by Terence Jason Dorman, Awesome Manager of Inspired Writings
Gen Con 2012 is a mere two weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited. Gen Con is essentially the highlight of my year and I start looking forward to it the moment I step through my door after getting home from the most recent Gen Con.
This is my fourth Gen Con and the first one I’ll have the pleasure of playing at in five years. My first Gen Con, 2007, was all Spoils. Team Hopper and I went specifically for The Spoils and, unless we were eating or sleeping, you would find us in the Spoils tournament area. The same can be said for most of Team Hopper in 2010 and 2011 (some players jumped from Spoils to WoW) with the obvious exception of myself, who was Head Judge for both of those Gen Cons and didn’t get a chance to play.
In the three years I have attended Gen Con, I have had the pleasure of picking up some tools of the trade regarding how to get through such a hectic weekend. If you’ve gone before then you know how tiring, chaotic, and amazing it can be. If you haven’t, though, read on for some tips about how to get through The Best Four Days in Gaming.
Make Time for the Exhibitor Hall
Gen Con always features an amazing Exhibitor Hall that features dealers, artists, gaming companies, demonstrations, and more. The best way to think about it is a shopping center dedicated to gamers that is jam packed into one Hall in a convention center. You could easily spend half a day in the Exhibitor Hall just checking out all of the different booths, so make sure you allot some time to get in there and check out the booths. Gaming is definitely fun, but shopping certainly can be too!
Don’t Bring Everything Every Day
Gamers have a lot of stuff. We have decks, we have dice, we have miniatures, sometimes we even have swords. Problems arise, however, when we try to bring all of that with us wherever we go. This is usually pretty feasible at our local gaming store, but at an event like Gen Con, it could create some issues. First, Gen Con is jam packed with people, so bringing all of your stuff will likely make it difficult to walk around. Second, unless you only play one game, you are likely to be walking around a lot between events. Carrying extra weight will make those walks more unpleasant than they have to be, so ditch the weight!
When you get to your hotel each night, take a look at your schedule for the next day and try to pack your bag so you are only bringing what you need. There really isn’t much need to bring your Magic decks if you only plan on playing Spoils events all day.
Gen Con can certainly be overwhelming when you look at the number of games and events that are held there. Thankfully, those events are listed months in advance AND there is a book you can get at the convention that contains all of them. Be sure to check out the event listings as early as possible to get an idea of what events you want to partake in. By doing this, you can budget and pack accordingly, which certainly makes any trip easier and more fun. This also leads into my next tip.
Get Your Tickets Early
This may not be an issue for you, but I’ve seen plenty of people get burned by this in the past. Simply put, getting your tickets early guarantees that you have a spot in the events you want to play in and that you don’t have to go back to the ticket booth during the convention. The ticket booths were a madhouse last year (although Gen Con has stated that they have addressed the issue for this year) and you should want to avoid them whenever possible. Plus, getting your tickets early gets some of your money out of your wallet early, that way you don’t accidentally spend your National Championships entry money on a cool steam punk hat.
It is likely that you will be very busy playing in events and scouring the Exhibitor Hall for sweet deals. You may be so busy that you forget to eat. I know it has happened to me and it is awful. As such, make sure you take the time to eat at least three meals a day. The food options at Gen Con aren’t the best as far as healthy foods go, but there are plenty of places to go both in the convention center and in Indianapolis itself. Eating will keep you energized, brighten your mood, and keep you fueled for all day/night gaming. Plus, Steak N Shake is absolutely delicious and you should eat there always.
Be Prepared to Not Sleep
This may just be a Team Hopper issue, but I have never slept well at Gen Con. Between the four years I have gone, I have probably averaged three hours of sleep a night, if that. This is a combination of four-five people sharing one shower, early morning events, late night events, and late night playtesting. If you expect to partake in Gen Con like we do, know that you probably won’t sleep properly until you are back on the plane/in the car going home. If you are more sensible than us, however, you can probably sleep an appropriate amount of time and not require as much caffeine as we do to get through the weekend.
This one kind of falls under the “Plan Ahead” tip, but I feel like I should take a moment to give a bit more detail. Basically, if you plan on playing in a lot of events, ticket prices could add up. Personally, I expect to be spending between $200 and $250 at this year’s Gen Con on tournament entry alone. Add food and Exhibitor Hall money to that and it is an expensive weekend. This is my vacation so I don’t mind it (and plan for it), but I certainly wouldn’t want anyone going to Gen Con for the first time and thinking it is going to be a cheap weekend (if you plan on gaming and not just browsing).
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes an event like Gen Con can cause us gamers to forget this important tip. Gen Con features a lot of major/championship events for the games we love, so sometimes we get caught up in competing and forget that we are gaming. Gaming is fun and always should be, so no matter how hard you may be competing, remember that Gen Con is meant to be a time for all gamers to celebrate gaming, game hard, and have an absolute blast!
See you all at Gen Con!
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