JOFCon, part 2: Gaming

Mnstf traditionally has a fallcon, usually in October or so. This was, for a long time, called the fall Minicon, which is part of why Minicon 51 is not actually the 51st anniversary of Minicon. Anyway, most years, there’s a Mnstf fallcon, and it’s usually a relaxacon.

Running the fallcon is approximately as stressful for its conrunners as Minicon itself. Though the scale of the fallcon is far smaller than Minicon (frequently fewer than a hundred people), the number of staff members also tends to be smaller, so the stress levels are unfortunately preserved. For that reason, few people in recent history have wanted to run the fallcon more than twice in a row. And partly because of that, when Michael Lee and some other folks wanted to run JOFCon on a weekend that normally would’ve been the Mnstf fallcon, the Mnstf board were quite willing to let that happen.

As a result, quite a few who went to JOFCon were mostly there for the fallcon part of it, more than the conrunning part. And therefore, in addition to the conrunning track, there was a large amount of gaming going on. (As I’ve said elsewhere, Mnstf is, in terms of total time spent doing various activities, largely about gaming these days.) I got to participate in some of it. Here’s what I played:

  • Concept: This is basically charades done on a board. There are a bunch of abstract or not so abstract things illustrated on the game board: a night sky, a sun, many modes of transportation, arrows indicating ‘up’ and ‘down’, etc. etc. You get a single person, place or thing to illustrate, and then place counters on various concepts to illustrate what you’re trying to get across. While you’re doing so, you’re not supposed to talk. There’s apparently some kind of official competitive rules to it, but the folks I play it with have never played it that way; instead, we just try to see how well or interestingly we can get the concepts across. It’s pretty fun. I once got my fellow players to guess my target by just rapidly tapping the counter on the “sun” icon — can you guess what concept I was trying to illustrate?
  • Logo for Spaceteam

  • Spaceteam: Even since I discovered this game, during my research into simultaneous cooperative starship bridge simulators, I’ve been wanting to play it more. I’ve played a couple quick sessions, but I played far more than ever before (probably a couple hours total) at JOFCon. Once we got it installed on our phones and finally got our various devices to connect with each other (which took a little too long, to be honest), we had a raucous time. While it is possible to play this “cooperative shouting game” game without constantly raising the volume, it is very unlikely; the game quickly becomes semi-competitive, with everyone trying to get everyone else to pay attention to their increasingly-desperate cries to “engage fluxstack”, “set Eigenhash to 2” or “caramelize onions”. Frequently interpolated with quick, embarrassed admissions of “Oh, that’s mine” and demands that everyone shake their device to avoid an asteroid. It’s a very tense game, actually, but it’s also quite fun.

    Playing it this time, I learned a couple things: not only can you repair dangling panels by swiveling them carefully back into place, you can wipe away goo that starts to accumulate as your panels get into increasing disrepair. And the game seems to require that everyone be running the same (i.e., most up-to-date) version to connect successfully.

    In the games at JOFCon, I think the most hilarious command we had was to “eulogize previous crew”. All in all, Spaceteam is a lot of fun, and a great game, and one that I will try to get more of my gaming friends to play in the future.

  • Moneyduck: As usual, this local variant on EPYC was hilarious, enjoyable and very difficult to present in blog terms. I don’t even remember any of the particularly great lines, save again having confirmation that Emily is a great cartoonist.

I saw other folks playing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which looked quite good, but I wasn’t in the right mood at the right time to play it. I’ll note, though, that it was another game that uses digital components to interface with friends face-to-face. Along with Spaceteam, it’s another example of games that combine analog/face-to-face interaction with digital interaction, and it’s interesting to see what creators are exploding exploring in this field.

There were probably about as many people involved in gaming at any given time as in programming. The gaming was quite fun, and good when I needed a respite from heavy conrunning conversations.


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