Live from GenCon: Party Hard

Afterhours Saturday night is the time for the kinds of raging parties you only read about. Several LARPs had their culmination last night, in all their costumed, face-painted glory. NASCRAG crowned their mad-cap role-playing tournament winners and celebrated with an awards ceremony. Perhaps the snazziest affair was the White Wolf party, following on the heels of their “The World is Ending” pronouncement that morning.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Actually I don’t feel that fine. Time for a full disclosure here: I stayed up all night and drank myself silly, sang karaoke, watched shirtless teenagers frolic in the fountain in front of the Hyatt, and wound up dried and wrung out in the hotel restaurant trying to force down a huge plate of not-quite-ripe fruit. And so it’s possible that my memory may be less than eidetic.

As you might imagine, it rocked. The White Wolves know how to party, and they hit it hard and long. Yeah, they might get a little rowdy, but no fist-fights broke out, nothing was destroyed, and Peter Adkison‘s suite was not trashed. Much.

The classy, cleaned-up party started at nine in the beautiful Artsgarden, a large glass dome lit with rose-colored light. Drinks were free for the hardcores who wore “Time of Judgement” t-shirts. DJ Developer Justin Achilli laid down the groove at the turn tables for a few hours, and Chris McDonough, Computer Projects Director, mingled on the floor with the fans. Near the end of the party, the VIP lounge broke up and President and CEO Mike Tinney emerged.

I started to try to interview Mr. Tinney, with as much professionalism as I could muster after two Jack Daniel shots. (The second one was a *really* big pour.) “So how did you get into this gaming thing?” I asked, pointing my camera at him. Instead, the German and Hungarian translators who shared the table I busted in on started roaring with laughter and recounting previous party times in Mannheim. “This guy is amazing,” said one appreciatively of Tinney. “He can drink us under the table, and we’re Germans!”

The White Wolves (which is the way I’ll refer to both employees and friends and associates from now on) kept it up when the party, much reduced but still consuming a hefty volume of alcohol, migrated to the Hyatt. Chris McConough lugged up a karaoke machine which he apparently travels with. “He really likes karaoke,” someone explained to me. You think? Justin got things going with a Pat Benatar song, and we pretty much didn’t stop singing until the dawn.

I got the feeling that these guys do this fairly often. It’s understandable in an industry where publication pressures and money crunches can drive you to distraction. The vibe was unpretentious enjoyment, laced with just a hint of what you might call “edge”: a certain exhilerating unpredictability. They have a reputation for rowdiness with a wild streak – which sometimes gets them in a little trouble. But that’s the nature of the spirit that drives their work – passionate, wild, and a little dark.

The kind of spirit you need a good night’s rest to recover from.