by Rob Balder
November 4–6, 2011
Madison, South Dakota
Nanocon is a rare hybrid convention: an academic gaming con! Dakota State University offers a bachelors program in Computer Game Design, and combines a weekend of standard tabletop and LAN gaming with an excellent array of professional speakers from the game industry and academia.
I was honored to be the keynote speaker. The topic of my talk was “Choosing Independent Creator as a Career Path,” though most of the other presentations were more in line with the “Horror Gaming” theme of this year’s event. Programmers, developers and publishers spoke on a number of ludological topics such as how to classify horror games, building a narrative through gameplay, and creating valid female characters in video games.
At 436 attendees, the event was a major success for the DSU Gaming Club—blowing by their targeted attendance of 350. Most of the convention events took place in the Gaming and Dealer’s Room and the auditorium of the Dakota Prairie Playhouse. To anyone who has been to a large gaming con, that may not sound huge, but consider that Madison is out in the middle of the prairie. It was a 45-minute drive (as 40 MPH winds blew over the fallow cornfields) to the nearest Walmart. This was a fun event for students and participants, and I was glad to be a part of it.