In 2013, JustUs Productions (the guys behind this web site and gaming cons like MACE in Charlotte, NC) was asked to run gaming at a con in Columbia, SC called RoundCon (RC). RC has been around for 20+ years, first started by a gaming club out of the University of South Carolina. Sean Martinez has been the guy behind RoundCon for several years now. Some time ago, Sean took over the con from the ailing gaming club and turned into his own business.
In all truth, RoundCon has struggled in many areas over the last few years. It has not had consistent dates for several years, which is a big no-no in the con business. It also has struggled with an identity crisis. Sean has two major interests. Gaming is one of them; anime is the other. He has tried to satisfy both passions by having both at his con. However, one or the other has suffered each year. Some gamers got turned off by the inconsistent gaming and some were put off by the increase focus on anime. From a gaming point of view, RoundCon was going to be a total rebuild for us from the start.
Rebuilding gaming for a con like this takes a lot of work and a lot of disappointments at first. Gamers will only believe it when they see it, so the first year was just going to be a building year to show gamers that it can be possible to rebuild gaming at a con that has struggled in the past. You can promise the moon to gamers but until they see the consistent schedule, the games being played, and the passion behind making it work, they won’t show. So at the very least, we knew not to expect a huge turnout for the first year of a rebuild.
There were also other circumstances that made things difficult for RoundCon gaming and, without getting into too much detail, just know that RoundCon had a lot to overcome. On top of that, Sean had to make the difficult decision to move his con 3 weeks before the con. That is a huge no-no, but fortunately we were able to work with him and help him move it across the street so it was not a huge move.
This year for us has been a lesson is humility, in perseverance, and in patience. We got through the adversity and at least for the first day, despite the thin schedule, we had a pretty good turn out. With the change in venue, I had to whittle everything down to 25 tables. All games made, for the most part. Most, if not all, gamers seemed happy and had a good time. Also, there were very little fires to put out.
The best thing was the energy. Gamers saw and they believed. The energy for RoundCon gaming was up and even though they didn’t see as much on the schedule as I would like this year, they know they will see more next year. I made good contacts with people that are willing to support gaming in this community and go beyond personal politics. Next year has a lot more potential now. I have to admit, early on, the adversity had really effected my spirits but as the con went on, I felt much better. I think we have a lot to look forward to.
I had a combination of anticipation and dread going into the second day of RoundCon. Saturday for three day weekend cons are usually the peak days, where the con gets a lot of one day-pass traffic. I really did not feel I had enough on the schedule to keep people happy. And as it turns out, I was right. However, that turned out to be a good thing. It gave me the opportunity to (1) explain to them our plans for the future and (2) push MACE and our other events. For what it is was, Saturday was a really good day. I was very surprised. More than two-thirds of the tables made and there were many pick up games. The energy in the room was very tangible; people were enjoying themselves and dice and cards were being thrown everywhere.
Bottom line, RoundCon was a small gaming event as compared to many others. I figure we had maybe 75 to 100 gamers, yet much can be learned from the challenges we faced. RoundCon has a lot of history and with that comes a lot of baggage. Even the larger cons like DragonCon have baggage. This baggage can manifest in many ways. In the case of RoundCon, it amounted to bad politics and a divided local gaming community. We at JustUs Productions were not involved in these politics which made us an ideal group to help out. Working hard to find people outside of the division and outside the politics was the priority. Not being in the area made it difficult but we made up for it with all the networking we did onsite.
Despite all the adversity and challenges we faced, RoundCon still has a lot of potential and next year will only grow. We had a lot of fun with many of the faithful willing to come out to game with us. With their help, RoundCon gaming will return to what it was. JustUs Productions looks forward to working with them in the future.