Gencon 2012: Full of Win

Our trip to Gencon this year almost didn’t happen considering our 2011 experience was less than wonderful. Physical issues, hotel and financial stress, gaming disappointment, and a general lack of enthusiasm last year had J. Felbs and I questioning if we were going to try it again. 

After looking at what did and didn’t work for us the previous year, we tweaked a few things and gave it another try, figuring that if it was another bad year, we’d try something new in 2013.

I’m glad we did. This year’s Gencon was our best (so far). We planned ahead for several games but still allowed ourselves time to wander the exhibitor’s hall. We stayed away from the downtown area hotels and chose a much cheaper one about ten minutes from the convention center.*  We splurged to park closer so getting to and from the con was no big deal, and I was already ahead of the game since I’d been working towards improving my physical walking abilities for the past year. We also planned things to allow for plenty of sleep and rest time.

Even when we were just sitting around, staying at the convention center gave us the chance to meet fellow gamers and people watch. For me, this is part of the fun of any convention. It also meant that we found things to do in the “down time,” like visit the paint and take station.

We played a bunch of new games and browsed things in the exhibitor’s hall. I got a new print, poster, and sketch from one of my favorite webcomic artists. I picked up a new system for a horror campaign I hope to run soon. I gamed with the creator of White Wolf and Vampire: The Masquerade. I passed Wil Wheaton in the corridor (even though I failed to meet him at the autograph station). 

This is only a short list of the good times we had. It’s hard to put into words all the little things that added up to such a great vacation. I know not everyone gets it, but Gencon has this sense of happiness and acceptance that I don’t find in many other places.  Almost everyone wants to be there. They want to talk to new people and try out new things.** It’s a great experience, and looking back at 2011, the only reason I didn’t have a good time was because of my own personal hangups. In 2012, I was able to let those go and just enjoy myself.

Gencon 2013 is definitely on our to-do list for next year.

*Most people find it better to stay closer. But being lazy by default, the closer I am, the more likely I am to just hole up in the hotel room. With the daily drive, I ensure that I’m going to stay in the convention center and experience the con as much as possible.

**I say almost everyone because I read of a few less than nice comments people at the con said in passing. There was also a woman in a scooter who was actually pretty mean to people in the convention corridor. It was kind of jarring to see someone so miserable in a crowd of happy people.

The Day My FitBit Died

My FitBit stopped working last Saturday.

I’m pretty bummed about it, probably moreso than one should be over a small piece of plastic. But seriously…I had it less than a year, and somehow it had strange motivating powers that made me want to walk more.

For those who are unfamiliar with this gadget, it’s a glorified pedometer that syncs to your computer and tracks steps, miles, flights of stairs, calories burned, and activity levels. You can also use it to track sleep, and if you’re a food tracker type person, you can use the online tools to log what you eat. It also has things for weight loss tracking, and it allows you to unlock badges for daily goals.

I’ve been logging my step numbers, but I haven’t tried to go to the next level. I guess technically you could argue it wasn’t doing a whole lot for me, but I loved using it, and I loved seeing those days when I did more than usual. And I did have days where I would just walk around the apartment in order to break a certain number. Plus, it was going to be fun this coming August when I got to see just how much walking was going to happen at GenCon.

But on Saturday it started glitching out and then just stopped completely. The display no longer showed and it stopped syncing.

I’d like to say I was able to roll with it and continue on with my day, but with the death of my tracker came a mission to find a new one. To the internet I went, first to troubleshoot, then to email the folks at FitBit, then to start looking around for something else.  Because if I have to buy something  new, I’m going to try something new. While I loved the FB, I’m not going to buy a new one every eight months if I can find something that lasts longer.

There are a few on the market that have really good reviews. The best one was probably the Nike+ Fuelband, which you wear like a watch. It tracks everything the FB does and has some other goal setting things. It also links to, and that’s one of those things I’m having fun doing because I like to get rewarded for my points.

There was also the Jawbone UP, which was going to be my first choice since the price was right, but come to find out, they aren’t even selling them right now. I think there were some kinks in the first round of product that they’re trying to work out, but that does me no good right now.

The third choice is one called the Striiv (pronounced “strive”) which is a little bigger than the other ones, but tracks all the same things and includes games and automatic charitable donations for getting so many steps. It tracks other activity too, not just steps, and it offers challenges you can do at any given time. It was the same price as the UP, and it definitely sounds like the most fun, but I’m not sure how user friendly it’s going to be. Wearing the other two on my wrist would make things easy. The FitBit was nice because I could wear it on my bra and it still tracked. I think I read that you could do the same thing with the Striiv, but I’m not sure.  I’d hate to get it and then have a hard time using it because I have nowhere to put it.*

At the moment, I haven’t made a final decision. I’ve sent an email to FB support to see what I can do about getting a new one, because if they’ll replace this one, I don’t have to worry about a new one just yet. But if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll have to sit down and figure something out, because even though this kind of thing isn’t a need, I really do find it helps me stay motivated to have something helping me keep track of any sort of exercise I fit into my day.

If anyone has any suggestions or comments, please let me know. The more  information I have to make my decision, the better.

UPDATE:  The groovy people at FitBit came through for me and are sending a replacement device! So for now, I don’t have to worry about buying anything new. However, there will come a point in the future where I’ll be looking again, so I’m still open to suggestions.