An Ode to GenCon
This #FangirlFriday post is ridiculously late because last Friday I was at GenCon. And I don’t mean I attended GenCon and lost track of time having so much fun (although yes, fun was had). I mean I had a booth in the dealer hall and hawked my games and books from 10-6 daily. Profitable, but exhausting.
What is GenCon? It is the largest gaming convention in the USA. How large? Over 70,000 attendees large. A dealer room the size of a half a city block large. Selling out every hotel room within an eight mile radius large. I do more business during GenCon’s four days than I do in the other 361 combined.
You would think the sales would be enough for me to love GenCon, but there’s so much more to it. Let me count the ways…
1] I’m not just a dealer, I’m a customer. Even though it is August I do a tremendous amount of Christmas shopping at GenCon. This year I also indulged myself by purchasing a large quantity of fancy herbal teas and honey sticks. And an enamel pin too because I think there’s a rule that you’re not allowed to go home until you get one. After careful consideration I bought a bibimbap pin. I love bibimbap and I happen to have a pretty deft hand at making it too.
2] Cosplay runs rampant at GenCon. It’s a sheer pleasure to watch all the amazing craftsmanship walk by and it’s a pure delight to see some of the more obscure outfits. I mean after attending GenCon since 2002 I’ve seen heaps of Star Wars/Pokemon/Star Trek/[Insert big time pop culture reference here] but every once in a while you see something you’ve never seen before such as Pris from Bladerunner.
3] The city of Indianapolis is the most welcoming city I’ve ever seen. Most cities are hostile towards gaming and sci-fi conventions because we’re nerds and dress funny, but Indy recognizes that 70k attendees will be spending money hand over fist in their town and they roll out the welcome mat. As you drive into the downtown area there are no joke rows of “Welcome GenCon” banners. Some hotels and restaurants put their employees into costumes for us. Some sports bars repurpose their TVs to run geeky movies non-stop.
But the most amazing thing by far is they open up Lucas Oil Field for us. Where normally the Indianapolis Colts play instead is a sea of gaming tables. It is utterly surreal. This year I asked someone to take a picture of me on the 50 yard line. Those who know me will realize how excited I was. For those that don’t, I promise a #FangirlFriday post about football come the fall.
4] GenCon has an entertainment track so after the dealer hall closes up for the day I can see geeky plays or attend concerts where all the songs are like if Weird Al mainlined the SyFy channel all day. See, I told you I had fun at the con.
5] There are some friends that I only get to see once a year at GenCon. Some are local friends that moved away, some are friends I’ve made at the con over the years. This year I had the joy of meeting in person a wonderful woman that I had only gamed with online over Zoom. She flew in from Canada! Also in an odd twist this year friends who did not attend sent friends of theirs I didn’t even know to say hello to me. This actually happened twice during the show.
I could probably go on for another five things if I weren’t so tired. To those four convention days add in that we DRIVE from Virginia to Indy and back because we need to bring everything we’re selling AND a fair amount of booth furniture. I’m so beat I’m going back to bed, like NOW.