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Love Thy Nerd
Love Nerds + Engage Culture + Build Community

Loving Our Nerdy Neighbors: An Interview with Love Thy Nerd (Extended Version)

In the weeks leading up to the launch of the Love Thy Nerd website, I sat down with the Chief Nerds of LTN. The organization was beginning to take shape, and I wanted to hear what the leaders of Love Thy Nerd had in mind for their future. They shared not only their passion for nerddom, but also their plans to change the way the church responds to nerd culture.

[Editor’s note: this is the full version of the interview and it’s lonnnnng. Fair warning. If you’d prefer the abridged version, you can read it here.]

Madeline Turnipseed: What is LTN?

Chris Gwaltney (Chief Executive Nerd): We are nerds, and we love nerds. That includes everything: games, comics, bronies, furries, otaku, all the things. We really want people to know that they’re valued. This desire comes from our belief in Jesus as Christians and what He asked us to do, which is to love our neighbors. To us, nerds are our neighbors.

The name Love Thy Nerd came from someone in our community, Jameela Cameron. We had asked for suggestions for names and the minute I saw that name, that was it. “That’s the one!” I loved it because it’s fun, it’s cheeky, but it also communicates the message simply.

One thing that’s a driving force for us is, unfortunately, Christians haven’t done a great job of this loving-their-nerdy-neighbor thing. At best, the church has ignored nerd culture, and at worst, the church has demonized it: protesting conventions, or any number of other things. We wanted to get in there and speak a different story about love and acceptance and what Jesus believes about this group of people. We also want to educate Christians and help them understand this culture and the benefits of it. We almost see it as telling two gospels. Don’t mishear me, we know that there is only one gospel, but the word “gospel” means “good news,” and we have two pieces of good news we want to share. The good news we want to tell nerds is that they are loved and valued no matter what. I think anybody would say that’s good news to hear. But in the other direction, we want to tell Christians the good news about nerd culture: that it’s valuable and there are things that we can learn from it. That it’s not a waste of time or sinful and that there are some really great redeemable things in it. We see that as two different directions of the same thing.

You might ask how we are going to accomplish all this stuff. It seems like a lofty goal. I’m pretty sure we can’t call it the “Triforce”… trademark and all that… so we came up with this “nonspecific triangular-shaped symbol of ultimate power” that consists of three different ways that we want to go about loving and valuing this culture:

The first of these is thoughtful content. That’s what Drew Dixon is in charge of—he’s our Chief Content Nerd. It will be his job, among his team and other people, to put out not simply content—the gaming industry and nerd culture, in general, is saturated with content—there’s no shortage of that. What we want to do differently is thoughtful content. Not just talk about the games and say, “The graphics are cool,” or, “The audio was nice,” but to really dig deep and say, “What are the meaningful moments in these games? How do they speak to us as humans? What does it tell us about our own lives? Our family? Our relationships? Our faith? Our belief or lack thereof?” We want to talk about them in those ways. We’ll have articles and podcasts about that. And they will extend beyond games. We are Love Thy Nerd, not just Love Thy Gamer, so let’s talk about movies and pop culture stuff and anime and My Little Pony. Whatever it takes to extract some of those more meaningful things, we want to do that stuff.

The second part of the “nonspecific triangular-shaped symbol of ultimate power” is relational outreach. This is the going-out-to-people part of what we do. Us going to conventions and building relationships with people. Being a positive influencer in that space. Serving people, volunteering, whatever that looks like in the convention space. There’s so much opportunity in conventions. They’re growing like crazy. There’s so many people there. There’s lots of great things happening but also lots of not-great things happening. For us, then, to participate in the already good things that are happening and to challenge the bad. We also want to do local events for people to come and learn games in a comfortable, non-intimidating environment. The biggest aspect of this, for us, is building relationships with people. Matt Warmbier and April-Lyn Caouette are heading up that front. Matt on more the national and international side and April-Lyn more the micro and local side.

The last part is intentional community. Bubba Stallcup is our master at this. It looks like in-person meetups at conventions with people that are a part of our community already. We can say, “Hey, we’re going to be at this convention. Let’s do a meetup. Let’s play games together, let’s talk, let’s hang out.” Probably the bigger part of this is our online community. So much happens online these days. Our Facebook group has always been the focal point of what we do. Those online interactions are huge.

Gen Con Exhibit HallAlan De SmetCC BY-SA 3.0resized and cropped from original

Madeline: You’re all going to Gen Con soon. Why Gen Con?

Matt Warmbier (Chief Outreach Nerd): I think it was a few different reasons. One being we’ve all been to Gen Con before. Gen Con is one of those shows where people seem extra friendly like they want conversation. We thought “What better show to go to than a show where that’s what you do?” You sit down, and you play a game with someone. You demo a game with someone. Also, we figured that was the first show we could probably attend and be prepared for. We love Gen Con. I love Gen Con. I can’t wait to go, and it’s just a few weeks away.

Chris: My favesies

Matt: Yeah. Same.

Drew Dixon (Chief Content Nerd): When we had our first meeting together, it almost felt like a no-brainer to go to Gen Con. I think we all felt like, “Yeah! Why wouldn’t we? Why wouldn’t we go to Gen Con and tell gamers and nerds that Jesus loves them and build a relationship with them and hang out with them?” It’s what we do.

Madeline: What strategies are you using to recon?

Matt: We’re trying to work that out. We’re doing tournaments. We’re going to be hosting demos of games. Chris is hoping to run at least one, maybe two rounds of Twilight Imperium.

Chris: It’s like a six-hour board game. Hey, what better way to meet some people and build relationships than to spend six hours in space warfare and politics?

Matt: We’re going to have a meetup like we mentioned earlier with really anyone and everyone, people from the community and otherwise. We’ve built relationships with a lot of game developers over the years, so reconnecting with them and loving on them.

April-Lyn Caouette (Chief Local Outreach Nerd): One of the things that I hope our team does a lot of is a lot of listening and observing and walking around the convention with an intentional mindset to see the areas where there are needs. Not rushing into doing things so much as watching to see where there are places that we can be and should be doing things, and taking notes. Then at the end of the day, we’ll have a debrief and talk about what we saw that day.

Chris: That’s such a great point because I think that’s something that, historically, Christians have done a really bad job at, or maybe just people in general. We don’t listen well, and we come in with our own agenda of what we want to do and start stomping our feet around everywhere declaring what we are and what we want to do instead of going in with a more open-handed approach. “What’s already happening here and how can we participate in it? What isn’t happening here that should be? How can we create that?” I think that’s such a good point. We’re not just going to go. We’re not on the no-plan plan entirely. But we do want to be open like that. I think that’s a great point.

April-Lyn: I think as humans, especially in our culture, we’re bad at not going in and doing. As Christians, that’s something we need to be doing a lot more of: not doing. Not doing and instead focusing on being present and being ready to have God bring us people to talk to. As a recon mission, I think that’s especially important that we’re going in to gather information rather than running at it full-force.

Drew: The team that’s coming on this trip are all people that we’ve gone on mission with before. They’re people that we love and we’ve seen God use them in this space to reach nerds and love them and point them to Jesus. All that was intentional. When we have these debriefs at the end of the day, we’ve got people [whose opinion we value]. We’re not just going to Gen Con to have a good time and play games. We’re doing this intentionally, and we’re going to have a lot of conversations at the end of the day. That’s what recon is, to get information. We’re still studying nerd culture. We’re studying the people, and we’re asking that question. “How can we show love? How can we point people to Jesus?” The mission of Love Thy Nerd is to be the love of Jesus. “How can we be the love of Jesus in this space in a way that’s responsible and doesn’t give them something that they already have or doesn’t respect them on their terms?”

Madeline: What kind of connections are you looking to make?

Bubba Stallcup (Chief Community Nerd): “Connections” is really the wrong word to use with what we’re trying to do. Connections is more of a business term, right? Connections are like a pitch about who you are and what you do, and you hope to be able to talk to them about your thing later. While we still would like to do that about Love Thy Nerd, we’re building relationships. That’s what we want to do. Relationships are work, hard work. It’s more than a one-time “I’m going to talk to you here at this convention.” We want to be involved in your life. We want to know the things you’re going through. We want to be a resource for you. Whether that be games, running a game night, but we also want to be a resource for Christ when you’re going through hard times and facing sorrow. That’s a lot to ask of this one thing, but even though it’s a recon trip, it’s really hard for us to not do what we’ve been doing, for some of us for the last six years. We can’t not do this. It’s in our nature to build relationships. We’re not going to make connections. We’re going to build relationships.

We’re going to do that with two main groups of people:

Giant game at Gen ConPiotrusCC-BY-SA-2.5 cropped and resized from original

We’re going to do it with devs. Like Matt said, we have a ton of devs that we know who we’ve already started to build up relationships with and who we’ve already contacted. “Hey, are you going to be at Gen Con? We would love to hang out with you, get a drink with you, whatever.” We want to be there for those devs and get them things. Maybe they need water or a lunch during the long con days. Gen Con is going to have four of them bad boys. We want to be there for them. One of the devs we know is Tim Fowers. At PAX South, he had a brand new game that wasn’t released yet. We were able to take that game to table, learn it, and teach some new people how to play that game. We would love to be able to do that as we start building these relationships with more devs. We want to be able to learn their game and teach their game, as well as just being there for them.

We also want to learn about nerds. We want to know where they’re from, what they like, what they don’t like. We really want to spend time and sit down and play games with them. Like we talked about, being involved in tournaments, hosting games, or letting them teach us a game. Sometimes that’s the best way to build a relationship with somebody is to allow them some sort of position of authority over you. We’re going to practice a little bit of meekness and humility and let them teach us some games.

Either way, we’re building lasting relationships with the people that we meet at Gen Con.

Chris: There’s a pretty big [unofficial] Facebook group for Gen Con. There’s 13,000 people in it, and that’s where I’ve been able to find some people to play Twilight Imperium. I posted in there, and I put an emphasis on new players. It’s a pretty intimidating thing, a six-hour board game minimum. There’s a lot of people who I think would love to play it but feel like they’ll never have the time for it or are intimidated by the rules or whatever. I really tried to make it a point to say “This is for you.” I’m going to try to make it a comfortable, safe place for anybody to come and learn. It’s been cool to make some connections on there. I think that’s something we’ll continue to do beyond Gen Con with other conventions. There’s no limit to the ways we can build those relationships.

Drew: I thought Bubba’s answer was perfect, so I don’t want to say too much. I think that illustrates what’s different about how we intend to cover nerd culture and gaming. There’s all this talk about collusion in games journalism. We want to collude. People think that’s a bad thing, but we want to know the people who make games. Even as we’re out there covering the cool new tabletop games that are at Gen Con, I want to know the people who are doing it. I want to remember their names and go talk to them at the next convention I see them at and have them on our podcasts. So they know that we think “What you do is amazing and we want to know you as a person. We want to give you an outlet to have a relationship with us.” I think that can be done without ruining our journalistic integrity or something. But, no one is going to come to Love Thy Nerd for the most objective game review ever. Those relationships are more important to us than even that. I think that’s needed in this culture.

Madeline: Tell us about the LTN website. What can we expect?

Drew: Chris mentioned some of this already, but what we hope people will find there is content that is thoughtful about what games mean in our lives and the impact they have. Not just games, but nerd culture. “Where is there truth and beauty and goodness in this culture?” Because it’s there. If we really believe that all human beings are image-bearers or made in the image of God, we’re going to find pictures, glimpses of His beauty, of His truth, of His goodness in nerd culture. We want to celebrate that.

I think at times the church has done a poor job of celebrating that or we’ve encouraged people to have this sort of “keep things at arms-length” kind of attitude towards nerd culture. We want to redeem that. We want people to see the value that’s there. We also want to educate the church. Educate Christians about these things and why they’re valuable and why they’re worth engaging.

We want people to find good, beautiful, truthful content on the site. Thoughtful content that embodies our name: Love Thy Nerd. We want people to feel loved and cared for and valued by the type of content that they read, which I think is different from most sites. Most nerd culture sites are kind of consumer-driven, whereas we don’t want to be consumer-driven. We want to be community-driven. We want the kinds of articles that we post and the reviews to give us opportunities to connect around the nerdy stuff that we love and build relationships around it. That’s the short answer.

You’ll find all the normal stuff that you’ll find at a lot of websites, so we’ll have reviews, but they won’t just be about whether or not this game is good or not, although we’ll get into that. We’ll be about “What does this game mean in the lives of the people that play it?” We’ll have news posts, but they won’t just be about the new cool thing that’s out. They’ll be about “What does this say about our culture? What does this say about us? What does this say about me as a human being?” We’ll have lots of educational posts as well. We hope to educate the church about the value of game culture. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about video games, things like addiction. Let’s have balanced articles that tackle all sides of that, that help people get their bearings around what they should be concerned about and what’s propaganda when it comes to game addiction.

Madeline: How do you present LTN to people when you tell them about it?

Bubba: LTN is my passion. It’s what God has called me to do. I truly feel that if I don’t do this thing, then what I’m doing is sin. I won’t get into all of that, but I know that God has called me to do this, specifically, so I have to be doing it. I tell people that we get to do something really cool, which is speak and be the love of Jesus to an entire people and culture that they don’t get to. And nine times out of ten, if they did, they [nerds] wouldn’t listen to them. It almost seems counterfeit if a blue-hair from my church were to go to Gen Con and try and hand out Chick tracts. That would be completely inappropriate to do. What we’re doing is we’re going to flip the script, so to speak, for the nerd community to how they see the Christian community and Christianity in general. We’re going to do it well because we have experience doing it well. This is definitely not our first rodeo. Like we said, some of us have up to six years experience in this very line of work. Not just in Christianity or in nerd stuff, but we really do get to see how the Venn diagram overlaps. We are nerds, and we are Christians, and both of those things come naturally to us.

Working lunch at the LTN planning retreat

Chris: I love our name. It does it. As you can tell, all of us can blather on about what that means, but really, just “Love Thy Nerd.” I was in a group of people the other day, and they were asking me “What’s this non-profit you’re starting? What’s it called?” And I just said “Love Thy Nerd.” All the lightbulbs went on. People kinda chuckled and giggled to themselves, but it wasn’t an “Oh, that’s stupid.” It was “Oh that’s clever, and I get it.” I didn’t say anything else other than “Love Thy Nerd” and people started filling in the blank for me. “Oh so you guys kind of reach out to the nerd community and kind of love on them and stuff?” And I’m like “Done. I don’t even need to do anything. Cool.” I think that’s awesome. Thanks, Jameela.

Madeline: You were all involved to some degree with an organization called Gamechurch before this. How do you answer people when they ask why you left?

Drew: We all worked with Gamechurch. I worked with Gamechurch for six years, and I’m so thankful to the Lord for that opportunity. I had a passion, and I think all of us would say, before we met Gamechurch, we had a passion to share the love of Jesus in gaming and nerd culture. That’s something we were passionate about doing, and Gamechurch gave us an outlet to do that and to do it better and to learn more about what it looks like to do that well. There came a point where we realized we could no longer do that with Gamechurch. In part, this happened because Gamechurch changed its approach but also because the leadership of Gamechurch was not going in a direction that we were comfortable with. We couldn’t continue working with Gamechurch in good conscience. I want to be clear, that doesn’t mean that Gamechurch is doing anything wrong as an organization, morally or otherwise. We all felt the conviction that we couldn’t continue with the group.

But we can’t stop doing what we’ve been doing, which is being the love of Jesus in gaming and nerd culture. That’s why we started Love Thy Nerd. I think we felt bound. Like Bubba said earlier, I think it was a no-brainer. We’re going to do this; this is what God has called us to do, so we have to continue doing it.
That said, we wish Gamechurch all the best. Gamechurch’s mission is “to bridge the gap between the gospel and the gamer.” That’s a mission that we all still think is awesome, it’s amazing. We’re thankful that Gamechurch has this mission and we hope and pray that Gamechurch succeeds in fulfilling that mission. Insomuch as Gamechurch is fulfilling that mission, we consider them allies in the work of ministry and in the work of being the love of Jesus in gaming and nerd culture. We wish them all the best.
But God has called us to do this. We can’t not do it.

Madeline: Even though this is a recon, it’s still Gen Con. What is the nerd in you most excited to check out?

Chris: Games.

Bubba: I’m picking up my copy of My Little Scythe, and I’m pretty jazzed.

Chris: Yeah, I’m excited. One of my favorite things about Gen Con is walking the exhibit floor. There’s so much to do. I mean, you could spend—and I’ve never said this about any other convention—you could spend all four days just walking the exhibit floor. Sitting down with a person that poured their heart and soul into making a game and you sit down across from them, and you play that game with them. They get to teach it to you, and they get to see you respond to that and you ask questions about it and what their process was like. That’s so cool. And you get to play cool games. I love that.

Also, I’m excited to play Twilight Imperium.

Matt: I’m excited because I feel like there’s so many new games out there. Every year the caliber of games goes up. Things you wouldn’t ever think of—at least, I would never think of—they’re going to be there. It’s wonderful. Wonderful new games.

Chris: Dude, if you can think of it, there’s a board game for it. Like Deck Building: The Deck Building Game. It’s a deck building game about building decks. Decks, like on your porch. That’s a game.

Drew: I’m looking forward to My Little Scythe too, I have mine pre-ordered. Did any of y’all have one particular game that you’re really excited to play that’s not out yet?

Chris: The new Scythe module [Scythe: Rise of Fenris].

April-Lyn: I was looking over the almost-400-game preview list on BoardGameGeek last night, and I flagged 25, no, more than that—

Chris: I think I made it through ten of those, and I’m like “Nope! There’s no way I’m making it through this.”

April-Lyn: I flagged so many things. There’s some really unique looking games out here. There’s a storytelling game about telling stories about fake civilizations and how they evolved [Before There Were Stars]. There’s another game, a cooperative game, about helping someone in their last days of life, helping to serve them then [Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr].

Chris: Sounds light-hearted.

April-Lyn: Heavy stuff. I’m really excited about those, and then there’s a game that you play blindfolded [Nyctophobia]. It’s a tactile game, a cooperative—

Chris: Called Pin the Tail On the Donkey…

April-Lyn: [laughs] Yeah, Gen Con edition. Those are a couple of games that I found that look really intriguing that I’m going to keep my eyes out for.

Chris: I’m really excited to see these dirtbags. These are my favorite people. The other guys that are going to be on the team too. I’m really excited to get to spend that time together and get to serve together, but also get to play together and share life together. I think all of us have these kinds of relationships with each other that even though we’re not in physical proximity—when we get in physical proximity, we pick up where we left off. There’s no catch-up or anything like that. It just works. I’m excited for that.

Bubba: There’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book game. Do you guys know what I’m talking about?

Chris: Uh, Dungeons and Dragons?

Bubba: No, it’s based on an old book [series] from the 70s, the Choose Your Own Adventure books. That’s there.

April-Lyn: That’s good. I like Choose Your Own Adventure. If you find out what it’s called Bubba, let us know, it sounds good.

Bubba: House of… something, it’s by Z-man, or they’re publishing it. I’m really excited the most—outside of seeing these guys obviously, I wasn’t even going to say that because I thought it was a given—I’m really excited to see our friends that we’ve made. I want to see Tim Fowers again. I feel like every time I see that guy he’s got a new game that he’s working on. I want to sit down and talk with Nate and Manny from Dice Throne. Maybe get some hands-on with Season 2, play a little Gunslinger. That’d be nice. Also, James Hudson recently got hired on to Skybound and is now the head of all their tabletop stuff. He’s constantly got stuff in the works. He’s been doing Grimm Forest and Court of the Dead and stuff like that. He’s always working on something new. Even if he doesn’t have something, he can show us what the new thing is. That game is called House of Danger, by the way, that Choose Your Own Adventure game.

Matt lied earlier when he said we’d all been to Gen Con. I have not been to Gen Con.

Chris: Yeah, I wasn’t going to say that.

Bubba: So I don’t know what to expect.

Drew: It’s amazing.

Quiplash at the LTN planning retreat

Bubba: I’ve never been. Before I got on with Gamechurch, I never went to a con. I don’t do cons the way that a lot of people do. We’ve already been talking about “What panels are you going to go and catch? What tournaments are you going to do?” And I’m like, “I’m just going to walk around and talk to people and play games.” I don’t know if that’s wrong—

April-Lyn: No, a lot of people do that.

Bubba: That’s what I’m going to do. Because really, the thought of standing in a line for 45 minutes to hear four people I probably don’t know talk about something I have little vested interest in, that doesn’t really appeal to me. Going and buying a game that I didn’t know existed before that weekend, that really speaks more to me. That’s more what I’m excited about. Finding new stuff.

Chris: There will be some of that there.

Drew: The very first game I found on BoardGameGeek’s Gen Con list is called Brewin’ USA: Taproom Takeover. I’ve heard that could be cool, I don’t know. [laughs]

Matt: I think I’ve played that one.

Chris: What was that game, I think it was an Atari game where you slide mugs of beer down a bar?

April-Lyn: Tapper.

Bubba: Never played that one, Chris.

Chris: Tapper, right? It’s the board game version of that.

April-Lyn: I want to find Vlaada again. Challenge him to a game of Codenames.

Drew: There you go. We should publish the interview we did with him on Love Thy Nerd.

Madeline: Aside from coming on a trip like GenCon, what are some other ways people can serve with LTN? Do you have any resources for helping people do ministry locally to gamers and nerds?

April-Lyn: From the local perspective, I’m trying to build up a network—I’ve actually got a Facebook group that I’m calling LTN Local—a network of nerds around the country and, hopefully, the world that are organizers of local nerd events, gaming nights, or want to be. It’s kind of a support group where we can encourage one another, give each other advice, feedback, share funny memes and informative links. I’m kind of building up a library of links. Being part of that group is a good first step. It’s still kind of in the process of figuring out what that group will be when it grows up, as Bubba likes to say. That’s one way.
Contributing to our website… One of the areas of the website that I would like to see is an area that is information on how to be a local nerd. How people in the church can start a game night without being weird about it. How to minister to nerds in a way that’s winsome and loving, that isn’t bait and switch. People contributing information like that.

And then going out and being nerds in the community. That’s part of the Love Thy Nerd mission is being in the community, loving people, going to where the nerds are.

Drew: If you have any ideas of ways you want to serve with us to love nerds and point nerds to the love of Jesus, tell us. We want to know your ideas and incorporate them.

Also—Chris is probably going to say this—you can give to what we’re doing. We’re all giving a ton of our time—

Bubba: Make sure you put the word “skrilla” in there

Drew: We’re working hard every week to figure out how to love nerds and point them to Jesus. We’re giving a ton of time to do this, to build our website, to do all these things that we want to do, to plan more trips, and we need financial support to do that. That’s one of the simplest ways you can help us.

Matt: Be on the lookout because we will be opening up who we go with eventually. We want people to come with us, just not Gen Con. All of my children are going to be there too.

[laughter]

Bubba: To Drew’s point, there are things that we don’t even know we need to be doing. Like Chris said, we got the name from Meela. We knew there was a thing we were supposed to be doing, we just didn’t know what to call it, so we needed help from the community. This is a call to anybody who is smarter than us, please come and help us do this thing. Okay, just smarter than Chris, he says. Come and help us figure this thing out. We may have years of experience in this area, but that by no means is a license for us to know how to do everything right out of the gate. So if anybody has any ideas of things that we could do, be prepared to help us get there. We may not have the means to do that thing ourself, but we welcome it. We’re going to need help with the community. We’re going to need help with running game nights. We’re going to need help with April-Lyn doing local gaming stuff. It’s going to reach a point where she can’t do it all by herself. Matt’s going to need leaders to go on trips. Chris is going to need help keeping his head straight on with all the things that he’s doing. Drew constantly needs writers and editors, people who are well-versed in the English language and sometimes other languages, too. I know we’ve talked about opening up new podcasts. We want to reach out to people wherever they are instead of just having them come to us. That’s the whole model of what we’re doing with Gen Con. We’re going to the people. If you have an idea, let us know. We’ll try to incorporate it.

Madeline: If your budget were larger than it is now, what are some additional things you could do at Gen Con?

Bubba: We’d have a 15 passenger van.

Matt: A booth, we’d have a booth.

Chris: I have two answers. One is specifically the question about Gen Con, but then I want to answer it in general.

For Gen Con, the sky is the limit. Like Matt said, having a booth. One of our challenges in planning this trip has been [not having] a home base. We’re going to be pretty nomadic the whole time, so it’s going to be hard for us to meet up, to coordinate things, or whatever. Like, we just don’t have a home base. Beyond that—that’s kind of a minor thing—the main thing would be to have a pretty visible marketing opportunity for more people to find out about us and who we are and what we’re doing and what we want to do. Inviting people to that fold. Being able to sell T-shirts or giveaway custom dice or whatever. A booth would be awesome.

At Gen Con, I’ve wanted for years to do an afterparty. Either partner with people that are already doing one and sponsor them with money—help them pay for it—or put on our own and find sponsors. To have something outside an evening of the convention to get people together and build deeper relationships instead of just the quick interactions that you have during the day. To be able to sit down with somebody over a meal or over a drink and dig a little deeper. That would be super cool.

If we had more money, we could give stuff away. People love getting stuff. I love giving stuff away. It’s kind of a win-win. And it’s loving. That may sound stupid, but giving away free stuff? That 100% describes Jesus. I don’t think that’s a stretch. Nobody’s probably going to think that deeply about it, but it’s cool. I’d love to do that.

I could go on and on about things we could do at Gen Con, but I think in general: Drew mentioned this a little bit, but all of us have jobs that we’re doing besides this. All of us are working part-time or full-time jobs or both, in addition to families and kids and other activities, church stuff, serving in church; all of us are doing a lot. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we would do LTN full time, no question. We would put aside the other jobs and things. Not that we hate what we’re doing, but we’d put it aside because this is our heart. And yet, that can’t happen because we have family, because we have bills, because we have rent, we have all the normal human stuff. It’s only because of super generous people that we’re able to do even what we’re doing now. That’s the big thing. If we were able to dedicate more time to it, then inevitably we [would] be able to do more as an organization and ministry. We’re going to be able to create more content. We’re going to be able to build more relationships. We’re going to be able to create more community. We’re going to be able to do more. We’re going to be able to reach more and more people and bring more people in. More conventions, more events, more of everything, really, is the simple answer I guess.

Madeline: Someone mentioned LTN doing a conference towards the end of the year.

Chris: I haven’t forgotten.

Bubba: I wonder who that “someone” could have been that mentioned that.

Chris: [laughs]

Bubba: We weren’t even three days old, and he’s like “We should put on a convention.”

Madeline: Is that something that’s still on the table if you had enough money?

Chris: Oh, one-hundred percent. I don’t know about this year. I would do it. I would figure out a way. Right now we’re trying to get to and through Gen Con. Once we’ve done that we’re going to learn a lot. We talked about maybe trying to go to another convention towards the end of the year and opening it up to other people that wanted to go and capping it. Say the first ten people that sign up get to go. Or, maybe we do a conference and host a conference and try to get everybody in the same place in the same room and keep dreaming about what this could look like; helping teach people and equip people to do it in their own local context as well.

Bubba: I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re still trying to figure out how to be our own thing and get across the message that we’re really trying to get across. For us to immediately have a conference right out of the gate… we didn’t even know our left from our right as far as LTN went. I think that we’re shoring that up a lot more now to where in 2019 we would be ready to impart some of that mission and knowledge on to people. We’re still collecting resources. We’re still collecting exactly where our true motivation besides each specific thing is other than the cause of Christ. What are we trying to accomplish when we host a game night? How do we want to teach people? What models do we want for that? It’s coming. It’s definitely on the horizon.

Matt: My body is ready.

Chris: I mean, we’ve only been around for like four months. It’s astounding to me and really scary and weird that it’s only been like four months since we’ve had a name and any idea of what we’re doing. I think it’s like… I don’t know. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We’re doing some things, and we’re a four-month-old baby nonprofit ministry organization, I feel like we’re doing a ton. All that stuff will come. I would rather do a few things really freaking well then do a whole bunch of things terribly or mediocre even. We’re trying to do these few things really really well and then figure out what we can do next.

Bubba: And maybe our first thing is honestly a casual hang with one or two keynotes or something like that. Nothing intensive.

Chris: Yeah, informal.

Bubba: But really, I think what Madeline’s getting at is she just wants to hang out. She wants to get together with everybody.

Matt: Me too!

Bubba: And we get that because that’s what we are; we’re co

mmunal people, for the most part. Matt. But I think if we can create the excitement and then say, “We don’t have technique to give you guys, but we can put Drew on stage and pump you up about why there’s beauty in video games.” Something like that.

Chris: Drew can preach.

Bubba: I think that [case] could be made there.

Chris: I think that if it did happen this year, it would be very informal.



Assignment and Contributing Editor
Assignment and Contributing Editor at Love Thy Nerd, Madeline lives in Texas where she takes care of people, plays games, watches, reads, writes, and makes things.

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