Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gen Con 2012

After taking last year off, I'm heading back to Gen Con this year with friends. Everyone approaches the con differently. Here's what works for me.

  • Comfortable shoes and clothes. I'm on my feet a lot at the con.  
  • A backpack with a very slim profile. I like using a water backpack for runners. Once you take out the water bag / bladder, you get a nice slim backpack. I can put 1-3 typical RPG books in it, dice, paper, pads. I pack it light, usually not putting any books in it at all, just dice, paper, and a pad, a couple energy bars / snacks. No sense in carrying all that weight around all day. I like to be comfortable.
  • Generic tickets. I don't usually sign up for anything. There's so much going on that I can be very busy and very happy with generics. I can stop by Games on Demand or one of the Pathfinder Society things or just about any panel or, well, or a lot of things! I don't know. I'll look at the book when I get there, or hear about things from friends who do more pre-convention prep using the schedule.
  • Orc Stomp. I am not a morning runner. But I enjoyed the orc stomp the first time I did it, and I have a friend who wants to do it, so I'll be back this year for the Thursday morning, 8:00 time slot.
  • Sleep. Other than Thursday, I'll tend to sleep in a bit. No rush to morning events. 
  • Food. I like to go to steak houses and pubs and restaurants and the like and enjoy a good meal. I'm on vacation, and I am always ready to spend money on food and drink--I'd rather enjoy a good meal than buy that one more RPG book. 
  • A list of games I'd like to try or would be happy to play. Some of these are new, or new for me (Technoir, Marvel Heroic or Leverage, and other games I don't know I'm interested in yet) and others are old standbys (classic D&D, The Fantasy Trip, Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game). The con is a great place to play a new game that your home group isn't currently running. Also, I find that I tend not to read rule books like I used to. I'd rather try a new game at the con, which might make me more interested in going back and reading its rules.
  • A game I can run. This year I'll have a pick-up game for the rainy city (via B/X D&D or TFT) and something for Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game. Pre-gen characters are a must for these, unless it's a game with fast and easy character creation like B/X D&D. 
  • A plan to stop by the Embassy Suites for after hours gaming. A lot of good gaming happens after dinner each night in the lobby and lounge area at the Embassy Suites. So I plan to go there. It looks like ACKS will be in session, among other things!
  • Friends. I go to Gen Con with friends, and I also go to Gen Con to meet up with friends and acquaintances from the blogosphere, internet, etc. Lunch and dinner, after hours gaming, hanging out a bit at booths (while remembering not to overstay / get in the way--people are working, too). All are chances to meet up with and talk with people. Gaming with them is cool, too, and you don't even need generic tickets to do it. 
  • An appreciation of the glorious weirdness of humanity. There are a lot of people at Gen Con. Fortunately, I like people, and I have a fairly happy mutant / celebratory approach to the diversity of humankind's weirdness. Gen Con is a great place for this. I've talked to and enjoyed gaming with plenty of new folks at Gen Con. Also, I like fandoms. Go ahead and be a fan of something! And you can tell me about it. Look, I'm a fan of Street Fighter. I even care about the "canon" story from the video games. This is irrational--the canon story from Street Fighter is not what actually makes those video games good. But I still care about it. So you can also be passionate about things I am not (yet!), and that's cool, and you can tell me about it. 
  • The ability to use the word "No." ("thank you" goes well with this) You can't do everything and you can't buy everything, so you have to learn to be comfortable saying "No," and "No thank you," and "It was nice talking to you, but I need to be going." You don't have to buy from every sales pitch, so go ahead and browse, and talk to the dealers. Of course, there's a thin line to walk between politely listening and wasting a dealer's time, and it's good to be conscious of that. Likewise, not every game session you get in will work out. If a session really isn't working for me, I excuse myself politely. There are other things to do! Likewise, not every conversation I get in is going to work out. I like people and have a wide tolerance for the diversity of human weirdness, but some people are also bad news. You can only meet new people if you're willing to politely walk away from conversations and contexts that are not so good. 
  • A phone and a portable internet ready device. I don't have a smartphone, so for me this means a cell phone and an ipod touch. For you, maybe this is one device. Phone and internet make coordinating with friends for meals and gaming much easier. 
  • Curiosity. 
Maybe I'll see you there.