Midwinter Wrap-Up: The Convention That Helped Me Find What I Wanted To Be When I Grow Up

he Midwinter Gaming Convention takes place in downtown Milwaukee usually during the 2nd weekend in January. For some reason, geeks and industry professionals descend onto the city and play games for 4 days. This year, the actual reason people would brave our winter became known. Midwinter has now moved into a spot for me professionally that will be hard to pass. It has become both a place of networking and discovery.

This was the first year for the Industry Summit, and to be very honest, it has surpassed all other conventions in what I have taken away from. Not only have I met so many amazing people within the industry, but I also learned so much. Learning that my struggles and secret wishes for support were not that far off from everyone else was comforting and I feel as if I have a new perspective when it comes to others work. The lovely Anne, owner of Daydream Productions, made sure to gather everyone’s input on what they would want to see in the future, which was great to have. I’ve been to conventions where the workshops and discussions are all the same and it gets stale.

The main take away from the summit? Celebrate others achievements and setbacks. Why setbacks, you may ask? Because failure is always an option. You can learn so much from failure that you might never notice in any other setting. And there were a lot of achievements this Midwinter, all of which I am excited about.

Kicking off my highlights of Midwinter is FetchQuest! FetchQuest is a deck building game based off the Pugmire RPG. You get to play the main characters in the book and go on adventures. The game plays well to role playing out what your character does as you fight bad guys and complete quests. It is still in the Beta phase, but even at this point, the game is very solid. The design of the cards needed some tweaking with the lettering, but looks gorgeous overall. I will be backing it on Kickstarter once it is up, so watch for that!

Next up is a super cool LARP called Sidereal Sanctuaries, which looks at social justice issues through the lens of modern fantasy. It is a gorgeous game, and has been turning a lot of heads. I’ve been watching the development and art and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here. They had their first game at Midwinter and will probably be returning next year. This game is not for the faint of heart, so come prepared, but you will leave better of then you were when you started.

Another MAJOR announcement is that Onyx Path Publishing will be publishing the second edition of Dystopia Rising! The game will feature both tabletop and larp mechanics, and expand upon the world. They are working closely with the LARP organization of the same name to incorporate as much of their world as they are able, and build off their structure. This is a huge endeavor and one that I am looking forward to seeing. This is still in super early stages of development, but it is happening, and it is good.

Saturday I got to do something really cool for the first time. I’ve had a card game in my head for some time, so I wrote it all out, got some blank cards, and started alpha testing it with a couple of people. My main concern was it being a viable card game. My secondary concern was the rules and how it affects play. This was all new to me and it was very much a positive learning experience. I made sure to get people who I trusted to give me brutally honest feedback, and while the game had some kinks to work out, they overall enjoyed it. I will continue to tweak the game and move forward with this game. I’m not sure where this will lead, but it will not be boring!

I also got to alpha test a social game for a larp setting. This game has also been in my head for some years now, and seeing it play out was really neat. Again, the players BROKE the game, and I am forever thankful for it. I’ve been calling it A Quick Game of Chess, but I might change that. It needs some revisions, but this game will be up on DriveThru at some point, which means you can adapt it for your larp! Or it can be a party game as well. I will be sharing more on this later.

Second Act has their first larp debut at Midwinter and it went very well. I helped write the plot lines and ran some scenes for players. I had a ton of fun, and I’ll let you in on a secret. That was my first time doing ST work for a LARP. Ever. I do hope it went well. I got positive feedback on the game and was told it helped them interact with the established groups of players already in the room. 

Sunday I ran several workshops and games for a bunch of Girl Scouts and kids. I did Storytelling 101, which was a total adventure. I am hoping I was able to help some young girl scouts find their way in the gaming world, and as several people stated, I look forward to having my characters face melted off by a gaggle of girls who are not afraid to go for it. Bring it on ladies!

I also ran FirstFable and Mermaid Adventures, which were both awesome games. Everyone had fun, and I even incorporated a little 6 year olds birthday into my PLOT for Mermaid Adventures. We even sang Happy Birthday as our characters to her. How neat is that?!

My loot this year was fantastic. I will be writing more on each of these as I read through them. They all caught my attentions for multiple reasons, and I fall a little more in love with them every time I see them.

Overall Midwinter is a fantastic convention. It’s growing in size every year, but is not over crowded. If you want more information, please visit their site! I look forward to next years convention and everything it entails. 

my loot!    

my loot! 

 

Goodwill and Gamers: What happens to your donations?

Full Disclosure: I am an employee of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin. My views and opinions are my own and do not reflect the views and opinions of Goodwill.

I’ve known many gamers and cosplayers/costumers who have found some amazing pieces at Goodwills across the country. It is a staple store for artists and creative types to find materials and inspiration for their works. And it makes sense. In essence, you take something that someone no longer wanted, and you turn it into something new. And the cost is generally a lot less then what you would pay for brand new. And sometimes you can even find brand new items around the stores.

One of the things I gravitated toward with Goodwill was the fact that they were a non-profit organization. My Master’s degree had a huge emphasis on ethics and service of self, which is why I felt Goodwill might be a good fit for me. They helped others through their…..well, that I wasn’t actually sure on. I knew they helped with job training, but I had no idea how they did that. Thinking on it, I had no idea what Goodwill actually did except take my old things and sell things at a very reasonable cost.

So once I started working for Goodwill, I slowly found out that not many actually know what Goodwill does. So I figured I’d write a post about my personal discoveries on Goodwill and its overall mission. This has been a continual process, and new discoveries are always being made. I’m hoping to do some further posts and interviews on this in the future, but let’s get through the biggest part.

The interaction that prompted me to investigate this further was meeting an older woman making a purchase in my store. She told me she is an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter and teacher. Her job through Goodwill is to teach non-verbal adults ASL for things like ‘toilet’ and ‘eat.’ She said it was something so simple, yet it is rare that anyone will teach an elderly person how to sign that they need to use the restroom. ASL is frequently used with younger children to help them communicate when they aren’t able to speak because they can acquire language quicker than they are able to speak it, so ASL helps them ‘show’ what they are trying to say. It never occured to me to use ASL with adults who cannot communicate, and this simple act can increase their comfort, health and quality of life. It is a seemingly small service that has a huge impact on the community. This woman was so interesting to me, and I thought it was amazing that Goodwill would provide this type of service.

The Goodwill Mission is to provide training, employment, and supportive services for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence. Without getting into extreme depth of this statement, provide a hand up, not a hand out. Goodwill is a non-profit, and the services they provide are either no cost or low cost. Goodwill does not donate their money to outside charities, instead, they employ people to provide these services. A list of services can be found on the Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin website.

There is sometimes confusion about the mission because of how it is approached. Since Goodwill does not donate to outside charities, and a lot of the mission work happens at locations outside of the retail sites. There are also meme’s on the internet sparking confusion as to where to money goes. Since Goodwill is a non-profit, their financial information is available for the public to see and you can find the 2016 financial report on their website. Charity Navigator, which looks at the financial spending and transparency of Charities, has rated Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin as a 4 star non-profit, which is their highest rating possible.

So, when you donate or purchase items from Goodwill, the money is then reinvested in the organization to support the mission service and operations that train people and provide jobs. The whole purpose of Goodwill’s mission is to help get people to a place where they can move forward. Goodwill has helped so many people with their work, and I think it is important to know how your donations or purchases go to help those in your community. Goodwill is regional as well, meaning that each regional Goodwill can determine how best to serve their area. Goodwill is unlike any other retail store, as revenue goes towards funding its mission.

So when you donate a game or purchase costume pieces, your money goes back to your community and helps local people get a hand up and empower them to better themselves. Even small purchases have huge impacts and I cannot wait to explore this further with all of you.