Guess who’s back! I am uploading some photos to the website and here is where you can read a bit about our trip to North America’s largest table-top gaming Convention, Gen Con.
First, the numbers. Something like 208,000 gamers descended upon Gen Con this year for its 50th anniversary.
Over 500 exhibitors and 16,000 events awaited us.
We took over the Indianapolis Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and several of the major Hotels in the area.
The city was replete with a myriad of posters, banners and sandwich boards welcoming “Gen Con 50” and all of its attendees.
Almost every restaurant we visited in the area had Geek Art added to their menus and many of them had changed the name of their food items to geeky new names. Some had created a special Gen Con Menu just for the 5 days we were there or even Gen Con pricing. Indianapolis was prepared for us but were we prepared for Indianapolis?
I believe we were. Extra toilet paper in case the bathrooms run out? Check. Fun-sized hand sanitizer bottles to avoid contracting “Con Flu”? Check. Copious amounts of water bottles and granola bars tucked away in our carrying packs? Check. Hundreds of American dollars in our wallets to avoid the slight bump in conversion rates when using Canadian credit cards in the U.S.? Check. Badges, tickets, maps, coupon book, and wide-ranged walkie talkies to avoid costly cell phone charges so that we can communicate with our entourage? Check. The walkie talkies didn’t end up working very well and we don’t recommend them for future Cons. We kept picking up radio interference and conversation from other people.
As a team of Retailers, we left early to begin the Con experience with a special Trade Day on the 16th. Our Retailer Badges allowed us an entire first day with loads of special seminars and early access to everything except the exhibit hall. They also gained us access to the coveted Retailer’s Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Convention Center which we took full advantage of on multiple occasions. On the 17th we were able to get in to the Exhibit Hall exactly One Hour before the throngs of thousands of chanting gamers would burst through locked doors to join us. That one hour was very special, it was the only hour that Exhibit Hall wouldn’t be bursting at its seams for the rest of the Con.
We visited every publisher and vendor we could during that hour, not wasting time to demo any games or get distracted by long conversations, we were there to grab any hot titles we could before they would all be snapped up and made unavailable. We knew there would be time to chat and play games later. We were able to grab nine games in that hour, and the tenth game we picked up took us more than an hour to acquire because we had to stand in a winding line that barely moved due to a single point-of-sale station.
Other highlights of the trip include: 10 hour trip in my van with great friends. Buying beer from a gas station. Meeting new people including game designers, game publishers, other board game café owners, etc. Several informative seminars. Playing more Board Games than I normally get to play in a week. Spending kidless time with my wonderful wife. It really was a perfect trip for our crew and a dream come true. There are some other conventions out there I am interested in attending but I will definitely be going back to Gen Con.