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Questions About GEN-CON. Need Some Insight From Geek Community

I'm thinking hard about going to Gen-Con this year in Indianopolis. I've been dreaming about going since I used to daydream about the program that Dragon magazine published every year. I've alienated my wife by turning three of my kids into Gamers and have convinced them and myself that a weekend trip is the way to go. Some questions:

Is it too overcrowded to enjoy? Will I be standing in line all day to play one round of Settlers or is it big enough to survive the crowds? I stopped attending New York Comic Con because the crowds were too much. I'm not niave but I need some idea what I'm walking into.

Money is always at question. I'm underemployed down in the AC casinos. After 17 years of management I'm down in the trenches but I am in a tipped position. Meaning I can work my skirt ( figureatively ) and bank away hopefully $2,000 by August and not interfere with the family's budget. Hotel and food for two nights will go for $500+ total, I'm driving 13 hours from Jersey so $500+ for gas and tolls for summer prices. The passes cost me 70 each so $300. That leaves me possibly $500 for swag. The question is: Am I paying separate entry for different events? Are there premium Sponsor events that will require extra admission? Can I play a game while my kids play in another over the way. They are old enough to circulate on their own so I dont have them on a leash.

How much work reserving spots in game sessions can I actually do beforehand? I'm a fairly organized guy and will map out the days ( Sat and Sunday) as much as possible to get the bang out of my buck. I'm not going to Gen-Con again, it took me 30 years to get there. Can I do it on that kind of budget or doing it right will be too much? I cannot do the VIP route, that prices me out but I wonder if planning ahead will make the difference or not?

Looking for anybody who's done Gen-Con. Is the experience worth the hassle or does the experience just become the hassle? I'm not taking three teenagers out there to walk around in a circle and spend a grand doing it. Any insight,opinion and/or pointers is appreciated. Collectively this community knows alot. I want to tap into to improve my potential Gen-Con experience.


  • hauberkhauberk Posts: 1,511
    I've been several times, but not since it was held in Milwaukee. At that point, events held in the gaming halls were pre-registered events (but usually came with a discount certificate for purchases in the exhibit hall for the MVP) but there were also opportunities for pick-up games in various areas throughout the conference center as well as demos in the exhibition hall. Demos varied in the amount of time it took to get in depending on what was hot and, in some cases, who was demoing the game.

    I don't recall having any trouble finding pick-up or demos of the things that I was interested in but my taste was a bit different - demo's of Pheonix Command and Living Steel with the game designers, pick-up of Robotech with some real goofs (Betas do not have triple autocannons on each forearm no matter how you may want to misinterpret the drawing - just look at the data sheet). Probably the coolest demo (back in '88) was the opportunity to demo TSR's Magestones board game from the Dragonlance line with Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.

    All that said, it's been a long, long time since I've attended a GenCon.
  • GregGreg Posts: 1,946
    I attended Gen Con from '95 to 2000, and didn't go back until '04 and '06 and haven't been back since. I had never felt claustrophobic at a con but those two times I went to Indy I couldn't shake it. I never felt that way in Milwaukee. At no other con have I lost sight of the people I was with, at Indy, we couldn't keep tabs on each other to save our lives. Keep in mind though, we fell out of con going for awhile. I don't want to pin it all on the locale.

    Certain events are going to cost you money. The years I attended most of the games were $1-$3 per ticket, the card and miniature wargames I competed in would cost $5-$25. Pick-up games and demos were never hard to get into unless a paticular game became a qucik hit or was something that had some big hype around it before the con opened. I only pre-registered for games that I was competing in. I remember both Gary Gygax and Ed Greenwood were running some D & D games and those sold out as soon the tickets went on sale.

    Back when I was single my freinds and I would sign up as volunteers for the con itself or with specific companies. I was always afraid that i wouldn't get much time to see what I wanted to see but it always worked out, got reimbursed for my pass, got extra goodies to take home and got bigger discounts with the sponsoring companies.

    If there are specific organized games that you want to get into, get the tickets. Otherwise you should have no problem finding demos and pick-up games to fill your time up. They also have other things worth checking out, if they still have them there was an anime fest, an art show, an auction and other stuff last time I went. TSR used to do a play every year, but with TSR gone, I'm sure that is too.

    Doing game demos can pay off pretty well. I can't remember what year it was, my friends and I got to be playtesters for the Alien vs Predator and the Babylon 5 card games after doing the demo. The cards were just a heavy paper stock with blank backs but it was a lot of fun. Once the games were released we helped demo them at hobby shops. We also got to meet Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Richard Biggs and Claudia Christian. A lot of companies will also have raffles, giveaways and fun stuff like that.

    I'm thinking about skipping Wizard World this year and going to Gen Con now that the kids are older and might be able to handle it better.

  • sandmansandman Posts: 199
    edited January 2013
    I went to Gen Con a few years back and greatly enjoyed it. There is a good sized crowd, but I didn't think that it was overwhelming. The crowd is centered around the dealers/publishers room. You won't have to wait to play games. Its possible that if you want to play a free demo at one of the publisher's table you may have to wait, it depends on how you catch things, but you can always leave an come back later. And I didn't have much of a problem when I wanted to get in somewhere a buy something. At any good sized con sometimes the timing of things means that you have to wait a little.

    Events do cost more. You do pay to play scheduled games. And by premium sponsor events I'm guessing that you mean tournaments. Yes, you do have to pay more for tournaments. You should do as much games reservation as you can beforehand. There's no telling if spots will sell out so if there's something that you really want to do you should reserve ahead of time. I don't think that game reservation is open yet. Just check-up on the Gen Con website,, and when it opens look for the events that you definitely want to do.

    If the con is still at the convention center downtown then there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance if you don't want to keep driving back and forth. And there is a mall a couple of blocks away. Although at lunch time the food court was super packed.

    Hope that helps a little. I think its a fun convention and worth the trip. Just check their website for information when they put it up. And reserve your must haves ahead of time.
  • shroud68shroud68 Posts: 457
    Thanks for all the info. Keep it coming. I'm really looking forward to it.
  • This was going to be my first year going to Gencon. I had gone to Gencon SoCal but I don't really count those. Unfortunately, since I work in a non-office environment now, I couldn't get a room downtown. I'm going to try to get one, but if I can't, I may end up changing my mind about going. This is as much of a hassle as SDCC, which I don't understand.
  • GregGreg Posts: 1,946
    Looks like we are skipping out in Wizard World Chicago and hitting Gen Con this year.
  • HellsfireHellsfire Posts: 89
    Since I was finally able to get a hotel room, albeit a bit overpriced, looks like I'll be going this year. I'd love to meet some of you people especially since I won't make it out to a CGS Super Show any time soon. We should do a meet up.
  • shroud68shroud68 Posts: 457
    Hellsfire said:

    Since I was finally able to get a hotel room, albeit a bit overpriced, looks like I'll be going this year. I'd love to meet some of you people especially since I won't make it out to a CGS Super Show any time soon. We should do a meet up.

    If you don't mind PM the particulars of your search for a room. That's my only delay right now. Thanks!
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