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Natural20's Random Thought Table - Last Chance to Confess! Print
Written by Brian Nisbet   
Aug 28, 2009 at 09:46 AM
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Natural20's Random Thought Table - Last Chance to Confess!
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Brian tells us all about the history of ConFESS, and why you should go!

Seven or so years ago, the Flat Earth Games Society, a group of people in Sligo, decided to run a con. There were quite a few other cons in Ireland at the time, but none in the north-west and none between the summer and Gaelcon. They'd run a couple of games days previous to this, they had big ideas and lots of enthusiasm, so what could possibly go wrong? The answer, a few weeks before their final con in Sligo on the weekend of the 18th of September is, very little!

I wanted to write a piece about Confess and the Flat Earthers, partially to try and encourage more people to head up to Sligo for their last hurrah and partially to celebrate what they've done over the last few years. Their successes, and their failures, also provide useful pointers to anyone thinking about running their own event and looking back it's pretty clear why Confess worked so well. First off, and most importantly, the whole Flat Earth bunch were great and friendly people. Now, I've never been privy to committee meetings or internal conversations, but I'm willing to bet there was the odd falling out now and again, however to the outside world here were a bunch of friendly, enthusiastic gamers who wanted to run an event and do something for the hobby. The other key word in there, after friendly, is enthusiastic. You couldn't miss the Flat Earth Soc at a con. They had very obvious white t-shirts, they ran and played games, they were active socially and you could see they were doing what they did because they loved it. It's difficult not to get excited by such enthusiasm and it gave them an excellent starting point to try and convince people to come to Sligo for their con.

Of course they weren't relying on enthusiasm alone. As I mentioned, they had really obvious t-shirts with individualised slogans on the back and they were white, which is unusual enough at a con. And they advertised, oh how they advertised. They talked to people, telling them about the con, they had a website and flyers all over the place. They talked to writers and got them interested and every opportunity they got they told the community how wonderful the event was going to be. They also posted to mailing lists and forums and made sure nobody forgot what was going to be happening that weekend. It was difficult to miss what was going on that weekend, so a reasonably bunch of us all decided to go.

And when we got to the con proper we weren't disappointed. No, Confess wasn't Warpcon or Gaelcon. It wasn't intended to be and I don't think it was ever going to be, but it was a well run, fresh, enthusiastic con. There were games, there were people and there was fun, all in sufficient quantities. They reached the critical mass that pushes event over "a bunch of people in a hall playing games" to "con" in my head and the level of enjoyment was such that you could tell it was going to happen again. Those of us who traveled really felt welcome and there was a great sense of community, something that was to persist over the years.

And the years passed by. The con moved a couple of times, most famously to the Clarion Hotel in Sligo, a hotel built around an old mental hospital with some truly strange architecture. The freshness was kept, as was the sense of community and the quality level of the games remained similarly high. There were a few glitches, of course. Sometimes games didn't run, sometimes there were organisational screw-ups, but nothing major and nothing that hasn't happened at every other event. The only time I can remember the Flat Earthers making a decision I really didn't agree with was with the pub quiz in the Clarion. Every ticket was numbered and each table had four random numbers at it. The aim was to mix up all the players to even out skill and get people to meet other people. Sadly many of the gamers there, me included, hated the idea with a passion. We felt that pub quizzes were as much about drinking with your friends as they were answering questions, so we decided to game the system. A quick hunt around found the eight numbers of the two tables who wanted to sit together and things were rapidly swapped around. This was, I should point out, after making our objections known to the con organisers. This didn't go down terribly well with some of the other people there but I certainly stand by my opinion now and I suspect I would do it again. I've never been particularly fond of forced mixing. The organisers acknowledged it was a risk, but it was a risk they were willing to take, something I didn't mind as long as they didn't get upset about our reaction. But enough about a minor blip amongst many successes. Confess pub quizzes also featured the opportunity to vote for the next round (about three pub quizzes were written, only a third or so of the rounds used) and they were consistently fun (even if we did have to trek upstairs to go to the bar!).

I have many other memories of the con, almost all happy. Whether it be watching the committee making fools of themselves in their traditional play every year, coming second in the Subbuteo final, playing many different games or having quite a few pints and great conversations I can't think of anything negative to ever associate with the event. And now, sensibly, they are winding it all up. The organisers have moved on, most of them out of Sligo. Their ability to run the con has diminished and seemingly they'd prefer not to let the con wither, rather they want to go out with a bang. I commend this. They started well and should finish well, and I think that there's a lot cons can learn from the way they've done things. If you've never been to a Confess, this is your last chance to see, and if you have been before, why not head back one last time. I'll be making my way up to Sligo to raise a glass to the Flat Earth Games Society and to the memories they've given me over the years, they deserve nothing less and a whole lot more.

Confess is running in the Sligo Southern Hotel from Friday 18th - Sunday 20th September. More details can be found at
User Comments

Comment by GUEST on 2009-08-28 11:23:08
Aww shucks. that just makes me feel all warm n' fuzzy!  

Comment by GUEST on 2009-09-07 20:30:21
thanks brian. kind words.

Comment by GUEST on 2009-09-10 16:26:17
Everyone!! Go to ConFess!! Sadly due to non countryness and work I won't make it but all the rest of you, go!! especially if you missed it til now, its your last chance. 

Comment by GUEST on 2015-11-22 08:57:29
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Last Updated ( Aug 28, 2009 at 09:47 AM )
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