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.