GenCon, the best four days of gaming, will soon be upon us. If you are a tabletop roleplaying gamer, you are most likely familiar with GenCon. For those unaware of the event, It is a four day gaming convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is held every year around the first weekend of August. GenCon 2016 is being held August 4th through the 7th.
I thought I would reprise my post from last year where I give out some tips for surviving GenCon for both someone new and the veteran con attendee.
Let us begin with the basics, the 3-2-1 rule.
The first part of the rule is that you should get at least three hours of sleep. GenCon has things happening twenty-four hours a day and it is tempting to want to do as much as possible during this time. As much as it would be tempting to push sleep to the back burner during this time, this has negative consequences for both you and others. You are at GenCon to enjoy the games you love and meet people that share your hobby. This is will be very difficult if you are crabby and and distracted from lack of sleep. In addition, Roleplaying games and board games require a level of attention that is difficult to maintain if your body is throwing delta waves in random bursts. You will not be up to your normal performance and the others at the table with you will be worried about you as you nod off.
The 2 in the 3-2-1 rule refers to meals…make sure to have at least two meals a day. You will be running around Indianapolis a lot. Unless you are playing only one game and are housed in the motel where that game is being played, you are going to be walking. This is also another place where you may think that you can gain time to play games and just catch a snack here or there and be good to go. Sure, you can run from game to game eating candy, cookies, and chips, but you will end up pushing an already taxed system to the the edge of it’s capability. If you make sure to take the time at least in the morning and the evening to eat a meal, you will be setting yourself up to be successful. You will provide your body with a base of energy from which you will be able to go forward and win the day, conquer the dungeon, and move all the meeples.
This brings us to one. Make sure to get at least one shower in each day. Indianapolis in August is hot. You will be walking a lot to get from your room, or your car to the games you will be playing. You also will be wandering around a large vendor hall for some time also. This will generate some sweat and stink which will make it more difficult for you to enjoy your time at GenCon. A shower each day will ensure that you are refreshed for your day and energized for all the fun you will have as well.
The 3-2-1 rule forms a foundation to enjoy GenCon and any convention that you may attend in the future. Make sure to keep it in mind as you make your plans for GenCon.
Now that we have covered the basics. You have to ask yourself a question about how you plan to attend GenCon. Are you going to wing it or do you have a plan?
If you are winging it, you need to be patient. GenCon had well over 50 thousand attendees last year. The predictions are that the convention will have another record breaking year for attendance. This means that there will be long lines for everything. This can easily be irritating and if you keep the idea that you just need to be patient you will be preparing yourself to enjoy your time at GenCon. Being patient will also stand you in good stead as you travel around the convention. The mass of humanity that is meandering about the convention and Indianapolis can move slowly and may stop to view a neat looking costume or to have a conversation. If you are patient, you will be able to get past them and move on towards your desired destination.
If you are winging it, you should also ask questions. Whenever you finish a game take the time to ask for recommendations for places to eat or booths to check out while in the vendor hall. This will increase your chances of finding a a new place to eat or a neat hidden gem in the vendor hall. You will be sitting down with an array of people that are here to enjoy the same thing you do. On top of this, you will learn about things to do around town which will not have anything to do with gaming. Even though you are at GenCon to get your game on, taking time out to just enjoy the city that you are in will keep you energized for the convention itself.
If you are a planner, you need to take a step back and analyze your plan. One of the things planners due is to schedule things back to back. They do this thinking that they will be able to make it to each game on time. The problem with this is that there are no planners that are nightcrawler or jumpers. It is going to take you time to get from game to game. You will either have to leave early from the game you are playing or arrive late at the game that you are going too. Neither of these scenarios are enjoyable for you or those playing in the game with you. Take a hard look at your schedule and the map and realize that you are not going to be running between games. Once you have done this, take the time to prune your schedule to leave yourself time to get from game to game in a leisurely fashion. This frees up your time to better enjoy your convention experience and frees up slots in games for others to enjoy more fully.
Planners should also remember to have a backup plan. Things go wrong because there is always chaos in the system. GM’s will get sick, tickets will be oversold, or you may end up running late and lose your seat in a game. Take it all in stride and go to the fallback plan. This will allow you to not worry when things go pear-shaped. You will be able to shrug and move on to your next option. This not only takes some weight of your shoulders in case it is something that happens to you but also makes for a more relaxed experience.
A last bit of advice for all attendees.
Think about someone other than yourself. This hobby of ours requires people to take part with us at the table. If you take the time to think about the other people at the table and make them comfortable, you will create a wonderful gaming experience for everyone. For some people sitting down to the table, this may be their first experience with the hobby. It also maybe the first time that they have tried gaming as everything they have tried around their home has been a bad experience. If you take the time to be empathetic and see the table from someone else’s perspective, you will try to make them feel welcome and accepted at the table and to the hobby. This also extends beyond just the table. Take time while you are walking around the convention and vendor hall to be aware of those around you. There are people from all walks of life that are attending GenCon. Take a little time to think about how you act and speak and wonder if this might make someone feel welcome. And, if you see someone struggling or lost, take the time to ask if they need help. If they do, you can take them to the nearest volunteer who can assist them with their questions or issues.
I am looking forward to GenCon 2015 this year! If you are going to be there please let me know as I am always up for meeting people that read my site!