Gen Con Indy 2011 activities begin on August 3rd in Indianapolis so for many gamers the long wait is just about over. For veteran attendees this convention is the biggest event of the year and they know exactly how to manage their time and what to bring to the convention to get the most out of the experience. For new attendees the tips and tricks learned by veterans through the years can go a long way to ensure you have the most fun at Gen Con.
Here are the ten best pieces of advice to help you to get the most out of the Best Four Days in Gaming this year.
1. Wear Good Shoes – Yes, you look really cool in those 70s funky high heels featuring fish tanks with d20 dice floating in them but there is no way you can be comfortable in that. You are going to do A LOT of walking at this convention and you need a good pair of shoes that can keep up with you. Pack some nice sneakers (with those awesome jelly inserts) and save the fancy stuff for the costume contest and the cosplay.
2. Less is More – Well, less is more when it comes to how much gear you carry around with you each day at the convention. You may own every book Wizards of the Coast has printed for Dungeons & Dragons 4E but you do not want to carry them all with you! Only pack the gear you know you will need each day. Your back will thank you when Sunday night rolls around. Bring a small bottle of pain killers just in case it starts to moan a little. You will thank me later.
3. Bring a Drink and Snacks – While keeping “Less is More” in mind it is a good idea to bring a bottle of your favorite drink and some snacks to nibble on. The convention center has several excellent vendors who aim to cater to these kinds of needs but 1) they can be expensive, 2) it is hard to get to them if you are in the middle of an event and 3) sometimes they are not open when you need them (especially later in the evening). Just be reasonable and remember to throw the vendors some business when you can.
4. Hygiene – A group of geese is called a gaggle, a family of lions is called a pride and a gathering of gamers is called a stink. Yes, it is unfortunate but that is the reputation we have earned for ourselves. It can get very warm in the convention center and we are in the middle of a heat wave. Sweating will occur and folks will sour. Carry a small stick of deodorant in case you need it and take the time to clean up each and every day of the convention. Baby wipes are a good option too. Your fellow gamers will appreciate it.
5. Bring Tissue Paper – One of those small packets of Kleenex tissues will do. Stick it in your back pocket in case you need it. On several occasions over the years I have sat down in a bathroom stall only to learn to my dismay there was no toilet paper. The first time was a disaster but after that I had no problems thanks to my handy packet of tissues. Trust me on this one.
6. Remember to Rest and Relax – Gen Con is the Best Four Days in Gaming but if you do not take the time to rest and relax during the convention you will find it quickly becomes a Tiresome Three Day Gamefest with a Day of Cranky Gamers Who Want to Kill Each Other on Sunday. They sell swords in the exhibit hall. Healing spells are not real. Gamer on gamer violence is a bad thing. Get some sleep each night and take a break when you need it.
7. SWAG – SWAG, also known as Stuff We All Get, is awesome. Everyone loves SWAG! SWAG is not free. Wait, what? Well technically, SWAG is free in terms of monetary cost but there is always something the people giving out the SWAG want from you. So do not just grab and run. Remember to ask politely if you can take an item and give them a chance to do their thing. Most of the time they just want to introduce you to their products and see what you think. Sometimes you need to buy something to get the extra SWAG. Sometimes they just want to turn you into a walking advertisement like with those fancy pirate bandanas Privateer Press gives out every year. Oh yeah, by Sunday we are all awesome pirates! Or at least the cool gamers are…
8. Be Nice to Exhibitors – Exhibitors are there to sell product and spread the word about their games. They are not there to listen to you berate their games and waste their time. I once saw a gamer introduce himself to Steve Jackson and then launch into a tirade about how horrible Steve Jackson’s games were. I felt so bad for Steve because he is a nice guy and he has been working hard in this industry for a long time. So I was extra nice to him when I got to talk to him and he gave me a really cool button to add to my collection. Exhibitors are people too and they deserve some love.
9. Know When to Buy – The exhibit hall at Gen Con Indy is the best place in the world to buy gaming products but there is an art to knowing when to buy. Some items are cheap from the get go so they are safe to buy at any time. Some items are limited so you are going to want to grab them when you can. A lot of items will drop in price on Sunday. Dealers ship their product to the convention to sell them. Shipping it home again can be costly and a lot of dealers would rather drop the price than pay for the extra shipping. That makes Sunday the best day to go bargain hunting.
10. Have fun – Above all else you are there to have fun. Do not stress your schedule. Hillybilly Bunnies Versus Zombies Second Edition may have looked good to you several months ago when you bought your tickets but if you are not interested in that event when the time comes, skip it. Go with the flow and keep your eyes and ears open for fun opportunities. Sometimes you find the best events that way, when you least expected it.
What advice would you give to gamers heading to Gen Con? Leave your comments below and let me know.
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