Big Bad Con 2020 – On the road again!

We’ve signed the contract and we’re very excited to announce the dates and location for Big Bad Con 2020!

October 22-25
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Old Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010

2019 was our biggest and best year ever. Between the Babble On Equity Project, the scholarship program, and the Kickstarter stretch goal guests we gave financial and logistical assistance to over 70 folks to help them attend Big Bad Con. We had over 600 events and nearly 1,000 attendees. The POC Meet & Greet was an enormously successful industry event that helped several folks find mentoring, freelance work, and even full time jobs.

2019 was also the year that we stretched into every available space the Walnut Creek Marriott had to offer, and even then there were times when folks couldn’t find a table to play a game or sit and chat. This year in reviewing our past growth we realized we either needed to cap our attendance and allow fewer folks than attended in 2019 (shrinking the con) or find a new location that could sustain our growth. When reviewing locations we evaluated them based on the following factors:

  • Guest room rate
  • Parking fees
  • Event space available
  • Cost to the convention
  • Available social gathering spaces
  • Food availability (in the hotel, nearby, and delivery)
  • Physical accessibility
  • Likelihood of maintaining power from PG&E
  • Eagerness of the hotel staff to host a convention

After several months of reviewing the attendee feedback, meeting with the board and with the staff, we signed a contract with the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, which offered us the best room rates for our attendees, has over four times the event space that the Marriott does, regularly works with gaming conventions, and is thrilled to have us.

What’s next

With the hotel settled, we still have a lot of work to do to prepare for the Kickstarter, event submission, and the growth and development of the con. In the coming months, we’ll send out updates as all of these come together.

This year will be Big Bad Con 10. We’re filled with hope and excitement for what’s to come!

2019 Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County

Letter from Feeding America

Dear Big Bad Con,

I can’t thank you enough for the incredible generosity you showed with your gift to Feeding America today. The donation you just made will help us to provide 3300 meals to families in need.

I hope that makes you feel proud. It should!

Every year the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks provides support to 40 million Americans who are battling hunger, a tremendous feat that is only possible because of the compassion and financial backing we receive from people like you.

And I’m not the only one who wants to thank you! The people we serve around the country also recorded a message that they asked me to share. I think you’ll find it heart-warming and encourage you to take a moment to watch it.

One quick request: please share your support for Feeding America on Facebook and Twitter! It’s an easy way to quickly multiply the impact of your generosity. In fact, one of the most popularly cited reasons to give to a charity or cause is because your friends and family support that cause.

Once again, please accept my deepest gratitude, on behalf of all those who will find both sustenance and hope from your gift.

Elizabeth Nielsen signature

Elizabeth Nielsen headshot Elizabeth Nielsen
Senior Vice President
Feeding America

P.S. If you have any questions regarding your gift, feel free to contact us at any time.

Transaction Summary

Contribution Date: 12/2/19
Contribution Amount: $330.00
Contribution Frequency: One-Time Gift
Tax-deductible Amount: $330.00
Tax ID: 36-3673599
No goods or services were exchanged for this contribution. All gifts may be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our Tax ID No. is 36-3673599. The IRS requires documentation for all gifts of $250 when you itemize deductions on your federal tax return.

From Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County

2019 Doctors Without Borders Donation


Donation Confirmation

Thank you for supporting Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Your generosity gives us the financial independence we need to provide emergency medical care to men, women, and children in more than 60 countries around the world.

Big Bad Con, Inc.

One-time Gift: $1,000.00
Total: $1,000.00

Doctors Without Borders has not provided in whole or part any goods or services to the above-named donor in return for this donation. Doctors Without Borders is a qualified tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 13-3433452. You will receive an official printed acknowledgement/tax receipt via postal mail approximately 3-4 weeks from the date of your gift.

To read our Commitment to our Supporters — a statement of our commitment to independent, needs-based programs, financial transparency, and effective and cost-efficient fundraising — please click here.

As a supporter we encourage you to stay connected with Doctors Without Borders online:

Thank you, again, for your donation to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). We are truly grateful for your support of our programs.

The U.S. section of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural
and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care. ©2018 MSF All rights reserved.

2019 Ella Baker Center Donation


Thank you for your donation to Ella Baker Center for Human Rights! We’re excited and honored that you’ve chosen to support us with a gift today. Please keep this receipt for your records.

To make an even bigger impact, spread the word! Tell your community why you support Ella Baker Center for Human Rights by sending an email or sharing your support on social media.

Thanks again for your help!


Transaction Date Monday, December 2, 2019 5:45 PM EST
Name Price Total
Wolf Chase on Crowdrise $645.00 $645.00
Donation $355.00 $355.00
Total Donation $1000.00 $1000.00
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
1419 34th Ave, Suite 202  | Oakland, California 94601
510.428.3939 |

Jeeyon Shim’s Keynote Speech

On Thursday evening, the welcoming the welcoming ceremonies kicked off and Jeeyon Shim gave this beautiful keynote speech.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jeeyon Shim. I write games. I also teach as an outdoor educator, my main focus being traditional survival skills and stewardship, and I primarily teach children. I will be speaking to you about my feelings on stewardship, courage, and joy, and the vital place these values have here in our community and beyond it.

When you work with children one of the first things you learn are your own limits in the face of the unknown. When you work outdoors, one of the first things you learn is that if you do not adapt to the unknown you will be at its mercy. In my experience working with both children and the outdoors, I’ve learned that the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind and the quality of your teaching is to plan, sure, and then let all your expectations float away, because no matter how meticulously you lay out the day’s program all it takes is, say, a single wasp to undo everything you’ve worked for. Change is the only constant.

And I feel like we are all embodying that spirit of adaptability here this weekend, in the best of ways. The convention has barely started and already this entire community rallied together in the face of unforeseen circumstance to show up for each other. The power outage turned out to be utterly mangeable, and while the prospect of its worst case scenario was not one to savor and I am grateful to not play it out, there is a part of me that was delighted to see how ready and eager all of us are, in the face of crisis, to steward this space, to steward ourselves, and to steward this beautiful group of people who are all here out of love for our collective imagination and creative power.

To me, stewardship means — above all else — acting in service to the whole. We act as stewards when we recognize that we are a single part of rich, complex, balanced systems; and that our own idea of what it means to be helpful needs to be tempered by truth: through learning the true needs of those systems, the true nature of things, including each other, including ourselves, it is only through that process that we are able to live through stewardship.

When European colonizers first arrived in California from Spain, they referred to the land as an Eden, they saw indigenous communities as innocents wandering in to the gardens of God. What they did not see, refused and could not see, was that the bounty and abundance of the land was the result of generations of indigenous communities actively tending, pruning, symbiosis and coexistence passed down through mentorship and experience from one set of elders to the young, and so on and so on, until the line was violently severed. The fires that now dictate our seasons here are the direct descendant of colonization, and while they are an extreme example of what can happen when values of stewardship are cast aside, I cannot help but think of it now, thinking about how the threat of those fires could have impacted our lives for the next three days.

You cannot tell a child, “Be a good steward,” and expect to get anything fruitful from them. Instead you must say, “When you eat, make sure you do not leave anything behind. When you run in play, make sure you trample no nests underfoot. When you rest, make sure you know where I am, that you may find me once you feel better.” When you work with children you have to break down complex processes into every constituent part. I think that is worth remembering over the next three days.

Fundamentally, I think all the skills I teach, and try to weave into my work here, focus on two core states: courage and joy.

Courage is the resolve to face the world and move forward without the reassurance of a satisfying or happy ending. We are as a culture trained to seek and create tidy narrative arcs. One of the first skills I teach when I incorporate storytelling into my curriculum for the very young ones is to look for the three acts of any story: beginning, middle, and end. Then these poor kids have to spend the next twenty years learning that that’s all a lie, because everything happens in cycles. The last card of the major arcana in the Tarot is the World, a symbol of all-encompassing rhythms of change. If you’re constantly trying to craft a happy ending not only will you be disappointed but you won’t see the truth. Even if you’re looking at the scene of a kill site, the point where a hunter found and captured its quarry, is that where that story ends? Or is there sign of the hunter bringing the food back to its den? Are there signs of young? What is the hunter nurturing through the end of the quarry’s life? What other stories are beginning as that one ended?

Bear with me here. I teach children many, many traditional land skills, and one of my favorites is track and sign, the skill of reading various indications of the presence of animals. I especially love to teach children tracking because I am still quite bad at it, and the reason I’m bad at it is that I love telling stories. I have an intensely pattern-seeking mind, and it is easy to look at a track and create the vision of, say, a wolf stalking through the brush. But tracking doesn’t care about the story you want: tracking well relies on accepting that you must look at the information in front of you and take it as it is, incorporate it into your understanding, learn to read the true story in front of you instead of the one you desire; admit your own ignorance when you don’t know. As much as I might want to see the story of that wolf, most of the time the track I’m looking at belongs to a domestic dog. And, the beauty of tracking is that even if I don’t get what I want, that doesn’t mean that the process of learning to read the story in the land around me isn’t a delight in itself. In that way, tracking builds the ability to embark on a journey that, even without a pretty outcome, is worth the travel; it builds the foundations of courage. I want us to remember that as we go through this weekend. It is all too easy, in an environment of high expectations, to set ourselves up for the disappointments of resolutions we didn’t want, or no resolutions at all. But when we learn to track well, when we move through the world holding courage as a beacon within, even in our failure we get to discover the story in front of us together.

If courage is using the wisdom of the past to look to the future with purpose, joy, meanwhile, is rooted elsewhere. It is the act of letting your expectations float away and feeling what you feel.

This is a hard world, and while I am determined to face what comes, I believe it is going to get harder still before ease returns to us, if it ever does.

But challenge, hardship — neither of these are entirely bereft of moments of joy.

There are many, many times in my life I’ve wanted to give up. If you will forgive an anecdote, I remember one very literal example, when I was living out in the Napa hills for a week. At one point I spent an hour kayaking from one shore of the lake to the other to forage for food, and I was in danger of capsizing. I had been the only student in my class unable to self rescue, and the thought of losing all my supplies, possibly my boat, filled me with real fear. When I finally banked I was too tired to walk to my campsite. I collapsed halfway up the hillside, unable to move, and seriously considered what defeat would mean. But then I looked up, and above me I saw a hawk. It wasn’t circling, it was simply floating. It looked effortless but I knew how much skill and instinct and strength went in to that simple act of staying in one place. Eventually I had enough strength to bathe in the creek, and the cold clarity of the water woke me entirely. I lay back in the grass when I was done. At some point I closed my eyes; at another I opened them and there was a deer, standing beside me. I remember how attuned I felt to everything around me, how sensitized I was to the feel of the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair, how open and alive I felt to the world.

And that is the thing about joy: that it is wholly anchored in the present. When we feel joy, true joy, there are no distractions. It is the flash of a deer bounding through the trees, it is the realization that the field you’ve collapsed in is blanketed with wildflowers.

I acknowledge that my experiences aren’t, on the surface, very common. But I want you to look past the surface details to what it is I’m trying to say. I would hazard a guess that many of us in this room, if not most of us, have passed through times in our life when we lay down, unsure how we would rise again from under the weight of whatever put us down. But clearly we did, because we are all here.

We are not going to be falling into fields of wildflowers in this Marriott. But we will share laughter over a table. We will break bread together. We will feel that thrill as a co-player makes a story decision that clicks an entire game into place. We will unfurl our adventures like a tapestry before us, no beginning, no end. Just a story in front of us, waiting for us to read it.

Stewardship, courage, joy: all three values are at the center of all the games I make, and I see them at the core of this gathering, every year. That is why this convention isn’t just a good time, it’s important; because in difficult times, tending our courage and our joy is vital, necessary, urgent work. Animals learn how to survive through the rough and tumble of play, and we, the human animal, are no different. We are all here in the spirit of that first card of the major arcana, the Fool card, taking our first steps setting out on the path of the next three days. When we embark on creating these stories together, as designers or players, I hope we carry these three values with us into our play. I hope we steward this space by keeping it pleasant and tidy, by respecting the presence of others around us; I hope we steward ourselves in play by taking ownership of our own emotional decisions, by ensuring that we are taking care of our own most basic needs; I hope we steward each other by communicating directly, accurately, and kindly, using the information that is in front of us, and by witnessing the incredible stories we are going to create together.

It is a cliche that when parents don’t approve of some social connection their child has made they say something like, “If your friend was going to jump off a cliff and wanted you to jump with them, would you?” It’s meant to be rhetorical, yet here we all are, figuratively holding hands as we ready ourselves for the leap into this weekend. Some of you have traveled a long, long way to be with us. Some of you, like me, count the Bay as your home. And what a blessing it is to bridge that distance to make this leap into Big Bad Con 2019 together. What a blessing it is to be here with all of you.

I want to leave us with a setting of intention. Let us, this weekend, go outside and feel the warm October sun on our skin. Let us feel the breeze cool our sweat at night. Let us notice the way the natural world tenaciously springs forth even here, in this suburb, in the weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk, in the birds we hear over the constant hum of cars. Let us remember our own strength, resilience, and capacity to rise to the occasion, whatever that may be. Let these gifts bolster you as we meet every challenge that greets us here, and beyond here: and whatever modest gifts you have to give, I hope you offer them generously, in the spirit of stewardship, with all your courage, and all your joy. Thank you.