GenCon 2014

I made it to GenCon for the first time. I had planned to go to the whole thing this year, but I had a major presentation that I had to do near St. Louis. However, I decided to go anyway.

I did not get there until after 6:00 PM on Friday as I visited some friends near St. Louis that I had not seen in a long time.

I missed out on the Exhibition Hall, as it closed at 6:00 PM. (This was a hazard of deciding to just do it and registering when I got there.)

The benefit of this is that I was able to figure out where everything was. WARNING: The Indianapolis Convention Center is HUGE! If you have never been take advice I read last year from a first time attendee, I forget who it was. Have a bottle of water and a snack,just in case. I suggest also comfortable well-fitting shoes. I got a blister on one toe. I also suggest having a room at one of the downtown hotels and planning to stay until the morning after your last day, so you can get cleaned up as you go. The mid-west is usually very hot a humid in August, but it was very mild this year. However, thousands of bodies in a huge convention center pressed together make it very warm. I sweat through my shirt, socks, and underwear, making things very uncomfortable today.

I did not sleep more than a couple hours last night. I just laid there not sleeping, so I got up and wandered around.

The Exhibition Hall opened at 10:00 AM and I wandered all over until about 12:30 PM. I bought a d30 and battle mat from Chessex and a second set of Game Science dice, and a poster from Inkwell Ideas, and art from Jeff Easley and Larry Elmore. I saw a lot more I wish I could buy. I’ll post pictures of my goodies later.

Overall, I thought it was just too big. I think that is mostly because I had never been and a lot of volunteers did not have answers to my questions, and I showed up late Friday.

The thing I most disliked is for either $50 for a single day, or $80 for four days, MOST of the events other than the Exhibition Hall, auction, and a few others, required paying MORE MONEY to attend. This INCLUDED the organized game play. I can agree with paying to be in a fancy tournament if it has decent prizes, but pay to play just rubbed me wrong. Because I got their late Friday, it was too late to get in on most events I was interested in, so I wondered and observed. I liked that I could at least wander around and observe all the game play.

If there was a sanctioned or organized way to arrange pick up games or anything, I never found it. My impression is that a pick up game would most likely occur if your friends from your regular group, or your GenCon buddies decided to get together.

I have been to other game conventions, and there was no additional fees to join in organized play or even tournaments. I don’t know if the fees at GenCon are only secondarily about the money with a primary emphasis on trying to organize 20 or 30,000 players.

As I mentioned earlier, I wandered the Exhibition Hall until 12:30 and got all the things I limited myself too. I could never afford all that I wanted…. By this time I was starving. They have food inside the convention center, like pizza, subs, etc. I was tired of this, so I went out to the pedestrian mall outside the convention center, where they had a dozen or so food trucks. I found an excellent BBQ truck, I forget their name, but it is local to Indianapolis. If I can find the name, I will add it.

Getting food helped. I recommend not getting to the point of tired, sweaty, and hungry. I should have taken a break rather than do a marathon session of seeing all the exhibitors. I ended up very frustrated that I could not find Howard Taylor of Schlock Mercenary. I conflated the last convention he attended with GenCon and thought he had a booth. He was actually joining Tracy Hickman of XDM games, I see now that I am home. He also did a signing that I learned of about a half hour AFTER it ended. Part of that was my confusion and I did not pick up on the book signing reading the guidebook/schedule. It is probably in there correctly, I think I just had information overload.

I was cranky. I felt a lot better after I ate, but I was still sweaty and had a blister working on one toe. Solving hunger did not help. I decided I was past the point of having fun, so I headed home. On my way out, I passed Frank Mentzer who was going in the opposite direction. I had wanted to talk to him, but by that time, I did not care.

I drove about an hour and had to pull over at a rest stop and snoozed for a couple hours. After that I felt like a new man. Thus my recommendation to keep a room in a hotel nearby until the day AFTER you are done with the convention. Have plenty of clothes so you can go to your room and shower and get a nap.

I left thinking I never wanted to attempt to go back. A lot of that was brought on by being tired. After my snooze I wished I wasn’t an hour away from the convention and started thinking I might actually try to go again next year.

I now know that I will need to save up for a fancier hotel downtown for at least a couple nights, or more if I do all four days. I will need money to attend all the things I want. I will have to review the activities BEFORE it starts so I can plan what to do. As long as GenCon is in the same place, one can plan for the next year. I am also thinking that I really should go to GaryCon, since I always wanted to go to GenCon when it was still in Lake Geneva. Being a smaller Con, I am sure it will have a lot less of the chaos and frustration that a megacon has.

I’m not 100% set on GenCon next year. I will be a grandfather in January, and I expect to be spending a lot of time with my new grandchild. Five years or so  until Disney World, maybe ten until a major Con, time will tell.

RIP Robin Williams

I wrote the following on my IRL Facebook page:

With all the terrible things in the world, we can always use those who can help us laugh.

We lost a man who had a great gift in helping us laugh.

We need to find the joy in life and never forget to laugh.

There are no fancy words of wisdom to answer all the whys.

The world can be a shitty place.

People can be mean, nasty, and evil to others.

There are problems much worse in other parts of the world and in someone else’s shoes.

Don’t let the darkness win.

Stand up for what is right, and fight when you must; but don’t forget to live, love, and laugh.

Guardians of the Galaxy

I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy tonight.

It is very good and I recommend it.

I had not hear of this comic book series until the movie.

I’m not big on comics. I will read them if they are available to me, but I never got into spending a lot of money on them. I had my brother doing that, so I enjoyed his comics. Late 80’s/ early 90’s X-Men, The Dark Night, and a few others I don’t recall.

My one complaint was it felt rushed.

It definitely left me wanting more.

I like towards the end of the credits, there is the line: “No raccoons or tree people were harmed in the making of this motion picture.” LOL