Pressing the Flesh

Tabletop Scotland was a wonderful event that reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the convention scene and the hobby at large. It also contained a moment of personal revelation for me: I think that having a press pass at these events had warped my perception and enjoyment of them. 

Before I dive into that any further I would like to state that this is purely my personal experience. It is no way meant to degenerate the press pass in general or those who get them for events. Our industry needs a good relationship between the media and events in order to grow.

My personal experience of the press pass is that it comes with a weight of obligation. I realised at Tabletop Scotland that previous events I have been to where I have kindly been given a press pass, I felt that weight more keenly than I realised. I’ve written previously about the pressure that you can feel as a reviewer, but this is a different sensation, if related. It comes with an expectation of delivery, of money being invested in you in return for coverage.

Nice relaxed crew at the con

In order to lift that weight my reaction at these events was to treat my visit as a job. I would do extensive previews, arrange meetings, have a schedule, basically plan my day very tightly. I would run myself ragged getting around as many stands as possible. I wanted to feel like I had ‘earned’ the right to be there. 

Part of this is down to the impostor syndrome most folk feel from time to time. I want to feel like I belong at the convention with that press pass around my neck. That I’ve earned my place. My brain’s response to that is to see it as a job. To approach it as an obligation. At worst, a chore. 

I have still enjoyed myself at conventions and had a great time. I don’t want you to think I’ve been toiling away at the convention mines to bring you content. I now wonder how different the experience would have been without the press pass.

Tabletop Scotland felt different to me because I didn’t have the pass. Of course I still wrote about it and tested out some recording equipment. I’ll still do that work as long as it is fun, that’s the underlying principal behind what I and Jamie do. I love running the site, our Discord, and being a part of the Tabletop Community in the way that I do. The lack of a press pass literally hanging around my neck meant I felt the obligation less. I allowed myself to wander and experience the convention, play games with friends, chat to folk, and just be at the convention. I taught Oath on the Sunday morning for about 2 hours. There is no way I would have committed to that in previous years. I would have felt like I was doing a disservice to the convention.

What’s the outcome of all this introspection? For me, I’m going to be paying my own way at future conventions. It will free my brain of the obligation it had been under and I think that will lead to an improvement in the coverage the site and cast offer our audience. It will allow me to sit and play games with friends, play longer demos (though I still think you should keep them short), and make the convention experience feel a bit lighter.

For you I offer this advice. If you cover games, or are thinking about doing so, be mindful of the pressures such a pursuit can put on you, even if you aren’t fully conscious of them. It pays dividends to acknowledge your own feelings and realise that how others do things, might not be for you. Listen to yourself and talk to others who will help you hear that inner voice.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed as a content creator? Why not come and tell us about your experience on the Giant Brain Discord!

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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