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I got home from GenCon last night. It is definitely the biggest gaming event I have ever attended! I went about ten years ago, and it has only gotten larger! This time, I went with Justin Pottenger as support. We took a late Wednesday night flight which arrived the next morning. We showed up at around 10:30am, about an hour after opening ceremony and it was already crazy. People had filled the streets, and the parking lots. So we ended up parking about a 15 minute walk away. It was a nice walk since the weather beat Phoenix in August hands down. After the time it took to get the badges, we were able to look around a bit.
Thursday we were committed to First Exposure, an area that allows people with unreleased games to show them to playtesters and get feedback. Our first session began at 2pm and I was already exhausted from lack of sleep on the plane. I’m sure he was tired too, but Justin took the lead for me on running the game, but before you know it we were both laughing and wide awake. We had a great group of playtesters who enjoyed the game and I had a great second wind watching them get a kick out of the cards. The interactions were fun and it reminded me how much I enjoy doing this. Each following game was a lot the same, players enjoyed the humor and there were always engaging build up battles. We were done with that around 8pm on Thursday, after which we got food and headed to the hotel because we wanted to be up nice and early Friday.
Friday was a big day for panels. We showed up in the morning and made it our whole day, to learn as much as possible. I went to six, with about half hour to hour long breaks in between. I wanted information on Kickstarters, legal advice for game company owners, diversity in gaming, and more. We had a break between the final panel and more First Exposure that evening. We were done with game demos around midnight, and I got some interesting feedback. I was both happy and sad about that. Happy that it yielded results, and I realized a couple more things I need to adjust with the game, but sad because of course you just want the game to be done already. I’m not the only one who feels that way, when there’s a creative project, it would be great if you could just call it done, but this is going to be an ongoing thing indefinitely. Still, I got great feedback and am happy for that. Since it was past midnight, we went back to the hotel after grabbing some grub.
We weren’t scheduled in First Exposure for Saturday or Sunday, so we changed it up a bit. The Exhibitor Hall was open from 10am-6pm, and we were in there the entire time except for when we grabbed food. The reason for this was to walk through and talk to the game designers, publishers, podcasters, and anyone of interest. We spent 6+ hours doing this, and still had about a third of the space left to go. There were so many conversations that were great to have with people. I felt like that combined with the panels armed me with about as much information as I could stand. After it closed, we grabbed food, hit up an 8pm panel, and explored the rest of the event. Learning and interacting for so long took a toll though, and I was exhausted. I remember the days of after hours socializing and had friends at the event, but I couldn’t muster enough energy to go socialize with my Phoenix friends. Instead we determined we could see them after the event.
Sunday was our last and final day. There were two panels we wanted to hit, along with the rest of the Exhibitor Hall. One of the panels was on funding options for game companies, and the other was for diversity in gaming, at 10am and 11am. By noon we were heading back to the Exhibitor Hall, exhausted but determined and as refreshed as a person can be on day four of a con. We took about 3 more hours to explore the remaining space, which was interesting because I got to see several people I know. Rob and Aubrey Hicks are friends that went with me to GenCon 10 years ago, and now have a booth there after successfully kickstarting their game Goblins Breakfast! They were great and super high energy. I also made it to the 7th Sea booth. I got to say hello to John Wick and Ben Woerner which is nice, and they were quite busy with the success of 7th Sea. There were many others I got to see throughout the event.
It was around 3pm when we were done going through the hall, and were pretty much wiped out. So, we got some lunch, and made our way to the canal to check out some local sites. I think it’s good to check out an area when traveling if possible. The city was very cool and I enjoyed the restaurants. If you make it to this event, I recommend Palomino and Yardhouse as restaurants to check out. They were my favorite two. The latter is a little more expensive.
And that was our trip! Our flight arrived home around 10pm and we decompressed GenCon is great, if you’re a gamer I feel like it’s a must take trip at some point.