Gen Con 2014 – Awesome, Overwhelming, Exciting and More than Satisfying
There are many reasons to go to Gen Con. Likely the biggest is their slogan “The Best Four Days in Gaming”. While I do game, it was not the main reason I ended up at the 2014 event. I went primarily to meet, record and interview some of the musicians we play at indienation.fm. I also went because Through Gamer Goggles offered me a free space on the floor in their hotel. In short, I had an affordable opportunity. It was my first Gen Con. It was one heck of an experience and I thought I should write about it here.
Pleasantly More than Expected
While I was told this would be a huge event, I now have the hindsight to know that simply telling someone that it is huge does not do the event justice. The Indy Convention Center is, in its own right, huge. Add to it the fact that there are four days of about fifty thousand people interacting twenty four hours a day for four days and you start to get an idea. That said, you don’t actually “get it” until you show up and experience it. I honestly feel that the price of eighty dollars for a four day pass is one excellent deal. I strongly suggest that if you have a chance to attend this event, do so. You will get to experience live music, hundreds of gaming exhibits, people gaming, people in cosplay and people LARPing. It is simply overwhelmingly spectacular.
My Objective, The Musicians
While I have attended many musical events, this one has a much different feel. Most of the time, the events I attend are focused on the music. This event is focused on gaming but also has music. The people who are attending the concerts are attending it because they want to be there and not for beer and or other motives. Furthermore, the musicians at this event are more unique in the sense that most of them are comedy, traditional or Celtic focused. In short the concerts are more intimate than most and, as I will go into later, the audience is much different. If you wish to find out more about the music, follow indienation.fm. There are also other forms of entertainment such as comedy improv and burlesque.
My Secondary Objective, Interview the Exhibitors
While I didn’t intend to buy much, I did get a great deal on some much needed gaming dice at the Chessex booth. I also got a fair amount of free swag. However, what I most enjoyed was sitting down to interview musicians and exhibitors. Again, if you wish to learn more about the interviews, follow indienation.fm. The point to be made here is that these exhibitors were all very awesomely nice. Many also stated that this is the con that they look forward to attending the most. In the process, I also learned much more about games, gaming and some tactics for the games I regularly play. A few of the vendors were even giving out print and play versions of their new releases. Even when not doing interviews, I had the opportunity to try more than a few new games which really helps to make a smart purchase decision. With all of the Gen Con specials, a person who is into games can easily get the cost of the four day pass back in savings.
Even if you don’t have funds to buy much, the amount of information you can gather alone makes it worth the admission. I learned more about detailing my models and gathered more information on supplies and equipment to do so. I left the event with a stack of information and catalogs four inches tall.
The Organizers are Organized
It stands to reason that the organizing and coordination of an event with so many exhibits and attendees is a challenge to say the least. I was most impressed with how quickly they dealt with my last minute application (I was not sure I could attend until the last minute) and how easy it was to get information. They even provide the press with coffee and secure wireless Internet access. Every single person involved in the event and the facility, whether organizer or custodian, was polite, conversational and positive. I honestly can’t recall one worker who didn’t flash a smile at attendees as they passed. It really enhanced the experience and the mood.
Last but Not Least, the Attendees
I have been pushed, shoved, punched and treated rudely at far too many concerts and events. Regrettably, I have even attended concerts where there were riots and people injured. The crowd at the con was nothing like that. Even with about fifty thousand people trying to take in everything, there was no pushing and almost no rudeness. In fact, when someone cut off my line of sight for a photo, a bystander said “hey, he’s trying take a picture” and the violator responded “I don’t give a f**!”, the bystanders responded by booing the a@#hole. In the spirit of the excellent nature of this adventure, I must say that it was a most awesome response.
I was sorry the event seemed to pass so quickly and wish I had more time to explore more of it. It seemed to end the day it began because it went in such a non-stop manner. Readers, if you have the chance, attend this event in the future. I know, if there is any way it is possible, I shall be returning next year.
- A ConQuest at Gen Con (indienation.fm)
- Independent Game Companies at the 2014 Gen Con (indienation.fm)
- Gen Con 2014 report: Indy’s population challenge and tips for the future (examiner.com)
- Independent game makers talk about Kickstarter campaigns, GenCon (fox59.com)