Tomorrow, I’m off to Gen Con. This isn’t going to be my usual Gen Con as I won’t be there with the Accidental Survivors crew. I’ll be there working, running some Nefertiti Overdrive, trying to sell some Centurion and Sword Noir, and generally trying to have a good time.
This is my fourth time out to the rodeo, and I was trying to think of advice I would give to people going. These are just a few very minor thoughts regarding my preparations for going.
1) Get your rest before you go. It’s a little bit late to mention this, but if you are already tired when you hit Gen Con, it’s going to steamroll you. A body in need of rest is also more susceptible to illnesses that are always floating around cons. You can still get a good night’s sleep while at the con, but it means you need to prioritize sleep, which is generally pretty low on most people’s hierarchy of gaming needs.
2) Have a schedule notebook. I usually have a notebook specifically for Gen Con with one page for each scheduled activity. That page includes timings, required equipment, place and map. The rest of the page and the back of the page I leave blank for notes linked to the appointment. I put them in chronological order and have a small paperclip to mark the present/next event. The rest of the notebook is available for game notes, writing down phone numbers/email to keep or pass on, or even jotting down ideas that strike in the exhibitors’ hall.
3) You need to keep clean. Yes, this is just plain common sense, but also yes, it probably needs to said. Take a change of clothes for each day and don’t forget your toothbrush and tooth paste. Take some gum as well, for the in-between periods. You will be surprised how few “catpiss gamers” you’ll meet at Gen Con (thank you to Brad Clark for that evocative turn of phrase), so don’t be the person at the table that befouls the atmosphere.
4) Be flexible. Stuff is going to happen. Don’t go in with rigid expectations. Some events are going to be cancelled, some will change, some won’t be what you expect them to be. Don’t worry about it. You’re at Gen Con! Roll with it. Don’t be afraid to walk away from situations you don’t like. I’d be very careful about doing that in the middle of a game, but if you meet the GM and the individual is a total d-bag, just walk away. You don’t need that shit in your life for the next four hours.
5) Don’t be afraid to lurk – as long as you aren’t being stalker-y. A couple of times when I was running games on the side – at a free table or in the lounge at the hotel – someone has stopped to watch. That’s cool. I usually greet them, let them know it’s cool to ask questions, and if there is space, I’ll offer to have them join us. If you are interested in a game, feel free to politely watch. If you are doing it because of an attractive individual at the table, that’s not as cool. And if that attractive person studiously avoids looking at you, move the fuck along.
6) If you are coming from outside of the US, don’t expect wi-fi at the hotel unless it explicitly states it is available. When I am travelling in Canada, I am honestly shocked when a hotel doesn’t have free wi-fi. It’s pretty common in Asia and Europe as well. In the US, I am generally shocked if the hotel has free wi-fi. Maybe this has changed since my last visit, but it has been super-frustrating. At the convention centre, there are free wi-fi hot spots, so take your laptop, tablet, or phone, and check in there.
That’s all I could think of right now. Nothing ground-breaking. There are no epiphanies to be had here. If you are coming to Gen Con, I hope to see you there and shake your hand. I’ll be at the IGDN booth (#734, right beside Indie Press Revolution) on Saturday from 2PM to 4PM. You can also see me at the Indie RPG Matchmaker seminar Friday morning at 9 at the Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Stn B or at the Historical Gaming seminar Saturday at 1 PM at Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Stn A.
You can find my Gen Con calendar here.