|Date:||August 14th - 17th|
Gen Con is a HUGE gaming convention located in Indianapolis, IN every year for more than 45 years and hopefully forever. It’s tagline is the Best 4 days of Gaming and they don’t lie. If you like board games, dice games, card games, video games, or anything at all to do with games you will LOVE Gen Con. But it can be a bit overwhelming if you have never been there before so I came up with the top 10 things every first time Gen Con goer should know.
Gen Con is a convention all on its own and if you have never been you should go at least once for one day. Though I guarantee you will want to go all four days the next year. I will try to help you through your first experience at Gen Con based on my own learn as I go experiences.
Don’t be afraid:
If you have never been to a convention before remember to breath. It will all be ok. It can be a bit overwhelming at first but once you learn where everything is and can navigate the crowd you will be just fine. The crowd is actually really easy to navigate if you remember your manners. 99% of the people in that crowd are the most polite people I have ever come across. If you get pushed they say sorry and excuse me.
Buy your badge online and early. Start looking at the events they have online and buy tickets for those early too. They sell out pretty quick. If you aren’t sure what events you want to do you can buy generic tickets. If you buy them online you won’t have to wait as long to pick them up.
You should also bring a backpack or something to carry your wallet, some snacks, water bottle (or drink) and the program guide in. This also gives you a place to put any purchases like games or collectibles.
As far as planning for food you should bring snacks but there are snack stations throughout the convention that serve things like pretzels, nachos and even fruit and there is a cafe type place that serves pizza, salads and sandwiches. Not too high in price either but also you could walk over to the Circle Center Mall and grab food or there are usually a TON of food trucks outside.
Parking can get pricey so you might find a decent place to park and walk a few blocks. There is parking nearby but I am not sure on the cost. Your best bet if you don’t have a hotel room is to park where your car is safe and catch a bus to and from or carpool and split parking costs. My son and I usually get dropped off by my husband when he can’t go on certain days and he parks where he works and buses it or walks depending on time.
Events are things like tournaments for certain games, how to build a foam weapon or shield, various How-to’s, playing certain games like True Dungeon and a whole lot of other things. Including the Game Library. You will want to check out the Gen Con website and see what events are being offered the day or days you will be there to see if you want to get tickets for any of them.
If you aren’t sure about something you can ask on their facebook page or even email the person running the event any questions you have. Again, you can buy generic tickets and get into some of the same things like games and certain rooms using them.
The Game Library is exactly that, a library of games. You can go and check out a game and take it to a table or bring your own in. If you are by yourself they can give you a flag that shows you are looking for players or you can find such a flag and jump in on a game.
The Game Library is a room in the convention hall (which will be marked in the program guide) that will cost about 6 or so tickets per day to get in. You get a ticket in another color for the day to show you paid and then you can come and go as you please. It also doesn’t close…as far as I know anyway. This is a great area to try new games. Which brings me to the next item…
Try new things:
Do not be afraid to try new things. There are an insane amount of vendors in the vendor hall and each booth is either selling items or games but most booths are also demoing their games. This gives you a chance to try out a ton of new games and you never know what you are going to like. If you have never tried a deck building game or maybe you have always been curious about an RPG type game now is your chance to try them all. They have games for everyone in the vendor hall AND games in various rooms and one giant gaming hall.
The rooms through out the convention center will have company games in them with just games to play from one company. One banquet hall is devoted to Pathfinder normally and to be honest I haven’t even seen some of the rooms they have but you should check out the program guide to plan your events, games or plan for the day (days).
Every convention has Cosplayers. These are people who come dressed in a costume as a character from a game, movie, tv show or even a book. Do not be afraid…they are just people in a costume. Also, don’t be rude. These are people in a costume NOT the character they are portraying so treat them with consideration and respect just like you would anyone else.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for their picture. Either with them or by themselves Cosplayers are 99.9% always up for getting their picture taken. If you are bringing kids you should let them dress up. They will love it and it is so much fun! There is a Costume parade on Saturday where anyone dressed up is welcome to join but it is worth a watch for sure. Very good costumes!
Gen Con never really closes. By that I mean the vendor hall closes at a certain time each day but the Game Library stays open and you can always find a table or floor space in the hallways to play games or have a snack. This means you can stay as long as you like or can stay awake.
Even if you go for just one day you will have so much fun. My son and I prepare our snacks, games and spend the entire 4 days playing games and trying new things. We are both there from about 10 am until at least 11 pm and I have to convince him to leave. My husband goes at least 2 days but is there in the Game Library or hallways gaming every evening when my son and I are done. My daughter will experience her first full day this year at nearly 4 years old as she usually has had a sitter. It will be a full family day and I am sooo excited to share this with her.
The people are a mix of every kind of geek out there but you will not find a group this large that is THAT friendly. I usually have trouble with large groups because everyone seems to be so rude but not here. Never at Gen Con. Gen Con is an amazing convention and is fantastic for families. There is even a Family day on Sunday where the Family Pavilion which is dedicated to children’s activities has even more for kids.
Remember don’t panic, plan ahead and get badges and tickets early, try new things and have fun. You will NOT regret going.