Sean’s GenCon Advice

22 July, 2011

GenCon is less than two weeks away, sadly, I will not be attending this year.  But I want everyone who is going to have a great time.  So, I thought I would share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.


Pack light, especially if you are flying, take the safe minimum of what you need.  I even take my old toothbrush and a mostly used deodorant so I can abandon them rather than pack them home.  For games you know you are playing, just take the books you know you will need and maybe photocopies of any special things from other books that you character must have.  Additionally, I never bring dice, there are so many great sets available in the dealers hall I just grab one there on the first day (and they make great gifts or something to remember the con with).

Bring food and drinks, fruit, beef jerky, dried fruits. energy bars and such are excellent.  Now while it may seem to contradict the pack light rule above, your own food and drink are consumable and will not be filling space you need on the way back for valuable gaming loot.  And having food and water on hand when you are flagging will make your time at GenCon much more enjoyable.

Know where you are staying and how to get there, have maps, tickets and phone numbers easily accessible.  The peace of mind is well worth it.

At the Con:

Eat, do not neglect the value of a good breakfast and at least one other meal through out the day.  Snacks (see above) can supplement this, but actual meals are important too.

Personal hygiene,  I start and end each day at GenCon with a shower.  Being clean will help you to be relaxed and help your fellow gamers be relaxed too.

Visit the Dealers Hall, tons of great stuff to see and games to try out.  There are lots of promotional material, catalogs and even some free swag.  Remember, it is crowded and full of people seeking the one thing” so be aware of yourself and others.  Getting in and out can take more time than you expect, so plan accordingly.

Try some new games, AEG, Fantasy Flight and the Indie Games crowd (the Forge, IPR and others) and others are happy to show you how their games work in quicktime in the dealers hall and elsewhere there are demo games, some scheduled, some drop in.  There is no better chance to try new games than Gen Con.

Wander, one of the things I really enjoy at GenCon is just walking around, drifting through the various rooms.  Seeing what games are being played, looking at new board games and miniatures.  You may even be invited to join in a game.


Be polite, manners cost nothing and many people will be stressed and tied (especially by the weekend), be polite, friendly, and it will be a more pleasant experience for everyone.

Meet new people,  this is one of the few places you are likely to be where you should be able to have a conversation with just about anyone you meet.  Take advantage of this fact.  Share tables with people.  Talk.  Make friends.

Have fun, GenCon only happens once a year, be relaxed, go with the flow and enjoy yourself.

Have a great time and I hope to catch up with some of you next year!


  1. […] good to learn from the folks who have been there before. Sean Holland at Sea of Stars has a great collection of sage advice for Gen Con attendees… Eating and bathing regularly are things you and the people around you will probably benefit […]

    • Bring REALLY good shoes, Think about getting new padded insoles. If you aren’t used to being on your feet a lot, this can be a life-saver.

      I also pack extra socks and plastic bags. Switching socks partway through the day can do wonderful things for my mood.

      There’s a SubWay a block from the convention centre. This makes for excellent emergency food. And unlike at Origins, I rarely found that the Subway ran out of bread partway through the day.

      And again, WANDER. Especially the dealer’s hall. If you have nothing scheduled, hit the dealer’s hall again and see what demos you can get into. There are more demos to be played than you have time for. Even if you don’t book ANY actual time for games and spend all your time playing demos, four days just isn’t enough for them all.

      • Very good point about the shoes. I also recommend hiking socks (SmartWool is my preferred brand) to help keep your feet happy.

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