For the week of 8/20/09
Photos also taken by Ezra Mann, Gen Con Gallery can be found here: Indy Pictures
A roll of the dice: A newb’s attempt to shake up geek destiny
The official RPP Gen Con 2009 Wrap-up
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)
At a second glance my title would also be appropriate for a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, but that’s a hygiene lacking event for another occasion. My first con event began almost exactly the same way as the previous attempts to justify being a part of a dork litmus test.
The only thing separating me from other attempts to go to Indianapolis was that I really did not have the money to go this time (Funny how unemployment redefines how poor you thought you were with a paycheck). Yet, Battletech, one of the few activities that did not drive me away during high school was turning 25 and to be a proper geek you need a rite of passage like Gen Con. I finally decided to suck it up and fall into the nerdgasm a couple of weeks before it started and now chalk it up as one of the best trips I’ve made in my life so far (Course I also have a certain fellow with a Urbie fetish to thank for letting me stay at his house).
Though this may not be typical of the con environment, I’d like to give props to both the people running the show and those who did not odorfy it. The only time I came close to arguing with the staff was about the 300th time I heard them tell people to take backpacks off while in line for a badge (not that the bag being removed from a person’s back will make the line move any more efficiently or faster).
That said; everything went rather smoothly even if you waited like me until the day before to pay for admission. The people playing also were a lot less stinky than I’d heard in horror stories and unfortunately I did not find a reason to douse anyone in deodorant. I tell ya if you can’t depend on gamers to be stereotypical in every aspect, then what can you believe in?
While most events were easy to find, it could get confusing very fast for those not used to the con environment. On one occasion I was late to a game because it was listed in the 500 ballroom when there were three locations with the same name (even some staff were unsure where I should have gone in that quest).
The map was a help on some level, but presented a problem in the exhibit hall because there was no real order or common theme to the overall booth locations. Eventually I relied more on visual aid to help find what I wanted, but that could also end up being a bit nerve-racking, which could send you in a few circles. My suggestion for next time would be to offer improved (quantity and quality) directional signs and for a little less scatter among the venders.
The games were about as fun as they could be from the demos to the tournament qualifying rounds. Where else but a gaming convention could you play the gambling heavy Solaris matches for Battletech, a card game like Arena Assault, Cthulhu Tech, Dungeons and Dragons as well as Thunder Hamsters and the Temple of Cheese (a very disturbing moment that I eventually won) all in one week?
You could know everything about a game, know nothing at all or need a refresher and you would have been treated the same by those running each experience. Personally I went to just soak up all that was to be offered, but I wanted to keep playing even when I was beat at the end of each day. I figured the best course of action in that case was to attempt some sleep instead of creating an avalanche of game bits if I had crashed around three in the morning.
Why there was something for people who wanted to only sit around and listen to semi famous people talk. The panels were a nice way for some to learn about the latest in their favorite gaming world or in my case, learn how to better pimp my unique sense of humor.
I found some particularly helpful information in Howard Taylor’s wisdom (he created the Web comic Schlock Mercenary) when he spoke about the science of humor and the free content business model. The key thing I found true and did beforehand is that letting your audience use their imagination will always win more laughs than if you try to explain everything. For those of you considering running a booth next year, Taylor’s advice on being nice to your visitors works much better than staring at them like they are all bottom feeders (I left one booth because one of the famous “humor singers” didn’t act like he was interested in anything more than praise).
Instead of further putting you to sleep by examining every single detail; I had a lot of fun letting loose at Gen Con. If you have ever thought about going and have not, go, because it will at least be one less thing you mope about when other people share their experiences.
Sure, like most things going to something like this only gets pricier every year, but I know that it sure beats only being able to compare the lameness of summer blockbusters on a message board. I was as pleased as I could be that I met fans of this Web site and that so many people planned to stop by even if I am a bit on the quirky side. In fact, if I get a chance to do it all over again the only question on my mind would be why it couldn’t last longer.