This was my second SHUX and I find myself once again just in awe of this community of people and gamers.
So many people have asked what the “best part” of SHUX was for me, and I don’t have a specific answer. What I have said every time is, “SHUX is just such an amazing group of fun, kind, positive, diverse humans. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why it’s one of the best weekends of the year.”
Every time I say it, I feel a bit cheap. I feel like what people want is for me to say a specific game or a thing that happened or something I saw, and there was much of that, but nothing compares to the vibe and atmosphere of the place for me.
The SUSD team deserves so much credit. For years they have lead by example and, if that hall in the Vancouver Convention Centre is any indication, they are now reaping what they have sown. Thousands of like-minded people gathering in one place to game. And not just game, but game in the style that SUSD has been advocating.
Those balloons in the hall aren’t just “Looking For Players”, they are also “Looking For Friends.” People more than overjoyed to have you sit with them to play games and, maybe more importantly, get to know each other through the game. Within five minutes, we’ve made new SHUX FRIENDS and a significant portion of my weekend was spent hugging and high-fiving people over, “SHUX FRIENDS FOREVER!”
There were many gaming highlights too, of course. I spent Friday teaching a group of five brand new players how to play Twilight Imperium. Each of those five found me later in the weekend and mentioned how fun it was. Two of them bought the game! I had lunch with two others on Saturday. By any stretch that was a success, even if my space pirates got roundly defeated after accidentally cheating the entire game (irony is teaching people how to play a game and 3/4 of the way through discover just how badly you’ve been accidentally cheating the last 6 hours)
Saturday was Steampunk Day! Any excuse to dress in a costume works for me, and I took it up If you saw somebody walking around in leather boots and corset, yellow pants, and goggles, then you saw me! I spent the day wandering and meeting people and playing games when I could. Had a glorious game of Everdell that on Sunday turned into another, purchasing the game, and yet another play. It’s just so warm and fuzzy! I love it. Also did a completely misplayed game of Treasure Island that saw a pirate find the treasure on his second turn, followed by howls of laughter at the sudden ridiculousness of it all.
One member of our group played Wavelength with the designer during the day and taught us the game over drinks in the bar that night to hours of fun. Highlights including the clue “Imhotep” for the spectrum of “Dead to Alive” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” for the spectrum of “Phantom Menace to Empire Strikes Back”.
Sunday was more wandering, more chatting. So many game demos in the exhibitor hall and countless special moments. Captain Sonar was a definite highlight. Our team, up 2 games to none and having taken no damage yet renamed our vessel, “the Invincible” and were promptly blown to smithereens. Fate, I suppose. There was the regretful goodbye after the Closing Ceremonies, and then a quiet night with early bedtime ended up in drinks until 1am, hysterics over Galaxy Trucker, and more wandering and mingling with SHUXers in the hotel bar.
It turns out that the end of that night in the bar ended up being perhaps the most meaningful moment of the whole of SHUX for me. While speaking to a group of Shux Friends at another table, one of them exclaimed, “Wait! You’re Aurora???!!”
Taken aback, I responded with a cautious, “Yes…”
He said, “I’ve heard from like 3 different people today how fun you are and how much positivity you brought to their gaming.”
And I stood there in dumbstruck silence. True to the spirit of SHUX, I don’t know that I could imagine a more meaningful or or wonderful compliment.
So thank you to everybody who came to Vancouver, shared space, played games, and were so very lovely all weekend long. Just like last year, I’ll sit on the edge of my seat awaiting the hopeful announcement of SHUX 2020 and look forward to being with you all again.