Hanging Out with Sean Nittner, Founder of Big Bad Con & Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions

Hey fellow cooks and geeks. Time for one more interview, then it will be back to cooking for a stretch.

Last February I had a chat with Sean Nittner over Google Hangouts (yes this is very delayed post). Sean is the Founder of Big Bad Con and a Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions. I’ve been meaning to talk with Sean for some time now, having met him in 2012 at Big Bad Con, and I was struck by his confidence in running a convention, and his ease at joining into conversations and relating with new people.

For the interview, we spent a lot of time talking about an array of issues, but basically the four things we focused on were:

  • Conventions
  • Gaming
  • Food
  • Evil Hat

Not so coincidentally, the videos have been separated into four parts that match up pretty neatly on those lines.

Part 1: Introduction and Gaming Conventions

Highlight quote:

Brian: So When people hear the name Sean Nittner, What do you want them to think?

Sean: That is a very big vague question I’ve been looking at that and thinking about that and… my first thought was gaming evangelist but I realize that evangelist isn’t really the right word because I’m not reaching out to non gamers, at least not exclusively. [I’m not looking]to bring people into the fold, but what I want to do is make games accessible to other people.

I want more people playing more different games, and trying out new things. So I think gaming advocate is probably the best word, I don’t know if it completely captures it.

Whether … it is from writing an actual play report to recap our game and show people examples of play or whether its putting on conventions or working with Evil Hat, they all set around the idea.

…When I sit in a room of people all playing a game and having a good time, that’s like the best time of my life, that’s when I’m my happiest, I feel like I’ve reached Nirvana then, is when I’m sitting around and all of these people having a great time playing games together, and that’s great, and I want to make that happen as much as I can whether it’s through my personal interactions just gaming with people or by producing content, or putting on a con. or doing things online. Just whatever I can do to foster that in general.

We of course spent a lot of time talking about the mechanics and thought behind Big Bad Con, such as its focus on charitable giving, and how Games on Demand came about, as well as the online registration system. We also discussed some the conventions that inspired him, including Kublacon, PAX, Good Omens Con.

I also surprised him by telling him that one of the first impressions I had of him, aside from seeming very nice and confident, was how incredibly ripped he was, and we talked about how he did that. Basically healthy eating and a lot of research on Bodybuilding.com

Part 2: Gaming

Highlight quote:

Brian: So let’s move from the big picture conventions and move down to a more personal level of your own gaming, so when did you start gaming, what got you into it?

Sean: Oh I was in… this is gonna sound like a lot of gaming stories, I was in 7th grade the Mendocino Jr. High School and I was in the library and there some guys sitting at the table and they were all talking in very hushed tones because it was the library and um I couldn’t tell what the heck they were doing.

There was one kid, his name was Clayton Weber, hey Clayton, haven’t talked to you in ages, and he was running a game and a friend of mine Alex, still a very good friend of mine, he’s one of my groomsmen at my wedding, and we’re still very close but Alex was playing in it and I was like what are you doing can I play and he’s like,

“Um yeah sure we’ve got like a gnome tied up in a bag, you wanna play the gnome tied up in a bag?” And I was like, “Yeah that sounds great I’ll be a gnome that’s tied up! Awesome!”

I don’t even remember what I was doing I just knew I could not do anything because I was playing this character who was tied up and then I kind of figured out enough that I was like “I’m gonna make my own character alright guys? I’m gonna make something no one’s ever thought of! I’m gonna make a half elf ranger yeah!”

Because that’s so original. And I came and like I climbed up into a tree and I got shot by a crossbow and died! And so then I was back to playing the gnome in the sack and I’m like,

“I’m going to stick with this gnome in a sack thing because that seems to be keeping me alive!”

We also discussed where he would like to see gaming go in the future, the increasing intersection of board games and role-playing games, the formerly monolithic position of Dungeons and Dragons as the Pencil & Paper roleplaying game, and how it’s decline in importance has actually been good for the gaming industry as a whole.

Additionally I asked what he’s playing now, and his top three at the moment are very dungeon focused:

This was interesting since he’s coming coming off a long sting of “feelings” games such as Don’t Rest Your Head and Dogs In the Vineyard.

Bonus fact: Sean has played roughly 1 game every 4.8 days. I have to admit I’m a bit jealous of this rigor.

Part 3: Food!

Highlight quote:

Brian: Seeing as how I write a food blog, I’d kind of like to talk about food …. this first question that I supply to you: If Sean Nittner were a food item at a buffet at an old town Las Vegas casino, what would you be?

Sean: …Sean would be there pyramid of … cream cheese crab wontons that are … strangely not part of any food type. Like wontons they have a certain origin but once you cram cream cheese and shrimp into or cream cheese and crab into them, they’re like now they’re just somebody’s mad invention, nobody can claim ownership of the cream cheese crab wonton.

But they are deep-fried, they sometimes burn you when you bite into them because you don’t realize there’s molten cream cheese in the center of them but they are absolutely delicious and you can devour them you can just keep chowing through them and they are utterly unpretentious, which is an incredibly pretentious thing to say I realize… but I feel they are accessible to anyone unless of course they have a lactose allergy or a crab allergy but that’s me. Crab wontons.

I also learned that he eats incredibly healthy, but also likes wet burritos, chocolate old-fashioned doughnuts specifically, and his favorite cocktail is a Moscow Mule. I told him about my Molotov Mule take on that drink as well.

He also turned the tables on me, and asked me a question about how I manage to combine being a Cook and a Geek. That was fun, but I won’t go into that on a post about Sean.

Part 4: Plugs for Evil Hat and Sign Off

Highlight quote:

Sean: If you are not on the evil hat mailing list, I highly recommend you getting in on it because we announce all the stuff there and that way you can keep appraised on playtest windows.

Sean also plugged quite a few Evil Hat projects. I’ll list some of them.

I had a great time talking with Sean, and learning more about him has only made me respect him more, as both a gamer and a person. You can see what he’s up to on his site, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

I think I should also mention that Sean is also looking for volunteers to help out with Big Bad Con 2015. You can see that on Google+ here.

Links you might like: