Sean’s GenCon Advice 201614 July, 2016
GenCon is about three weeks away, so, I thought I would (again) 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 when I fly to GenCon. 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 (or pack them into an e-reader). 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 a momento of the con).
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. A refillable water bottle is another good investment (I have used a Nalgene similar to this one for years without problems), getting dehydrated at the Con is just not fun.
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.
Bring comfortable shoes and socks, GenCon is not where you should be breaking in new shoes, wear comfortable shoes that provide good support for your feet. I recommend hiking socks to make them even more comfortable (my Smartwool socks have served me well).
At the Con:
Eat and drink, 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. There are water stations scattered through the convention area, take advantage of them and keep hydrated, your body will thank you. Visit and indulge with the local food trucks which provide tasty and convenient food (Food Truck 2016 schedule).
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 materials, 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, the Indie Games crowd 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. For Indie Games, take a look at games on demand. There is no better chance to try new games than GenCon.
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! You can find me at the Con through this post.