I love Gen Con so much. And I think a lot of readers of this site might enjoy it too, so I thought I’d give you a few tips for maximizing your convention experience. If you are bad at planning, or just have no idea where to start, I’m here to help.
1. Register Early
Gen Con’s badge registration generally starts in January. THIS IS THE TIME TO GET BADGES. Not only will you save money with early registration, you won’t have to stand in the MASSIVE line to buy your badge at Gen Con.
Early registration also applies to event tickets. Event tickets generally go on sale a few months before the convention starts, and if you want to do awesome things like True Dungeon, Artemis, or play in all your required Pathfinder Society scenarios, you NEED to buy those event tickets early. Gen Con is rapidly expanding, and that means more people are coming and selling out events. A week after registration is often too late if you want to do one of the really popular Gen Con attractions.
2. Contact Info
Bring business cards with your contact info. You are going to meet some great people who are going to rush away as soon as your game is over to get to their next game. Business cards with a phone/text number are an easy way to touch base with people later. Trust me, there’s rarely any time to chat with people after the game. Plan ahead.
We didn’t take business cards this year, and we immediately regretted it.
Indy game developers all over over the exhibit hall. PLAY THEIR GAMES! Maybe even take a chance and buy one of their games. A lot of these devs have to put their shyness to the side in order to sell themselves and their games; give them a shot and take a listen. They will really appreciate it.
This is how I found out about awesome games like Castle Panic, Bears!, and Quack in the Box.
4. Be Bold
No one ever got anywhere by being shy. Gen Con is pretty laid back, but the energy level is often very high, so there’s no time to be bashful. Do you want your favorite developer to sign a book? Ask.
You’ll find that game developers and celebrities are often just people like you, and many will even be flattered when you ask them to sign something that they put their heart and soul into.
This worked for us when I was talking to Joe Carriker, who was nice enough to demo A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying for us. He was the line producer and a heckuva nice guy. After John bought ALL the available books for the game, I asked Mr. Carriker if he would sign them, and he seemed a little big surprised that we would care enough to do so. Game creators make us happy. Why not try to make them happy to?
5. The Early Bird
Get to events a bit early, if at all possible. This will give you opportunities to chat with the people you’ll be playing games with. In our case, we got to chat a little bit with Tim Clonch, our Mutants and Masterminds GM, for a few minutes. Arriving early also allowed us to meet our fellow Artemis crew members for the session.
6. Don’t just attend game events
There is so much to do besides gaming at Gen Con: The Masquerade Ball, building larping weapons, making chain mail, seminars, speed dating, cosplay, zombie hunts, a film festival, music acts… the list goes ever, ever on. If I wouldn’t have stopped to listen to some of the musicians, I never would have heard a bunch of Klingons singing the Ewok song from the end of Return of the Jedi.
7. Get more people.
John and I decided that two just isn’t cutting it anymore. If you are one of our friends and are nominally interested in gaming, expect a call, text, Facebook message or email because we want to roll up to the Con in style with a bigger entourage. Seriously, if you are reading this, whether you know us or not, you need to get to Gen Con. It touts itself as “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” and it’s true. You WILL have a good time.
These tips should help you have an even more awesome time at Gen Con. For next year, The Cool Ship is considering hosting some events (we have some awesome ideas). If you’d like to roll with us at the con, let us know in the comments.