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26. The most significant cultural event in Helsinki

At the end of July 2016, I visited the Finnish convention Ropecon as one of the two Guests of Honour (GoH). I’d been there in 2005 as a GoH, and was generously allowed to return, putting me in the august company of Steve Jackson, who is the only other GoH to have had that privilege.

What is Ropecon?

Held annually for over 20 years, and run entirely by volunteers, Ropecon is an amazing event. It gathers larpers, MtG players, cosplayers, and more. It’s a gathering of gamers of all stripes, and of nerddom in general. It lasts for a weekend and had no less than 4200 participants this time.

But what about the title of the blog post?

Ropecon is important. Perhaps a lot more important than most think. At least that’s my view. The reason for this is that participatory culture matters. Co-creation matters. And one of the things most of the Ropecon participants have in common is that they’re co-creators of culture instead of just consumers of it.

The hectic life of a GoH is fun

One of the nicest things about being a Guest of Honour was that I didn’t have to plan. Others did it for me, and it was wonderful.

  • I ran my freeform larp “Crossing Borders” twice in two 2-hour sessions.
  • I held three solo lectures, and two shared ones.
  • I participated in a game design workshop held by the American GoH, Ross Watson
  • I got to see a really cool 2-hour panel about money in the video game industry.
  • I was at two meetups; one for CoW players and one for Harry Potter fans.
  • I was at a special organiser dinner and at a fantastic afterparty for the volunteers
  • I even got to speak twice from the central Ropecon stage (at both opening and closing ceremony).
  • And on top of that, I got to hang out with friends, meet new amazing people and hold two room parties in my hotel room – the last of which featured more than 30 people in a space really not meant for it.

In the end, it’s about the people

Ropecon was amazing, but what I take with me is memories of people. People I knew beforehand, and got to spend time with again. People I’d never met, who made a lasting impression on me one way or the other. And people, who I knew a little and now know a lot. All helped make my experience what it was, and who knows where some of those meetings will lead?

10/10. Would do again if they ask me.

And if you get a chance to go there… take it.

Written by

Director, The College of Extraordinary Experiences & Coach at McKinsey

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