Friday, August 14, 2015

Gamers, Ahoy!

No, we didn't use a ship to get there.
From the official Gen Con graphic for 2015.

Due to circumstances beyond our control*, we made our annual trek to GenCon on Saturday instead of Sunday. It was a (relatively) cool and clear day when we arrived at Indianapolis and walked from the Lucas Oil Stadium parking lot to the convention center.

The line for coffee at a nearby coffee shop was practically out the door, and we arrived too late to get a drink from Mayfair's free coffee van out front, so we went inside to get our tickets from Will Call. There, we were confronted with the first big difference between Saturday and Sunday at Gen Con: the Will Call line was 1/2 hour long. On Sunday, you could just walk right up without a wait and get your tickets, but a lot of people show up for Saturday and Sunday only, so the line is significantly longer.

This led into a (strong) suggestion of mine, which was that Gen Con LLC should look into making a "weekend pass", combining Saturday and Sunday. This way an attendee (or a family) could got to both days and be able to see everything in the main Exhibit Hall as well as catch a few presentations. However, as my brother-in-law pointed out to me, the cost of a Saturday + Sunday ticket is only slightly less than a Four Day Pass, and for a multiday pass it would only make sense to just get the Four Day Pass instead. Another thing he was concerned about was that the crowd would then swell to the point that the Indy Convention Center --one of the largest if not the largest in the Midwest-- would be swamped, and then Gen Con would likely have to move to one of the coasts. That would defeat the purpose of keeping the Con in the Midwest, which is the only really huge gaming con in this part of the country: PAX and PAX East are on the coasts, as is BlizzCon and E3, and San Diego CC and DragonCon are on the coast and in the heart of the South, respectively. Origins is the only other major gaming con in North America (based in Columbus, OH) and it is far smaller than Gen Con.**

Once we secured our passes, the mini-Reds took off with my brother-in-law for points unknown, and my wife and I were left to explore the Exhibit Hall on our own.

(Many more pics and commentary after the break...)

At the Alderac Entertainment (AEG) area just as you enter into the
Exhibit Hall. The old boardgame Junta is back!

The Exhibit Hall had over 400 vendors. Believe me, you could tell.

And my wife, who'd expressed some concern about us trying to fit in both Gen Con and a regular vacation in one year, was suddenly giddy at being surrounded by games and gamers.

We checked out the major vendors --Paizo, Mayfair, AEG, Dr. Who, Fantasy Flight, and others-- and also drooled over the equipment found at multiple vendors:

From Geek Chic (

From Geek Chic (

In the Mayfair area.

Oh, if I had won the lottery --or been promoted to the CEO of a large corporation-- I know where I'd spend some money...

And then there's some models that people had put together:

They were pretty amazing.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Dwarven Forge and their incredible terrain/dungeon designs. (Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics of their stuff.) They never fail to wow me with their detail and and utility. But if I ever went down that path and bought some of their stuff, I have no idea where I'd put them in the house.***

We did get a chance to talk to the developer of the boardgame Realm of Wonder, which has a lot in common with the old classic Talisman but is much less prone to wandering off and deviating from the overall goal of getting to the center. Since we were long time Talisman fans, this was not exactly a hard sell for us.

We also ran a demo of a Mayfair card game called Saboteur, which ran a lot like the old Waterworks card game (for you folks my age or older). All five of us (including the mini-Reds) played, as well as a woman who was there to film a documentary on gamers and game developers. I couldn't tell you what was more interesting, the game itself or the table talk about the work she's done in the past. As for Saboteur itself, when it gets released in the US, it'll be worthwhile to pick up a copy.


Musical entertainment was provided throughout the con, with people such as Captain Ambivalent around to regale us with songs such as the Miskatonic U Fight Song:

"Rah, Rah, Miskatonic!
Rah, Rah, Miskatonic!
Fight Fight Fight until we die or go insane!"

We also passed The Doubleclicks while they were en route to a gig of their own, with cello and guitar in tow. "Hey!" I called out. "It's The Doubleclicks!" They smiled and waved, and I wasn't going to stop them from getting to where they needed to go.

Here's a little bit of The Doubleclicks' output to enjoy:


Oh, and there were cosplayers.

Lots of cosplayers.

My photo taking plummeted after lunch, which is a shame as there were a lot of awesome cosplayers there:

Waiting in line at Paizo I spotted a Sith and friend.

Warhammer was well represented too.

A professional cosplayer in a Filipino Scout uniform.

Hit Girl and Peach were just hanging around.


As I was taking a pic of the castle (see several pics above), I turned
around and these three were right there for the perfect serendipitous shot.

A couple of Indys at Indy!

Personal favorite of the bunch was the Steampunk Dr. Octopus.

He chose.... wisely.

Another professional cosplayer. He was mentioning her
website to another photographer, but I wasn't able to hear it. If someone
can let me know who she is, I'll add that info.

DC Universe ho!

Fred, Daphne, and a mini-Scooby Doo.


It was worth it to visit the con on a Saturday, but it wasn't cheap, either. Sunday is more relaxing --crowdwise-- and is significantly cheaper for a family of five. However, our Saturday excursion whetted my appetite for more. I'd like to sit in on some panels and try more demos, and not feel like we were rushed to get a chance to check everything out.

But unless we plan ahead for it, I think we'll need to focus on Sundays for the time being.

In closing, here are a few pics that I had that really didn't fit anywhere else:

Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya!
Seriously, they had "My Name Is" labels all over the place...

And a real live Dalek.

*Two of the mini-Reds had measurements for their marching band uniforms on Sunday.

**Anyway, this was part of the discussion that was had waiting for tickets, which carried over to lunch, and really had nothing to do with gaming.

***And no, I'm not going to buy a bigger house just for that reason.

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