In my attempt to visit as many countries as possible and met as many gamers as my brain will possibly be able to remember, this year I decided to take a couple of days and visit Conpulsion, in Edinburgh.
I could say that it was purely out of curiosity, but knowing that Phil Harris (@PhilipGHarris in Twitter) was one of the organisers and that Ian Lowson (@EmbraAgain in Twitter) was going to be there, for me it was a no-brainer. I just had to go.
Conpulsion is the oldest and biggest RPG convention in Scotland. It’s been going on for more years than I know – I think 26 – and it takes place at Teviot House, one of the many charming and truly stunning buildings property of the University of Edinburgh. As well as meaning that the building is quirky and full of history, it also means it’s very well catered for food, tables, space, more tables, drinks and more space. It is also situated in a very central location within the city, so finding it is not an issue, though parking nearby could prove challenging!
The convention has all a convention could wish for. A buy-and-sell area, a few traders, loads of role playing games, a fair few boardgames, some wargames and seminars, panels and debates.
About the traders. Don’t expect to find just the typical trader selling games. Nop! You can also find jewellery, dice bags and other funky stuff, like real and proper art drawn by real and proper artists.
Yes friends… don’t let me forget the artists who showcased their work much to the amazement of a lot of people, and contributed to the panels, withstanding the relentless questioning from the attendees.
The panels had a difference from most other panels I’ve attended to in the past in other conventions. They were very thematic and varied. I don’t mean varied just in the theme choice, but also in the panellists.
Kevin Beimers had no experience in role playing games. He’s a video game guy and has done some successful videogames for mobile platforms. His next game will be out in just a few months and his company is Italic Pig. You might be wondering what’s the point… the point is that he managed to help narrow the gap between videogames and role playing games with his input.
Sam Richards, from TweetRPG fame was also there and I will venture say he was the one giving the most original and some of the most insightful opinions and perspectives. Maybe because he was the only one there who has truly started something new like Tweet RPG. Worth keeping an eye on that lad, I tell you… he’ll get far if he can keep up the insane amount of work behind his Twitter based RPG adventures.
Having people with a very different skillset in a panel like World Building and Society Creation in games, means they can truly cast new light and help people see what the similarities between the two mediums are. And the organisers knew that. And it worked, really, really well.
They also knew how to pick their debates! Is printing media a thing of the past? Well… that was a conversation and a half.
I cannot recommend Conpulsion enough. It might not have the pull of Dragonmeet and the numbers of the UK Games Expo, but you know? That’s no bad thing.
Being able to mingle with artists like Paul Bourne, Scott Neil, Andy Hepworth and Paul Scott Canavan, authors like Iain Lowson, Stew Wilson, Sam Richards and Peter Cakebread, and videogames experts like Kevin Beimers and Luke Dicken is not an opportunity to be missed. Trust me.
Needless to say, the attendees were as friendly as you could expect and wish for. As well as the openness of the Scottish character (they even laugh in the streets!!!) they had the enthusiasm of any convention attendees and only so eager to make you feel welcome. A big plus indeed!
Despite the initial confusion with the building layout – it’ll take you an hour or so to get used to it – and a bit longer opening hours needed for the cafes to cater for everyone, a trip to Conpulsion is very well worth it.
For a TON of coverage of the convention, please visit our friends at Nearly Enough Dice. They interviewed a lot of people and recorded a lot of interviews!