Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GenCon 2011 is Official

It's official.  I will be attending my second GenCon this August.  I purchased my badge yesterday and was able to score the room I wanted this morning when housing opened.  All that is left to do is to purchase a flight a bit later in the year once I decide exactly when I want to leave and return.

My first GenCon was in 2009.  Although I've always wanted to attend it took all these years for me to get there.  And to be honest, my trip to Indianapolis just sorta happened.  Summer is the busiest time of year for my business and taking off for a week was pretty much impossible.  However, if I remember correctly, it was late June or July when I realized I had a break in my summer schedule and could actually pull this off.  On a whim, I purchased a badge just before preregistration closed and somehow found a room about two blocks away.  The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Indianapolis for my first GenCon.

I had no idea what to expect and it became readily apparent that I was completely unprepared for the experience.  The venue was confusing (for me) and the sheer number of events/attractions was quite overwhelming.  I stumbled in line to purchase event tickets and quickly realized I had no idea what I wanted to do.  To make matters worse, when I did finally manage to choose a few events, I found out they had been sold out for months (mainly the miniature classes).  I purchased a handful of generic tickets and hoped for the best.

Downtown Indianapolis.

It also became apparent that I chose the wrong hotel.  One of the facets of a convention I most looked forward to was that of open gaming.  Reading several posts on the GenCon forums fueled my imagination with visions of playing games all night in the hotel.  My particular hotel was a bust however.  I lurked in the lobby each night hoping to spy some friendly gamers that needed an extra person but all I manged to find was a few guys playing a TCG one night.  Epic fail.

Though I was completely at a loss about how these things worked, I still managed to have a good time.  I attended a few seminars about writing and one about game design.  I was also able to work in several game demos, one of which I purchased and play heavily still today.  I spent quite a bit of time in the exhibitor hall drooling over all the games and merchandise, both new and old school and was able to pick up several "collector" pieces for game systems that I had been wanting for a descent price.  The miniature vendors held my attention on and off for several days as did the booths selling dice (I think I may have a dice fetish).  But most importantly, it was nice simply being surrounded by hundreds of other folks who enjoy the same games and hobbies that I do.  That means so much when you live on a small island where gaming is rare or non-existent.

I want them all!!

What I missed out on during the first year, I hope to make up for during this next visit.  I will preregister for events on the day they open so that I am assured of a spot.  I've also greatly increased my chances to participate in pick-up/open gaming as much as possible by booking a room at the new JW Marriott complex where much of that activity will take place.  Bringing some of my own games to play with others is also an option I will consider (depending on my gaming obsessions at the time).  By being prepared and proactive (and no longer a GenCon virgin), I hope to make this year the GenCon I've been dreaming about.

So, how many of you will be attending the show this year?

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