Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gen Con 2010

I finally made it to my very first Gen Con this year! I only attended on Saturday, but I had a blast and hope to be able to attend more than one day in the future.

Gen Con is a staple of table-top gaming conventions; I’d say it’s the king. It seems like there’s never been a time I haven’t known of it. It moved to Indianapolis in 2003, which is close enough to me that I could at least make a day trip for one day. But for some reason I never managed to get around to it. This year, since my wife writes about computer games and I review books, we decided to try to make the trip. I could only get one day off from my day job though, so Saturday we got up at three o’clock in the morning and drove to Indy.

Our first stop was to meet some of Rubi’s coworkers for breakfast away from the con – next time we go, we’re doing the Tracy Hickman Breakfast. I’ve been hearing for years that it’s awesome, but since we only had one day this year, we had to scant time to do much. After breakfast, we drove into Indy proper and hit the convention center. Once checked-in, we flipped through the program to decide what to do.

While planning, we ran into a great cosplayer dressed as Darth Vader. A costumed violin player quickly set up near him while there was a crowd around and started playing the Star Wars theme, then transitioned into the Imperial March. That was a thing of beauty – impeccable timing and great talent! I really enjoy seeing all the costumes at cons.

Our first stop was the exhibition hall. We could have spent days in the exhibition hall. Especially with unlimited funding! I found so many things I wanted to purchase for myself, and for my family. One thing for future trips: we need to demo more games while in the exhibition hall.

As we were walking through the exhibition hall, Rubi found the line to see the cast of The Guild. I think the line stretched to Gary, Indiana and back. Rubi was crazy about speaking with Felicia Day in-person since she got to interview her for Massively Speaking, and she wasn’t able to swing an in-person interview during Gen Con for some reason. She opted to catch the after-lunch line instead of the current one.

We eventually made it to the Asmadi Games booth, where we had planned on replacing our missing We Didn’t Play Test This At All card game that we bought at PAXEast. However, they had a combo-deal that was too good to pass up – we got the card game, plus all its expansion decks, and the game Win, Lose, Banana! This purchase made the entire family happy. We also demo’d WDPTTAL, so we all got Cake! (That’s a card similar to the Banana card, only with Cake featured instead.)

By this time, we needed lunch. I’m cheap, so we hit the mall food court. After foodage, we headed back to the exhibition hall to make our round-about way to the line to see Felicia Day. Our first stop though was the art show. I was so impressed by the talent on display there. I see fantasy and science fiction art frequently and I know someone has to create that, but seeing the art right there on canvas with the artist sitting in front of it really brought that home for me. I saw more than one tip jar in the various art booths as well, to feed “starving artists”. They deserve every penny.

Authors’ Row was next to the art exhibit, so of course I had to stop and see if anything interested me. (Note to self: don’t do this anymore unless you plan on taking more money with you, or blatantly asking for review copies.) I did find several interesting books and Rubi talked me into buying one that sounded interesting to all of us. I traded business cards with another author, who upon reading my card, asked if I wanted a review copy. Of course I do! But only if the author is okay with giving me one. This author had a very nice hard-back ARC of his novel that had been autographed to another fan. The book had a small ding on the spine and the fan didn’t like that. Also, that fan had a very unusual name so the author couldn’t “recycle” the book for another fan with the same name. I happily took that copy and will be reviewing it soon. A few booths away was the artist who did the cover art for that book. His signature now adorns the cover of my review copy.

As we were wandering through the art exhibit, Rubi noticed a sign declaring an artist that did concept art for her favorite MMO would be there later. Later being while she was in-line to see Felicia Day. We walked her down to the line, where she’d have to wait for an hour or more, and returned to the art and author exhibit to finish our browsing and make finalize our purchases. Then went over and chatted with the artist for a bit. Rubi’s co-worker Justin asked some great questions and the artist was nice enough to provide some great answers.

A fun part of this trip was bringing our oldest daughter, Lizzy, with us to Gen Con. She’s been itching to go to a con, loves seeing the cosplayers, and wanted to pick up some con swag if possible. While Rubi was in line, I took our daughter around and she managed to get some fun buttons and some kind of plushy manga character. Rubi’s coworker Justin, hung out with us most of day too. That was a blast. I wish we had had more time to hang out with him and his family. While taking Lizzy around, Rubi called me to let me know she was almost at the front of the line and I needed to come take pictures. I sent Lizzy off to see the costume parade and visit the manga library while I met back up with Rubi and took pictures of her with the cast of The Guild.

After that, we decided, since it’s a gaming con, we had to at least try one game. We visited the Rio Grande Games room where Justin introduced to Dominion, which we must soon purchase. We enjoyed playing Dominion. We really should do more actual gaming next time we do Gen Con. While Rubi, Justin, and I played the game, Lizzy made it back to us and hung out for a few minutes, then went back to the exhibition hall to take some video on her phone.

I honestly don’t remember exactly what we did next. But eventually we ended up sitting on the floor near a pillar and playing We Didn’t Play Test This At All until Justin had to leave to meet back up with his family for their trip home.

After a quick dinner, in the mall again (next time, we must feast at the Red Dragon Inn), we got in line for our final event of the evening: The Guild panel. That was very fun, and Lizzy decided she needed to start watching The Guild. After the panel, we made our three hour drive back home and were in bed by midnight.

Long day, but well worth it. We all had a blast and now we’re jonesing for the next con we can go to as a family. Rubi’s heading out to PAX in September, but I won’t be able to go with her this time. I’m look for some inexpensive, closer to home, smaller cons that maybe we can do. We’ve already missed InConJunction this year, but there’s ConGlomeration a ways off around Easter next year.

Thanks to Gen Con for providing Sporadic Reviews with a media pass. I’ll get my reviews of the books I acquired at the con posted as soon as I can.

Yes, my wife took that picture. We walked by, and I said "Hey, I should get my picture taken with them!" in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge voice. Rubi answered "Don't think I won't take that picture, get over there!"

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