Two weeks ago on Wednesday at 5am I left my house and flew to the first Gen Con of my life. I’d known since I was hired by Storium that I would need to attend as a professional, but also because I knew *so* many people who go, and who were encouraging me to attend.
So, much like Blind Lady Versus posts of the past, I’ll break this down into the Good and the Bad. and the Untenable. I’ll do this in reverse order so that the read is bearable for everyone.
The injuries. People, if you’re carrying a large weapon like say, a giant hammer, please be careful with where it goes. I got hit twice because I can’t see. I am not responsible for when you hit me, that is YOUR responsibility.
I had a man drop his ticket while I was taking it during the burlesque show ticket taking, and he looked up my skirt. That was not okay. That was in fact, totally terrifying. Between that and back pain, I was just. I was done.
These two things boil down to a very simple lesson that you should have learned in kindergarten: Keep your hands, weapons and eyes TO YOURSELF.
So, I was on two panels at GenCon, and then I had a class. The panels were great, relatively well attended, and I got to talk about disability and cultural appropriation with a lot of lovely people.
And then there was my class. My class was attended by two people, and then a third. And they were all people I knew. I’d had several more people signed up for the class, and it was definitely a disappointment and painful to not have everyone show up.
But then…. A Name walked into my class. And he agreed with everything that I was saying, and so did his fellow panelist. You see, they had a panel right after mine, a panel that was very well attended as evidenced by the people I walked past. And not only did the both of them agree with me, but they *want me to get hired to write a thing*. I’m not naming names because that gets into guilting people to make phonecalls. But I hope he does.
THE CON FLOOR IS HELL ON EARTH. Here’s the thing, I love getting new games, but I didn’t buy any this year because it was too hard to just get the t shirts I wanted and the one RPG I found that I liked. Also, large print dice. It is even more hell on earth when you experience the asshole stares which I did when I was with my cripple friends. Two ladies holding hands while carrying canes is apparently a novelty. Two ladies, one with a white cane, the other a wheelchair user, in matching t shirts, smiling is apparently worth staring at. If you’re going to treat us like a freakshow, please pay.
And speaking of staring, please consider that I get to skip the line at Gen Con to pick up my badge for reasons. Don’t glare at me because I get to use the special services desk. There’s a reason. And trust me, that reason is totally valid.
There was a lot of good. From large print character sheets from my GM for SnarkWorld, to meeting people, to pitching a publisher on the side of the street, to being told that I am doing the work people want to see done – it was good. It was amazing. I cried more than once from joy.
I got to sign with a Deaf gamer (whose name and twitter handle I couldn’t recall because we were in a loud room AND I’M HoH! IRONY.) I was reminded later that his twitter account is @alpharalpha. You should follow him for Deaf culture things.
In fact, I saw LOTS of people with disabilities. I saw amputees, I saw wheelchair users, I saw tons of service dogs (next year Miss Julep will go with me), and the really exciting part for me was that I didn’t know them all. But I want to.
What I came away with from Gen Con was inspiration. I came away knowing that I am starting to make a difference, and that the differences I’m making will continue to become bigger and better – I do have a place in this industry, even when people tell me I don’t. Even when I come home to hate mail, or when someone calls me a “deaf, dumb, blind bitch” on the con floor (yes, that happened.) Next year, I want to teach again. Next year, I hope for a better time slot and more seats filled. Next year, I want to do a disability caucus for disabled gamers.
And I just might be writing things that are a part of this whole topic… So onwards.
BLIND LADY VERSUS
So, it’s with all that in mind that I want to make an announcement!
I’ve created a Blind Lady Versus patreon. I want to continue reviewing games, cons, and experiences in order to make gaming a more accessible space for everyone. Please consider donating even a dollar once a month.