Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do Butts Laugh?

Here in the Indy metro area (don't laugh--we're a population of over 1.6 million and growing) we are privileged to have Gen Con come to downtown Indianapolis every year. Gen Con is an excuse for grown men and women to dress up in their favorite Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Dungeons & Dragons, etc., costume and walk around town into the wee hours of the night (or morning) pretending to be that character. It's like Halloween for grown ups but taken to another level.

These folks are easy targets to make fun of. And while I'm sure that deep down inside many of them are normal people with jobs, marriages, kids, action figure doll collections and the like, I thrive on easy targets. Furthermore, I cannot pass up the childish opportunity to make fun of someone just based on their last name. Thus the question, "Do butts laugh?". And if they do, what does it sound like (we probably know the answer to that question).

You can read about Gen Con it in today's Indianapolis Star. For your convenience, I've pasted the story below. I've taken the liberty of emphasizing the last name that I'm referring to. Enjoy!

Gen Con draws gamers to Indy

It's nearing midnight, and the most serious gamers at Gen Con are getting a second wind.

They're fairly easy to spot in their dark T-shirts and backpacks as they traipse along Downtown streets in search of games, cheap eats, caffeine and beer. They're also fairly friendly, although they might growl while sitting with others in a circle or speak in a language that's unintelligible to nongamers. ("I play LARPs," for example.)

This is the part of Gen Con most people never see. But many attendees swear it's the best part of this weekend's annual gathering of 85,000 gamers and fans of science fiction and fantasy.

Every night, from about 9 p.m. to about 4 a.m., Todd Wiley and his friends grab passers-by to sit in a circle on the floor and play a game called "Werewolf." It's a role-playing game in which some characters pretend to be werewolves, others humans, with survival being the goal.

Each circle makes for a noisy, growling bunch and usually draws a crowd of onlookers.

"It's easiest to get people to play at night," Wiley said early Friday between games.

Neil Swint, who traveled by bus from Toronto, said that every time he comes to Gen Con, he picks one day to stay up for 24 hours.

"I'm not coming here to sleep," he said during a break at RAM Restaurant & Brewery.

Mary Ann Scheiderich, Syracuse, N.Y., agreed: "When you go home from Gen Con, you are not relaxed. It's no trip to the beach. You're exhausted."

Erick Butzlaff explained that it's the games -- even more than energy drinks -- that keep people going.

"We've stayed up all night playing the same thing," the Washington, D.C., resident said. "The reason we don't want to go to bed is we're playing the same thing."

The card games he plays are addictive and fun. Still, he said there are lines he won't cross.

"You see some really weird things around here. I saw a chick sleeping on a ledge of a window with a blanket," Butzlaff said. "I have slept against a wall waiting for people to get done (playing), but I've never used a blanket."

Some attendees, in fact, don't get hotel rooms at all. They spend all four days playing games and sleeping on couches and floors.

By Sunday, not surprisingly, the Indiana Convention Center can smell pretty ripe.

"We stay away from those people," Butzlaff said, getting eager nods from his friends Tony Davila and Travis Chapa.

The three were awaiting their turn in a tournament inside the Hyatt Regency. Around them, others sipped energy drinks and ate takeout, and dug in their backpacks for cards and dice.

Waiting for tournament games to begin is a big part of late-night Gen Con. Tables are set up inside the convention center, but nearby hotels, such as the Hyatt and Westin, get most of the traffic.

Food is a big deal, too.

But gamers don't go just anywhere. They want cheap and fast. No St. Elmo's. Heck, not even Houlihan's.

Steak n Shake is usually the place to be. By 10:30 p.m. Thursday, there was line out of the door. RAM was packed, too. The restaurant extended its hours to 3 a.m. and added new beers to the menu solely for the convention.

"We really cater to Gen Con," said bartender Amelia Briggs, nonplussed by a gamer taking a nap at the bar just after midnight.

Chris Johnson, a gamer from Oregon, Ill., said the crowd is one reason he's not an all-nighter -- a burger and fries aren't worth an hour wait in line at McDonald's.

Besides, he had another LARP (that's live action role-playing game) to prepare for on Friday.

By 3 a.m., when Johnson was probably fast asleep, much of the carnival that is Gen Con after dark had started to die down.

Even Chris Brickey, who had been selling light-up swords and wands between Steak n Shake and the convention center, had moved on.

On the streets, only a trio were left, one stumbling more than the other two near Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. He had on gray wings trimmed in red lights.

"Happy Gen Con!" he shouted.
Happy Gen Con to you all, indeed!


elephantschild said...

"You see some really weird things around here..." Butzlaff said. "I have slept against a wall waiting for people to get done (playing), but I've never used a blanket."

Apparently, it's the use of a blanket that's really gotten Mr. Butzlaff weirded out.

Randy said...

Is that anything like, "laughing your a** off?" Just curious Doofus!

Rebekah said...

I bet he had a very hard time in high school

Toni said...

By Sunday, not surprisingly, the Indiana Convention Center can smell pretty ripe.

I knew there was a reason we chose to move to Indy over Dallas. It was the ripe factor.

Hunny Bee May said...

LOL. Butts. Laugh.

Poor guy.

Uvulapie said...

As an employee at a tech-firm it's been interesting to observe the Geek in it's natural surroundings. A few maintain their youthful vigor throughout their lives but an amazingly large number of them decide to take wives and generate small clones of themselves. Then, ever so slowly, the Geek tendencies fade away. Weekends of solid gaming pare down to one or two hours a week, the role playing games get boxed up and stashed in a closet behind the dusty ice cream maker, and the spandex superhero costumes only come out for Super Hero Day at work.

scott said...

Darn, did I miss the convention? I got my Princess Leia metal bikini out to wear this year...

erick said...

actually it was middle school that was harder for me; and, concerning the blanket bit, i was definitely a victim of selective quoting on the part of that reporter :-P

Big Doofus said...

Could it really be that THE Mr. Erick Butzlaff left a comment on this blog entry? You make the call.

It all reminded me that it's important to remember that these are REAL people we are dealing with. If it really was Erick, then he has an awesome sense of humor about his name and life in general.

I should come clean and readily admit that I was a role-playing game fanatic from about Jr. High through at least part of High School. I played a few times after graduating from college but don't spend time at it these days. Honestly, it can be really fun.

Erick, if that was really you, please let us know somehow.