Not long ago I talked to Stu Venable about representing DoucheyDM.com at GenCon in an official capacity. He gave me the go ahead to use the blog as a way to garner a press pass. Well wouldn’t you know it, it worked! So there I was with a press badge and a mission. I was going to my first ever full weekend of GenCon, and with press credentials even! The next several weeks were a rollercoaster. I had a ride, then I didn’t have a ride, then I did again. I didn’t have anywhere to stay, then I did, then I didn’t, etc. Finally after much thought and deliberation, I decided that going for a full four days would not be a good option for me. After that decision I was looking for a way to tell Stu that I was going to have to sully the name of the podcast. Either that, or find someone to take my place. I recorded a video for my Portly Paladin YouTube, and my sister in law saw it. Being the awesome person she is she suggested that she drive my wife and I to Indianapolis early in the morning on Saturday, drop me off, and then the two of them would have an adventure in Indy themselves.
That leads me to the purpose of this article. I think its fairly timely too. There are lots of things to do at GenCon and if you’re only going for one day and on a tight budget it can seem overwhelming. Since I did this same thing last year, I’m going to give you some tips.
-Get the Gencon app. It has all the pertinent information you’ll need, right at your fingertips. Granted if you get a swag bag(and you SHOULD), you should also have a program, but this is much more convenient. There are maps, schedules, event descriptions, etc.
Make a plan. Once you have the app and get a chance to look at what’s going on and where everything is, you can start to make your plan. For example my current overall focus is to talk to and interview as many people as possible, and meet as many people as I can that I know from online.
-Make a packing list, and make it count. Include hand sanitizer, a refillable water bottle(there are water stations all over the convention center), and snacks. In my case I will also be taking a camera, notebooks, pens, etc. If you have a favorite game, you could possibly even bring it with you and get it signed.
Carry a bag of some sort that will be comfortable for you to tote around all day. I take a messenger bag. It keeps things sorted efficiently and lays comfortably across my back.
-Get something to keep your badge out of the way but visible. A lot of the time the swag bag will have something, but if not you can buy cheap holders at places like Office Max. And if you go by a different name on the internet, its not a bad idea to make a second one with your online name. Mine will of course have one that has “SirGuido” in large letters on it.
-Be flexible, but be on time. Events have specific start and end times and its not cool to show up late. Sometimes these events can go over time, it happens. If it does happen don’t be a dick. Just excuse yourself politely and go on to your next event.
-Go to the vendor hall. This is by far the biggest experience you will have at GenCon. There will be vendors of all sizes selling just about anything you can imagine. This is also the place where you will meet the most people. In my case, this is where I will be doing most of my interviewing and learning the most about the games you guys want to know about.
-Don’t be too much of a fanboy. GenCon is practically littered with the names you’ve seen on products at your local game store for years. A lot of these people are cool, a lot of them will talk to you. Give them their time and their space though, don’t freak out on people. That’s not cool in any situation.
Take a breather when you need it. Yes you only have a day to be here, and yes there is a lot to see and do, but you need to relax and enjoy the time you’re here or you won’t want to come back next year. So when you get a little winded, or your feet hurt, sit down.
-Lastly, play some games! The vendor hall is usually crowded with people who are there for you to check out their new stuff. Sometimes certain booths can be very crowded for sure, but check some things out. When you get a chance, sit down and demo something. If the vendor hall is too much for you there is the board game room where you can go in and play some games with people and have a good time. There is also the games on demand room where they are running rpgs on demand all day long.
I think the biggest key here is to remember that you are at GenCon to have a good time. Let that happen. Don’t push yourself, don’t push other people, and have realistic expectations. Don’t expect to meet Wil Wheaton and become best friends. Don’t walk in thinking a hundred people will want to talk to you. Just go in as a fan of games who is looking to learn more about the industry and the people who are part of it.
If there is anything you would like me to learn about, or people you would like me to interview, please send me an email at sirguido1 at gmail dot com. I will do my best to get as much out of my day as I can.
Filed under: Misc