Gen Con Tips for Newbies

So, I spent last week telling you how not to be a dick around folks with physical challenges at Gen Con. “But, this is my first year! I don’t even know anything about anything about Gen Con.”

Today’s post is for you!

Gen Con can be overwhelming for the first time attendee. We’ve all been there. Bask in the Nerdvana and enjoy it. You’ll never get to experience Gen Con for the first time again. When you walk into the Dealer Hall (or even just join the crowd that’s gathering for the opening, aka the “Running of the Nerds”) it is at once exhilarating and terrifying. When the crowd finally thins and you get in, tens of thousand of square feet of games and game-related merchandise await you. There really is nothing like it on Earth.

Some folks say that for your first year, don’t cram your schedule full of ticketed activities. There’s wisdom in that, and I certain recommend setting aside a large portion of time for the Dealer Hall. Why? Because you can spend all day in there and not see everything. Now, there are some things you’re probably not interested in, that’s fine. But, surely there are some new games you want to try. The Dealer Hall is perfect for that. Almost every booth selling board games has demos running all day and many booths with RPGs are running demos as well. These demos last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and cost absolutely nothing. In theory, you could probably spend all four days playing games for free in the Dealer Hall.

If you have an interest in seeing the best products get recognized, pop by the ENnie Awards on Friday night. It costs nothing to attend and it’s a veritable who’s who of RPG designers and writers. Granted, most of them won’t have much time to socialize with you at the event; that’s what their Dealer Hall hours are for (that, and selling their new games). The ENnie Awards are in the Grand Hall of Union Station again this year, just a short walk from the Convention Center. If the weather is too nasty, you can even get there without going outdoors (though the route is considerably more convoluted, confusing, and quite a bit further).

Don’t be discouraged a game you REALLY want to play in is sold out. Grab some generic tickets and go anyway. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a seat, but some GMs will take an extra player and there might be no-shows. One thing is certain: if you don’t try to get an extra seat, or one of the no-show seats, you definitely won’t get to play. I highly recommend playing in some games you don’t get to play at home. There are tons of games I never get to try with my home group, for a variety of reasons. Were it not for conventions, I would never get to play these games. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite. I know some people who go to Gen Con and spend all four days playing the same game they play regularly every week in their home games. They enjoy it, OK, but for my money, I like to try something new.

Be culinarily adventurous. The food truck lines are epic, but it’s a good opportunity to try new foods. “But, it’s Gen Con! I’m there to game and not eat.” Make a game of it. Create a Food Truck score card and keep track of what you eat. I dunno, play Food Truck Bingo or something. Or heck, just give your taste buds a treat now and again since 95% of Gen Con attendees are eating worse those four days than they do most of the rest of the year.

Hang out in the crossroads Saturday afternoon and bask in the brillance of the parade of cosplayers (technically, it’s the Costume Contest Parade). The artistic talent on display is AMAZING. There are some truly mind-blowing costumes at Gen Con every year. If hanging out isn’t your thing, go to the Costume Contest and sit and watch, then.

Game on and have fun. See you in a few days!

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2 thoughts on “Gen Con Tips for Newbies

  1. Michelle

    What does “Gen Con” stand for?

    • Technically, it doesn’t stand for anything, but Geneva Convention since it started in Lake Geneva, WI.

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