Monday, August 20, 2012

Back from Gen Con!

Author cosplaying Oracle, using blue wheelchair, wearing black Batman logo shirt with brown cargo pants & headset, posed with Jennie Breeden wearing red plaid kilt, green shirt, & funky boots
Me cosplaying as Oracle posing with Jennie Breeden of the Devil's Panties
I just got back from Gen Con (aka the "best four days of gaming") and I'm exhausted.  I thankfully had some pretty uneventful flights with Delta Airlines (so I probably won't be posting a "Flying with Wheels" post about them like I did for US Airways & United...and I'm pretty happy about it).

This was my first Gen Con, and it was pretty exciting.  Because of my experience with using my cane at CONvergence, I decided to just bring my wheelchair.  I'm really glad I did, even though the carpet in both the hotel & the convention center were hell on my shoulders.  This was the biggest con I've ever attended (at least 5 times bigger than CONvergence) and was spread out over the entire Indiana Convention Center plus all of the neighboring hotels. 

Silver & green scalemail dice bag with black drawstring
I made this scalemail dice bag!
Trying to alternate between wheels & a cane just wasn't going to happen because of distance.  I also wouldn't be able to guarantee when I was going to suddenly run out of spoons, something that could have kept me from attending events that I had prepaid for (like a Shadowrun Missions game, a Pathfinder Society game, a NASCRAG charity game, and a scalemail dice bag crafting workshop).  I also didn't want to be doped up on pain medication because it impacts my cognition & creativity...traits that I need to have fun while gaming.

Bringing the wheelchair also gave me a quick and dirty way to do a little cosplay, something I've wanted to do for a while but hadn't managed to put together a costume that is flying-friendly.  Armed with my wheels, a Batman logo shirt, a headset, and my iPad with Batman logo on the back, I cosplayed Oracle, aka Barbara Gordon.  She's one of the few comic book characters that uses a wheelchair (the only other one that comes to mind is Professor X from the X-Men comics).  Since she's not generally "in the field" much like other heroes, she doesn't have a specific costume, which makes cosplaying her both easy (minimal props/outfit) and a challenge (trying to be recognizable as her instead of just a nerdy wheeler). 

Crosswalk in downtown Indianapolis with blue painted lane with wheelchair user symbol. To the left is a walking lane & a bike lane to the convention center
Crosswalk in downdown Indy with accessible lane
Despite the carpet, the difficulty I had finding elevators in the skyways, and the problems trying to navigate crowded halls full of distracted people, it was a pleasant trip.  There were times where I would find other wheeling folks (particularly other manual wheelchair using folks) and we would just smile at each other in between hard pushes to get down the plush carpeted hallways.  A friend that joined me for the con says that the carpet didn't feel padded from a walking standpoint, but I had to ask her to push me a few times so I wouldn't give myself a rotator cuff injury...and it led to an interesting discussion about universal design.

I also had a chance to meet a few folks that I've only met online through our shared geekery of City of Heroes (an MMORPG).  Meeting up with them was a little difficult just because of the barely accessible skyway, slow-as-molasses elevators, and the normal difficulty of navigating restaurants that have tables and chairs too close to each other for easy wheeling (I've had to learn to speak up and be more assertive to get through these's still hard for this introvert though!).

I'm planning to go back next year, finances and work willing.  I have plans for making some of the stressful things more manageable, better plans for hitting up the exhibition hall in a more relaxed way, and ideas to make the most of my time & energy without feeling trapped in a strict schedule (especially since it's the weekend before the semester starts).


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