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.

Planning for the Power Outage

Hi all, while PG&E has been rather cagey, we’re learning more about the planned power outages and we’ll be updating this page as we get more information.


Update 10/10 3:00 PM PDT – PG&E conformed that we will NOT be affected by the outage. Yay, we have power!!!

Update 10/9 10:00 PM PDT – Power is still on at the hotel. It still may go out but if so, it should be back on by 6AM tomorrow.

Update: 10/9 4:20 PM PDT – Power should start being restored 10/10 at noon, but it may take up to a day or two to get everything back on (PG&E has to inspect all the lines before restoring power to them).

Update: 10/9 2:30 PM PDT – PG&E has stated that they are delaying the start of the power shut off till 8pm tonight. Shutoff still scheduled to end noon tomorrow the 10th.

Update: 10/9 11 AM PDT – I just spoke with the managers at the hotel and they have told me the following provisions are in place:

  • They have a backup generator and a backup drum of diesel that should last 3 days if needed.
  • There will be 1 Elevator working.
  • There will be lights in the public areas, California, and Contra Consta Ballrooms.
  • They are having battery powered lanterns sent up from San Luis Obispo and they will prioritize providing light for the 45 games room and the 3 larp rooms (Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and San Jose).
  • The AC will not be availability. Thankfully weather reports indicate this should be mild weekend (highs of 83 on Friday, otherwise cooler).
  • They estimate they will have hot water for 24 hours.
  • The room doors are battery powered, but they may not be able to issue key cards. Instead they have a single key fob per room that they will give to one person (and they will be asking to hold drivers licences when checking out the fobs). They will also have staff available to let people into rooms.
  • The hotel manifest (all the reservations) are being printed out every hour. They have backup power for their servers and terminals, but they are unsure if they will have internet access.
  • If internet access is down they will have a limited satellite uplink to Marriott Corporate for reservation information.
  • All the mobile providers have confirmed that cell towers will stay up during the outage.
  • They have additional recommendations for everyone staying at the hotel, which I’ve added to the suggestions for attendees below.
  • They will have to shut down all food service, however they are ordering extra supplies of non-perishable food that will be available.
  • Broadway plaza (1.1 miles from the Marriott) will have power and there are many food options there. The hotel will have two shuttles to help folks go there, or it’s a nice 20 minute walk.
  • The room safes are battery powered and will still be operational.
  • The Marriott cannot guarantee power for medical devices (though they will try to help us as they can) and recommend making accommodations for any refrigeration and/or power needed.

Update: 10/9 5:00 AM PDT – The hotel still has power but PG&E is predicting an outage at noon today.


Posted: 10/8 at 10:20 PM PDT

What we know

Hotel: The hotel may be affected. If so they do they have a generator that will keep limited lights on and one elevator running. They won’t be evacuating the hotel. There will likely not be wall power though so have devices changed and bring batteries.

BART: At this time BART does not anticipate any outages, although the stations themselves might be affected. As I type, PG&E and CalTrans are working to get the major tunnells onto backup generators so they can stay open.

Driving: It sounds like the Caldecott will likely remain open during the outage.

Cell Service: Cell service should be up but spotty. Text messages are ALWAYS better than calling in an emergency; text messages will get there eventually.

What we don’t know

Time and specific location of outages: PG&E says they are mostly going to go north to south, and when/where depending on the wind. Outages could start as early as midnight tonight, end time unspecified.

Events: We don’t know yet which event spaces will be accessible during the convention if the power is out.

Suggestions for Attendees

  • Very important: Update the Marriott with the names of everyone in your room. If you can do that before the power goes out, do it online. Otherwise call them (925) 934-2000 or let them know when you check in.
  • Bring spare batteries, cell phone chargers, and car chargers if you have them.
  • Bring glowsticks or flashlights (NO OPEN FLAME)
  • Fill up your gas tanks before you get to the afffected areas if possible and keep them full.
  • Let us and the hotel know if you have any medical needs that require power (refrigeration for medication, charge for ventilator, etc).
  • Bring non-perishable food.
  • Bring cash (ATMs and credit card terminals may be down). Be safe though, keep valuables in your room safes.

More Resources

Preparing for a power outage: www.ready.gov/power-outages

Sign up to get alerts: Call 1-877-9000-PGE or text “ENROLL” to 97633

A few ways to get a badge for BBC 2019

Badge sales are closed but we still have a few ways to attend Big Bad Con!

Update as of 9/16

All of our volunteer shifts are now full. Thank you to all of the Rangers who signed up!

Run games in Games on Demand

We’ve got just a handful of GM slots open in Games on Demand too! At the top of the GoD page we have the slots that are open (mostly morning and evening). If you’ve got two games you’re excited to run and those times work for you, we’d love to have you!

To sign up: GM in Games on Demand

Run Games on the Schedule

Through a lot of negotiation and shuffling of storage rooms (all those beds have to go somewhere!) we’ve freed up a few more event spaces, which means we can take a few more games on the schedule! During the open slots we’re accepting these games (which were the ones most highly in demand):

RPGs:

Agon
Afterlife: Wandering Souls
Band of Blades
Dialect
DIE RPG
Dream Askew
Fall of Magic
Girl by Moonlight
Girl Underground
Good Society
Into the Dark
Invisible Sun
Jiangshi in the Banquet Hall
Kids on Bikes
Masks
Monsterhearts 2
Ribbon Drive
Royal Blood
Ryuutama
Scum and Villainy
Skyjacks
Stewpot
Tales from the Loop
The King Is Dead
The Quiet Year
Turn
Under Hollow Hills
Xenolanguage

LARPS:

But Not Tonight
Hack/Enhance/Hack
Pressure Drop
Revived
Sky Deck
Storm Cellar

If you’d like to any of these, head over here to Run an Event!

If you’d like to run a game that isn’t on this list, please email events@bigbadcon.com. We’re going to first focus on getting more of these games on the roster and then evaluate the space we still have before considering others.

 

Badges sold out

For the first time ever Big Bad Con is going to be sold out! We’ve got 50 badges left and once those are sold, badge sales will be closed (both online and on-site, which means sadly we won’t be able to accept walk ins).

If you’d still like to come, here’s your chance: Leave a comment below indicating that you’d like to be on the waitlist. Note this doesn’t guarantee a badge, but it means you be notified when they are available.

On 9/23 at 7PM PTD (GMT-7:00) we’ll email everyone on the waitlist with a link to purchase a badge. There will be 50 badges available so if you want to get one, click that link and complete your purchase as soon as you can!

Update 9/23 7PM: We’ve emailed everyone on the waitlist and now closed comments on this post. If you weren’t able to get a badge for 2019 and would like to receive notifications for next year, make sure you have an account on the site (create an account).

Schedule Published – Verify your Badge today!

Schedule and Sign ups

Today we published the Big Bad Con event schedule. You can see it here: Events

The first round of event registration goes live September 7th at 12:00 PM PST!

Verify your badge

If you have a badge head over here to verify your badge.That way you know it’s working when signups go live!

Attend

If don’t have a badge yet and would like to come to Big Bad Con this year, you can get a badge by doing any of these:

More info you might want to know