GenCon...The Best Four Days Of Gaming
Both of us are no stranger to hearing, "You're such a nerd." Ryne has been into gaming since as far back as he can remember. Mr. Fancy Pants over here apparently beat Super Mario Bros. on the NES when he was 3 years old. I still can't get past the first world without that 1-2 pipe warp (and yes, I had to ask what level jump was called). Growing up the video game world was for boys and most of the board/card/dice games too that weren't made by Milton Bradley. I never had an interest in Magic The Gathering because when it came out, my brother liked it and tried to teach me how to play but so he would always win. The college years brought on the fun party games. It wasn't until I moved to Queens that I was properly introduced to this nerdy game world. My Queens crew got me to play this game called Talisman. Still do this day I have no idea how to play but somehow I managed to win that day. And then there was Munchkin. Steve Jackson Games, you sure know what you're doing. The artwork and comedy in that game could bring anyone to the nerdy side of gaming (The word "nerd" has no derogatory meaning for me and should not be taken that way here). Since then, I have strolled further into the rabbit hole of gaming. This is a long introduction for a recap/review of GenCon but so you know where I'm coming from. Ryne played D&D continuously for roughly 6 years, with Magic and other role playing games (RPGs) thrown in there as well. This was his 12th time attending GenCon to my 3rd. Its been confirmed numerous times, this is his favorite time of the year. It beats any holiday including Halloween. But to be completely honest, it is a lot of fun. Even if you're not the avid D&D player.
GenCon was started in Lake Geneva, WI (hence the name) back in 1968 by the same man who co-created Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax. It moved around a bit but stayed in Wisconsin until 2003 when it moved to Indianapolis. Around 100 people were in attendance. Now, they continuously break records for attendance and have about 60,000!
Walking through the halls of the convention center, you'll see a sea cosplay of everything from Waldo to that guy from Halo to various anime characters. The rooms are filled with people test playing games and learning how to play others. There is a man constructing a weekend long balloon sculpture (this year was a phoenix), around the corner there is huge canvas with a collective painting. Once you enter the hall...Its the perfect nerd shop. There are aisles and aisles of booths with vendors of all sorts. Most of the gaming companies are there from USAopoly to Steve Jackson Games, Upper Deck to Paizo, Exploding Kittens to Catan. You can find fancy new dice sets, Steam Punk clothing and accessories, silly T-shirts, books, art, meet the artists, demo games, buy games, there are even coffee, tea and aromatherapy booths. It's humongous! Even if you walk through it all 4 days, you'll still find something new each time. The most notable booth, I believe, is still Exploding Kittens. It is the most nontraditional booth since its a vending machine with humans inside. Once you make it to the front of the line (and its a long one), you push in buttons of what you would like to purchase: any one of their various games, various plushies or a random item for $1. This mystery item is the most popular item of all of GenCon (outside of the free dice you can get). Some of the items were saw were: Toilet paper rolls, corn, lemons, seedless watermelons, brooms, plungers, bushels of asparagus, kiddy cowboy hats, bags of rocks, and beach balls. It's super entertaining to watch especially since they mimic early 90's computer processes with a pinwheel and signs like "purrrrrossessing" as they gather your items for purchase.
While the vendor hall is huge and one of the main attractions, its not all GenCon has to offer. The second most notable things about GenCon itself are all of the events it has to offer. There's an entire room, almost the same size as the vendor hall completely devoted to paying Pathfinder. Pathfinder is an RPG very similar to D&D (until recently I was under the impressions it was D&D since its always referred to as D&D 3.75). There are 100's of other RPGs you can play, tournaments you can join into, play test games in production and even do things outside the gaming world. I am able to host workout classes which I called, "Workout Like A Rogue". A morning workout to jump start people's day with an endorphin rush before gaming all day but adding elements of a Rogue's characteristics. I took part in an Orc Stomp 5K where you were challenged not only with starting a race at 6:30 in the morning but also to try to beat 3 people dressed as Orcs (I was able to beat 2). Ryne, our friend Rachael and I took a learn to make sushi class with The Sushi Guys. We did a pretty great job if I do say so myself! There are dance classes where you can learn to Waltz, Swing, Poi, Tango and more. Learn knife fighting, make your own foam weapons, distillery tours, how not to suck at storytelling workshops. There really is something for everyone here, even if your not into gaming. There are over 18,000 classes, workshops and events to chose from. Even all the food trucks come out. Georgia Street, just outside the convention center is completely blocked off to cars and both sides of the street are filled with food trucks. It over flows to S Capitol St too. Almost every cuisine is represented in those trucks too. GenCon runs round the clocks during those 4 days too so even some of the local restaurants stay open round the clock to feed these hungry gamers.
I don't care what level of geekery you are in the nerdome, but GenCon is a blast. If you have the opportunity to go, I would highly recommend it.