My friend, Jonathan Thompson, passed away this week and I want to reminisce a little, as he has had a huge impact on my work in the tabletop game industry. I have spent late nights this week reminiscing, crying, and praying with his brother Adam. I first met Jonathan and Adam at Gen Con 2013 while managing my first ever convention booth for Chronicle City. Jonathan and Adam were friends of Chronicle City’s founder, Angus Abranson, and volunteered to help work the booth.
Jonathan was quiet and reserved, but so knowledgeable about the tabletop game industry and full of care and brotherly love. Jonathan, Adam, and I quickly became friends and over the years kept meeting up and working booths together at Gen Con. We would often get a meal at least one day during Gen Con to celebrate Adam’s birthday, and my family would join us as well.
When Chronicle City changed focus, not returning to Gen Con, and I moved to assisting Modiphius with their booth, Jonathan and Adam soon joined me there as well.
By 2016, my wife and daughters were attending Gen Con regularly with me. My wife’s fond memories are sitting in the back of the booth while I was working on something. Jonathan, who was normally quiet, would sit down with her and talk. He had a gentle heart and would help care for my wife while I was busy. It was at this Gen Con that I have one of my favorite pictures of Jonathan.
You can see the joy in his eyes as he is among his friends and his passion for gaming at Gen Con. Gen Con was the only time I got to spend in person with Jonathan, and I enjoyed working beside him, playing games with him, and grabbing a meal.
But, beyond Gen Con, I have even more special and personal memories of Jonathan that we built online over the years. He provided me some of my earliest proofreading projects in the tabletop game industry, working on Eldritch Skies and Pulp Fantastic. I was still learning my trade and Jonathan was so patient and mentoring as I developed my skills and business sense for working as a game editor. And when I had the opportunity to teach Writing & Editing for Gaming at Taylor University, he jumped in quickly to help, offering proofreading and editing projects for my students. He continued to help me with my teaching, stepping up to be a mentor in my most recent Tabletop Game Writing Lab course. He mentored a talented student through the writing process, completing the drafts of his own superhero tabletop rpg, and was mentoring him through the publishing process. Still hopeful this ttrpg will be published someday.
Jonathan was my booth volunteer, freelance employer, personal mentor, class project provider, student mentor, and more than that, he was my friend. I miss him dearly. A blessing from his passing is that it has brought his brother Adam and I even closer together in friendship. I am sure Jonathan would love that Adam and I are growing together as friends.
If you have memories of Jonathan, I would enjoy hearing them. Feel free to share them in the comments below and I will be sure Adam and the family see them.
If you wish to help honor Jonathan and assist his family with funeral expenses, there has been a GoFundMe setup. https://www.gofundme.com/f/jonathan-thompson-funeral-fund