A Seed Planted
So there was this guy named Bob. Bob was friendly, outgoing, and loved to play games. Board games, role-playing games, card games, you name it. Being smart, and fun to be around, and a very likable sort, Bob became a nexus of several otherwise unconnected groups of tabletop hobby gamers. Times were good and Bob found himself in possession of a large house with lots and lots of space. He decided to throw a big weekend-long party where his gamer friends could come and leave as they liked, playing and sharing games, and enjoying each others' food and company. And so the first BobCon was held at Bob's house in 2004. Everyone had a great time, and couldn't wait until the next one. There was talk of holding two a year.
The event outgrew Bob's house and moved to a housing association clubhouse. There was talk of finding a larger venue and becoming a proper convention, but costs and the historically casual nature of the event always kept this from becoming a reality. With each successive year, Bob's work on the convention grew and grew, and in 2009 the burden of organizing it himself became too much. Bob decided to be done with it. But because the event had been so beloved by those who attended, he sought to gather those resources together into an organizing committee that might continue the fun in his stead. And so the BobCon Council was formed from ten of the staunchest supporters of the event. BobCon continued.
BobCon developed its own event registration system and explored ways to bring in revenue throughout the year. Operations became more complex and time-consuming. Over the next few years, the Council dwindled as long-time supporters found their attentions elsewhere. And so the burdens again rested on the shoulders of a few. In 2014 a crowd-funding campaign was conceived to bring in new energy and revenues, and indeed it was a great success. For the first time, BobCon didn't' have to borrow money to pay for the event space. There were more events, prizes, and attendees than ever before; still mostly friends of friends, but with some new faces as well. In many ways, 2014 was the pinnacle of the BobCon experience. But it was also its nadir. Air conditioning problems at the clubhouse plagued the event during an unseasonably warm October. A guest was sexually assaulted by a friend someone brought along, requiring the police to be involved.
Then a serious personal injury caused one of the main organizers to take time off. The future of the event was uncertain, and 2015 came and went without a BobCon. The remaining BobCon Council members took this opportunity to soul search regarding the event and the time commitment it required. 2016 came around to find the Council had largely disbanded, its members drawn to their own interests. But the remaining few decided to give it a go, at least one last time. The event was moved to the Oak Tree Inn where an annex provided lots of space, a kitchen, and its own tables and chairs. Costs increased. A date was picked, but there were only a couple months lead time to promote the event. Some long-time attendees were unable to attend. Revenues and costs were a wash. The event was again a success, but attendance was lower than hoped, and throughout the weekend there was a sense that perhaps BobCon had run its course. One last hurrah. A farewell, of sorts.
A Page Turns
And so it is with no small measure of sadness that we put to a close, at least for now, the story of BobCon. A story that we, our friends, and our children will always look back upon with fond memories.
Supporters are encouraged to attend the much larger events that former BobCon staffers are now involved with:
- KantCon, held each summer. KantCon has a similar origin story to BobCon, having its roots in a weekend-long gamer retreat at a house in Merriam.
- Midwest GameFest, held each fall. Some BobCon organizers now lead this effort.