Thursday, August 23, 2007

What makes GenCon Indy special?

The faithful make their pilgrimage. Yes, there are that many gamers in one place. It's not always that crowded. Image from Drammattex's GenCon Indy 2007 photoblog.

I have been asked on occasion why GenCon Indy is so special. Couldn't I just go to a local convention or some other convention that had a more convenient time? The answer is no, of course. But I've always had difficulty explaining to non-games why that particular event is so important. Here's a little writeup from Drammattex that tries to capture what it's like:
If you haven't been to Gen Con before, it's a little bit Disneyland and a little bit Christmas. Even the most jaded of us gamers can't help it. We stream into that exhibit hall at 10 A.M. like a dam that's sprung a leak.

When they open for the first time, the doors to the exhibit hall are picture frames allowing us only glimpses at the world beyond their borders. We can see a little: sellers and demonstrators making last minute adjustments to their stores - bright colors on new, never before seen products; the base of some massive display looming high overhead somewhere beyond the doors... it's all promise at this point, all potential energy.

And then we're in.

I can only describe it as the way I used to feel when my cousin Dave used to visit. At eight, I was (supposedly) too young to own my own D&D set ("Ages 10 and up!"), but Dave had one. And when Dave's family drove down from Naperville to Pinkney, MI or Bettendorf, IA or Enon, OH or wherever the Air Force had put us at the time, I knew that adventure was going to follow.

I would jump up and down from the second their van turned the corner onto our street, and I didn't stop jumping until I had my character sheet in one hand, dice in the other. Something was going to happen.
Dave always got out of the van, smiled this devilish grin and said "Oh, just wait 'till you see what I've got planned. You're gonna be in so much trouble."
I couldn't fraking wait.

That's what Gen Con is like on the first day.
It's just like that. That childlike excitement comes back from wherever you (forgot you) ditched it, and you take to the hall like a mad pack of rats on free cheese day (they must have at least one day like that in their lives).

Entering the convention hall is like standing in line for the most anticipated movie of the summer on opening night: when the cinema employees finally open those doors for the film, everybody does that jog-walk into the theater to grab that prized middle seat in their favorite section.

That's opening day at Gen Con. The WotC booth gets flooded right away. Chunks of the crowd break off and fly to WizKids and Mayfair and Giant in the Playground, each chunk absolutely 100% certain that everybody else waiting outside the doors is going to the exact same destination. So you've gotta jog-walk, man. It's the only way to beat the rush.
It's funny. And nobody can resist it. The Gen Con spirit overcomes even the scroogiest of us.

It's hard not to burst in through the doors. It's hard not to turn your head in every direction at once. It's a little bit like walking through the House on the Rock in Wisconsin which, if you haven't seen that, is kind of like watching Moulin Rouge at the IMAX, which if you haven't seen that, is something like watching the grand finale of fireworks on the 4th of July, which if you haven't seen that means you need to get yourself down to Gen Con and see what I'm talking about.

This is what I look forward to tomorrow. We all get to be kids again. We all get to play. For four whole days, we get to forget everything else and we get to play.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GENCON VIDEO FOOTAGE!

I'm in this this! Check it out...Lotta interviews.

GENCON VIDEO!!! AWESOME!
http://www.maximonline.com/Friendsromansnerds/video/4863.aspx?src=tst69

GENCON VIDEO!!! AWESOME!
http://www.maximonline.com/Friendsromansnerds/video/4863.aspx?src=tst69

GENCON VIDEO!!! AWESOME!
http://www.maximonline.com/Friendsromansnerds/video/4863.aspx?src=tst69

2:08 AM, August 24, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

OK, MAXIM, thanks for the drive-by spam. I'm flattered that you think it's worth getting through the captcha to post your ads in the comments section of my humble blog. But dude, your GenCon coverage SUCKS. Where are the scantily clad babes in your videos? They were there, but apparently your crew was too lazy to find them. I don't go to the MAXIM website to hear game nerds play lame word association games with your obnoxious interviewers. I go to the MAXIM website for (OK, I don't actually go there, but if I did I would go there for) gratuitously titillating images of nubile females. Isn't that what the MAXIM brand is all about? Please do a better job next year.

5:00 AM, August 24, 2007  

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