It was the year 2000, I was young (25 years old), I was single, I was living in Paris and I had never been to a con. I had heard stories of the D&D tournament where the rogue backstabbed everyone and "won". I had heard stories about fights breaking out over the game. In short, I heard of the horror, but never actually attended one.
So that weekend in April of 2000, I decided to bite the bullet, take a few friends with me and attend a convention. A few friends (Stéphane and Marie) were from the city of Amiens, heard of an event there are sold it to me. The event, called "Voyage au Centre de l'Imaginaire" (Voyage to the center of imagination). I let myself be convinced and on that Saturday morning, four of us (Marie, Stéphane and David (aka Déesse, Bibi)), met at the Gare du Nord and our expedition begin for real.
We were a bit early so we ate, did some shopping and then headed to the site.
To my (happy) surprise, it was set in an old chateau. Only a few games were running (we arrived mid-slot), so I stood and watched a 15mm Napoleonic battle using the "De Bonaparte a Napoleon" (a DBX-variant). This was the first time that I met a number of fellow wargamers all gathered together in one place. I was hypnotized and just looked at them play for a long time.
Finally, time came for my own games to start. I played a very awesome Delta Green scenario, a great adventure taken right out of the X-File. I have since run the adventure a number of times, to my own enjoyment. Through the night, I played some Legend of the Five Rings, again a good time. Sunday, I played in a 40k tournament, my first one ever and I placed in the middle of the pack (bad dice suck). But I managed to snag me a tank for my efforts! Good times!
So... How did that con forever affected my views of other events?
First, it had six hour game slots. Yes, you heard right: SIX HOURS. Those were AWESOME. I know this is not the norm in most English-speaking areas (as I was to learn when I moved to Ireland). In that time, I felt like I could play a full campaign and make it meaningful.
Second, it had round-the-clock gaming (though most people retired from 4-8am), as I roamed the grounds and froze my rear end.
Second-A, sleep during cons. That one I spent years not listening to my own advice, but sleep is good. Sleep is your friend.
Third, midnight madness games are great! Unlike organized play where you should ideally remember stuff, one-shots at midnight are very funny... as long as the GM can stay awake. My midnight GM at VCI was awake.
As an aside of interest, while I was researching for this post (remembering), I managed to find a post-con report where they specifically mention me! Woohoo! Check out the post Yes, its only in French (for which I cannot apologize).
To this day, VCI ranks as one of the best event I ever attended. Sure there were others, but you never forget your first love.
Mine was in Amiens...