If I Ran the Con

A reality role playing game created by Leslie Turek, Mark Olson, Priscilla Olson and Alexis Layton and first played at SMOFCon 3 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The game simulates the life-cycle of a worldcon, including bidding, planning, and running the convention. Originally published by MCFI, the game would eventually be published by NESFA Press and go into a second edition and later an expanded third edition as part of Turek's GoHship at Sasquan in 2015.

The game had a surprisingly strong impact on con-running, probably because it succeeded in balancing experience with humor.

The game is in three phases: Bidding, Planning and Running, which closely follow the life cycle of a real Worldcon. Players are divided into committees who are faced with scenarios (e.g., "Crime in the Streets" in which a bidder must decide how to respond to rumors that their site is dangerous, or "The Big Premier" where the con gets a lat offer to host a major movie premier — with conditions) and they must work their way through them. In each case, the committee is presented with information and a series of choices, and depending on what they choose, they must make further decisions.

(Part of the fun of the game is that nearly all the scenarios really happened, though the serial numbers are filed off to a greater or lesser extent to protect the guilty…)

Key to the game are People Points, Money Points and Goodwill Points, and decisions cause the gain or loss of them — and frequently, some choices are not possible for want of the right kind of points.

  • Money Points are obvious and reflect the conventions' finances. Doing expensive things costs Money Points.
  • People Points reflect the fact that all conventions are run by volunteers, and doing one thing may well use up the available people and preclude doing others.
  • Goodwill Points are probably the most innovative thing in the game and reflects that the goodwill fandom holds or doesn't hold to the convention controls what the convention can do and what fandom's response will be. If you have Goodwill Points, fandom will forgive your mistakes; if you don't it won't forgive your successes.

The final score is computed as follows:

  1. Start with the number of Goodwill points (positive or negative)
  2. If Financial points are negative, add them to the score. (It’s not good to lose money.)
  3. If Financial points are positive, divide them by 3 and subtract from the score. (It’s not good to make too much money — it should have been spent ont he con.)
  4. If People points are negative, add them to the score. (It’s not good to overwork your people.)
  5. If People points are positive, divide them by 3 and add to the score. (If you have lots of helpers, they all have fun.)