Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2010 Gen Con Report Part 1

Gen Con was the best four days I've had in a long time. Maybe ever. Lots of reasons for that, some more blog-worthy than others. Since I got back I've been sorting through exactly how to handle it on the blog. Should I write a blow-by-blow account of what I did at the con? Write a few separate posts hitting some of the highlights? Attempt to capture the "Gen Con experience" in a narrative essay? Then I decided all of that would be too much dang work, so you get random bullet points. This is just the first batch, and mostly from Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The whole freaking city was full of gamers. Obvious, out, clearly-there-for-the-con geeks of all stripes noticeably outnumbered normal Indianapolis folk and other travelers until sometime Sunday afternoon. Go to a restaurant? Full of gamers. Walk down the street? Full of gamers. Get into an elevator? Full of gamers. It was very much as if Gen Con was its own small town within the larger city. Or as if my online, roleplaying-focused life had moved offline.
  • Being in charge of a trip, on my own, without parents, was wicked cool. This was the first time I've been responsible for anything this big and crazy, and that aspect was one of the best parts of the trip. I didn't always enjoy being the default decision maker, especially towards the end of the afternoon when I'd started to crash a bit, but the other members of my posse were able to mostly pick up the slack when necessary. I did love being able to build a trip around what I wanted to do from start to finish, and even more than that really enjoyed deciding to do something crazy and then making it happen. I'm used to being responsible for myself at college, but a lot of times that descends into the lowest energy state of the daily grind. Planning and executing Gen Con was active, not reactive, and that was very rewarding.
  • Hanging out with Trollsmyth was deeply weird, but also a lot of fun. I hadn't met any online friends in person before this, so simultaneously getting "I've known you for over a year" and "total stranger" signals was a new and exciting flavor of cognitive dissonance. Luckily, we had Gen Con, so it didn't take long for my social processing to catch up with -- Oh yeah! Trollsmyth is the guy I geek out about gaming stuff with.
  • The dealer hall is like the coolest game store in the world. Seeing a lot of RPG stuff I'd only read about online before was neat, and meeting the people responsible for some of it was extra-neat. There's also a lot of stuff besides RPGs at the dealer hall -- costume pieces, dice, game tables, and other things where the actual physical experience is the whole point of the thing.
  • Trollsmyth and I were both more or less mystified by the map/program. It took like an hour to really figure out how all the sub-maps fit together, and even then there was a lot of stuff on there that we simply didn't discover until our second day at the con. We'd be terrible adventurers. But the con is also very big, and very complicated, especially once you start trying to figure out where events are in the connected hotels.
  • Seminars are really cool. We ended up only making Girls Just Wanna Get Their Game On and GMs Jam 2010 this year, which were both great. Next year I'd like to do more, and I'll probably spend a little more time finding interesting looking ones before the con; I didn't have that many picked out this year to begin with, and we skipped a couple I had picked on account of hungry, or just other things I wanted to get done.
  • The Embassy Suites has its reputation as gamer central for a reason: tons of table space.
  • Dogs in the Vineyard is fun. Not going to replace old school D&D as my staple game any time soon, but getting a chance to play with Tim and some of his friends in person was great. Unfortunately Thursday was the day with my highest energy high (boy, was I wired that morning in Panera) and my corresponding lowest low later that evening, which hit right around the middle of that session, and it'd been entirely too long since I'd had a bit of actual table play, so I was much quieter than I could or should have been. Still, a good time.
  • Pict-o-phone is also fun. Tim had to take off after the Dogs game, but a couple of his friends stuck around and taught us this excellent thing. Basically it's a cross between the telephone game and Pictionary. Everyone has a stack of cards, writes a sentence on the first one, and hands the stack off to the next person. They have to draw that sentence on the next card, and then hand the stack off again, and the person who gets that stack has to write a new sentence based on the picture, without referencing the original sentence. A couple of rounds of this is a recipe for endless hilarity. Especially when someone thinks it's funny to write things like "For whom the bell tolls" and "A mighty fortress is our God" on his starting cards.


  1. Especially when someone thinks it's funny to write things like "For whom the bell tolls" and "A mighty fortress is our God" on his starting cards.

    Your friends must have very odd senses of humor. ;)

  2. Gen Con can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you've seen it, organizing your time becomes a little easier.

    It was great meeting you and Brian in person, and AJ and Andy! We should get together over Skype again soon for Spirit of the Century.

  3. It was great meeting you guys. We'll need you on our GM's Jam panel next year! I'm so glad you were able to make it to Gen Con and my hometown!

  4. Gencon is always a combination of "yay, my people" and "dear god, my people" for me.

  5. The real question is, what fat loot did you make out with? :D Preferably the cool stuff us non-attendees missed~

  6. Glad to see you had fun at GenCon 2010. It was nice to meet you after the GM Jam. I look forward to seeing any reports about your all girl RPG group. I think that will be a rather interesting.

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