We are going to go uber-meta and a little personal now, and talk about celebrating with our gaming friends. Over the years I've been around many different types of groups, from childhood through college into adulthood. I was closer to some of the people in certain groups than others. Each of these groups provided me with different types of non-game relationships. When I was a teen my friends and I did most of the same things as other teens. We would go to the movies, or to each other’s birthday parties. I can't say much for doing anything too outlandish, as we were military brats and were raised to behave ourselves, but our times outside the game were just as important in forming our relationships as the games themselves.
My college gaming days were pretty laid-back. Most often we would gather for movie nights or enjoy lunch together after a long gaming session. I must admit that we drank, though we didn’t party or do much more than chat. After college, my groups tended to center around the local gaming stores. Often we would just hang out after the game, with no particular agenda. Other times we would go out for late-night food and drink, talking about our games and our plans. It all depended on what was available to the group and the amount of time we could spend together.
Another form of non-gaming activity (or meta-gaming activity) is the game convention. When I was younger I would go to these regularly, but I haven't had much chance to do that recently, and lately I've grown to miss them. Conventions are huge in our community, I probably don't need to tell you. Gen Con is the big one to go to for new products, while Origins is the one where game awards are given out. Besides these national conventions there are many more at the local, state and regional levels. Some cons are held on college campuses, others at convention centers. Of all the ways you can hang out with other gamers, conventions seem to be the most ritualized.
Activities at most gaming conventions are divided between gaming, panels and the exhibition floor. Convention-goers tend to be familiar with the various different rituals scattered around the convention. We know to be respectful at the panels, to follow the rules about sign-in sheets for games, and of course we all participate in the buying and selling rituals of capitalism in the exhibit space. Outside of the convention hall there are dinners and parties. Some conventions have even more of a social focus, including such activities as dances.
No matter where or when, I have found that spending time away from the gaming table with my fellow gamers helps us to cultivate our friendships and expand our gaming knowledge. Celebrate with your gaming friends, even when you're not sitting around the table, and your time together will only get better.