Many, many years ago, Mike Jones decided to put together a gaming convention for his friends. He named it not for himself, but for his then-infant son, Alexander Jones, who quickly became the con mascot. The first couple “conventions” were in Mike’s apartment, where his extremely patient wife played hostess to an expanding pack of gamers.
Following this, the con moved to an actual venue; the Cuong Nhu dojo, itself a converted bowling alley. This thanks to our friend Pete, who had worked himself up through the ranks and had become himself a teacher in the school.
These I think were my fondest memories of Jonescon. Typical attendance during these years was anywhere from 200 to 250 people, there was a separate room for the card players, and plenty of space for dealers. The folks from Enterprise down in Orlando always came up with their giant Star Wars space ships, and there were always several (at least) company sponsored tournaments. I believe this was because Mike was very easy for the companies to work with, and because it was difficult to find a negative review of the con.
Mike held that gaming conventions should be about one thing and one thing only. Gaming. It should be easy to get in a game at any time, with little to no investment of time or effort. You just showed up at a table and sat down. Additionally, game masters were encouraged to run pick-up games whenever they could, and if you suddenly found yourself without a game one session, you need only look as far as the giant markerboard to find one.
Mike even eschewed the taking of a profit, saying that the one thing sure to ruin the con for everyone was the consideration of money. Every Sunday, once the ticket money had been sorted out, Mike would use the surplus to buy stacks of pizza for everyone in attendance.
Next the con moved to the Holiday Inn just up the road. It was pricier than the dojo, but for running a convention the convenience simply could not be beat. It was no longer necessary to rent tables and chairs which we would ourselves need to bring out and put away, collecting the entrance fee was easier with only one entrance, and because the now-Denney’s restaurant used to be a bar called Diggers Down Under, ($5 Monday nights—all the beer you could eat, all the wings you could drink!) it was a place with which we were all intimately familiar.
For the past two years Jonescon has been silent. Mike is the father of three, and his responsibilities have kept him away from convention-running duty. This year is different. Mike has officially handed over the reins to a good friend of his, Neil Edge. Neil runs the gaming club on campus at the University of Florida, and (finally) volunteered to take over Jonescon. He, Mike, Lena, myself, and our friend Steve met for dinner the night before Grail Quest, and I enjoyed his company thoroughly. I have no doubt the con is in good hands.
Mike himself will be taking more of an advisory role, still involved but without all the headaches. I wish him well.