occupy yourself in between bouts of job-hunting-related activities so that you don’t dissolve into a tail-chasing nervous wreck.

I’ve a couple of creative projects on the mental stovetop right now: Fabric For Cosplayers and ConGame. FFC has reached the point where I need access to video production facilities and a small crew in order to move forward. I don’t have money to burn, obviously, so that means I’ve turned my attention to ConGame.

ConGame is a card game borne of one part mischief, one part bitchiness and three parts’ desire to stop well-meaning idiots from making a terrible mistake. What mistake, dear reader? The mistake of thinking that anyone can run an SF/media convention solely on the basis of having attended a bunch of them as a regular attendee. As my SF geekiness* becomes mainstream and more conventions pop up, more and more often, I hear someone – usually a disgruntled someone – say “Pssht, I could run a better con than this. How hard can it be? I organized my own wedding, and that had 300 guests, too!”

With luck, ConGame will give such folks an idea of what they would be letting themselves in for, without driving them $25,000 into debt. And, these days, $25K is getting off lightly!

What started off as a bit of a joke has now taken up at least 100 hours of my time and given me a reason to learn the basics of InDesign. I’ve also read several hundred I swear this really happened stories of convention craziness and endured several rounds of this design really sucks, start over! Given that I’m not a designer, I’m not surprised by the stop-and-go-back nature of the project so far but, wow, I’m ready for it to go to play test.

Of course it’s going to be play tested. I’ve never written a card game before and my math skills are about on par with a sixth grader** so I absolutely have to let this baby on which I’ve spent dozens of hours get torn apart by a bunch of strangers, in the hope that the remains can be reassembled into something more beautiful. At the moment, it’s just 300 cards and a bunch of words that I hope will make sense to someone other than myself…

But it keeps me from languishing in bed all day – well, except for that one day when the brain weasels were really bad and I decide to emulate a house cat instead of a human – and there’s a tiny little chance that maybe I can get people to pay for the thing when all is said and done. And when one is unemployed, anything that brings in dosh is ultimately justifiable. Well, almost anything.

*stop trying to auto-correct that to meekness, Apple!

**Thank you, Cinema Program of SFSU!

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