This year, I went to Gen Con for the first time. It will probably be the only time I ever get to go, but I’m not sure I’d make it a point to go back. (I’ll explain below.) This was on my bucket list of things to do, and I did it. One down, only 1,965,097 to go.
My first impression as a first-timer was shock at how many people actually turned out. In gaming circles, it always feels like you exist in a dark shadowy corner of the world that only a handful of others know about. Bringing people together at a convention dispels that, and it’s a positive, empowering feeling. This is especially true because gaming has historically been such a maligned hobby. We all know we’re out there, scattered around the globe, but seeing tens of thousands of us all in one place is very affirming.
For my part, I could only go for one day. I loved being there, and the scale of the event was a complete surprise. There was more available to experience than I could have possibly fit into a single weekend, let alone the one day that I had. This isn’t to complain at all. It was great. It isn’t often I’m in an environment that has so many people that were interested in the same stuff as me. It’s really eye-opening.
What’s more, I was able to meet people who have created products I love playing. Shockingly for me, I met Rob Heinsoo. I’m a bit ambivalent about 4th Edition D&D, but I love Pelgrane Press’s 13th Age. If you like fantasy role-playing games and haven’t played it, I would strongly suggest checking that game out.
The downside that I saw in Gen Con was on the logistical side. It’s cool to have so much, but being there is soooo expensive. The idea that attending Gen Con would be 1,000 or more is entirely possible if someone went all four days. That’s a lot of money. I can’t afford it, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of other people can’t afford it. Then there’s the location.
Gen Con is in Indiana every year. It could move. It was something I kept thinking about while I was there. “Why can’t Gen Con be set in different cities? Or maybe, why can’t there be two Gen Cons? One in Indianapolis, and one in some other city. The other city could then be changed from year to year.
These are just thoughts and ruminations, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I went. It was a good time. Despite, my complaints, I’d love to go again, but I probably won’t. The cost alone means it’s not likely. It’s hard to justify spending that much money on the convention, let alone just four days(!), and I know that there are other conventions closer to where I live. Still, as the gaming convention in North America, it was a positive experience and I would encourage others to go if they’re able.