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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Aug 20, 2012

There and Back Again – My Gen Con 2012 Experience

Every year there’s a magical event that takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana that attracts thousands of people from all over the country. That event is called Gen Con, and it’s marketed as being the best four days in gaming. As far as marketing slogans go, I have to say that this one hits the proverbial nail right on the head as it couldn’t be anymore true. As a lifetime nerd and career gamer, this con is a calling from above and it’s not something I’ll miss on my life. This year was my second time attending Gen Con, and it will be far from the last.

When I moved to Bloomington and started working for GamerFront I’d only heard of Gen Con through mentions here and there. I went last year to experience it for the first time and it blew me away. I never expected to attend an event so fun and full of life. I’d heard of people dressing up for the event and they’d make all sorts of crazy costumes, but I hadn’t really understood the meaning or reason behind the con or those who went to it. Since my trip last year I’ve come a very long way and learned a lot more about the industry for which I’ve so much passion.

That being said, last year’s experience with the con was much different than the one I had this year. Now don’t take that as meaning anything bad, it just means that each trip felt different when compared to each other. In short, last year was much more of an exploration into the event whereas this year was more work-oriented. Last year I ended up demoing all sorts of games, exploring the convention center, and hanging out with handfuls of people all over the place. This year I was more reserved, and kept things to the convention center. It wasn’t bad at all, but I felt more comfortable in my location and position. Also, I made the decision to share this con experience with my wife, Kae, so we could enjoy it together. She’s come a long way and has turned into quite the gamer since we’ve met.

Anyway, I extremely enjoyed Gen Con this year. There were plenty of attendees, and I imagine the toll was well over the 36k that showed up last year. Attendees still cosplayed as usual, though I didn’t see as many this year. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but the cosplayers eluded me for the most part. I cosplayed myself when I went up on Friday, going as my own S.T.A.R.S. member from Resident Evil. I was proud of the costume because it was officially complete after a year of work. I didn’t cosplay on Saturday just because I had meetings and went through True Dungeon with the wife and friends, which I will touch more on later this week.

As I made it to the convention on Friday I was immediately filled with the same joy I had felt the year before. This time I was much better prepared. I had plenty of spending money, I planned out all my events, and everything was set in place. The first thing I had on my list was a meeting to check out a new game for the iPad from WizKids. The game was for HeroClix, and it really surprised me. It used special Clix that had risers on the bottom of them. The game app allows the player to place one of the game-specific Clix on a designated area, and it would pick up which character it was by reading the pressure points set by the risers. I’ll have more on it later this week, but it was the first pleasant surprise I had at the event.

From there I moved on to the Cryptozoic booth which I was excited about. A brand new deckbuilding game called 3012 was being demoed, and it looked really fun. I got to check out more on the World of Warcraft TCG while at the booth, and had the opportunity to talk with staff about the game. One thing I wanted to know about was the World of Warcraft: Clash of Champions deckbuilding game but unfortunately there’s no news on it right now. It’s still in production, but we won’t be seeing it anytime soon. One thing that I can say, however, is that I’ll have a review on 3012 in the near future, so look forward to that.

From there I headed to the big event – a meeting at the Gary Games booth. As you know I’ve been quite excited about a game called SolForge. Gary Games is the developer behind the game and I was extremely excited to check it out. I got to demo the game as well as learn more about what it is and how it operates. Earlier I posted a preview for it and it’s well worth checking out. If there was a shining star of Gen Con 2012, SolForge would get my vote. The game is fun, very addictive, and I can’t wait until it releases.

One of the coolest things that we did at the event was having lunch at a restaurant called RAM. Each year Privateer Press, the company who produces Warmachine and Hordes, rents out the restaurant. They change all the menus and put up all kinds of artwork from both of the miniature games. The RAM had an excellent beer list, and their food was out of this world. Tons of gamers filled the place and there was always some sort of gaming conversation going on. This happened so much that you could turn to the table beside you and jump right into the conversation. It was a very welcoming and humbling feeling to experience. Not to mention I totally got full on the food!

From then on it was a matter of hitting up different booths, spending more than enough money, and enjoying the atmosphere. The one thing I did differently this year, or didn’t do in this instance, is demo games. During the con last year I checked out the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game, the Gears of War Board Game, and plenty of other games on the exhibition floor. I didn’t do that so much this time around. I guess you could chalk it up to being busy, but I was more occupied with walking the show floor than demoing new games. I did check out the ones I was interested in like SolForge and 3012, but as far as others go I didn’t sit down.

I did enjoy walking the floor and checking out all of the exhibitors. The Wizard’s booth was one of my favorites and I got to take a picture with the huge statue of Lolth, the half-woman half-spider character in the Rise of the Underdark campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. Otherwise there was plenty to satiate any gamer cravings, and memorabilia lined the aisles. The entire building provided a motivational atmosphere that just made you want to play whatever games you could. I did get to sit down and play a few games in the World of Warcraft TCG league which was a lot of fun. While I was more focused on work this year, I was also more involved. I got to go with my wife to a seminar entitled “How To Cook Like A Dwarf” where two authors showed and explained their book, A Dwarven Cookbook. The book followed the exploration of the types of meals dwarves would have when they ate. There are recipes and all types of lore in the book. It was a great time and I’m definitely getting that book.

By the end of the weekend I was worn out (and still am), broke, and tired, but I still have a smile on my face. I met some great people during Gen Con this year, picked up some great swag, and have been left with memories that will make me happy for a lifetime. There’s never a better time to be an old-school gamer, nerd, or all-around geek. Gen Con is just like a fine wine in that it gets better with each year that passes by. I’m already marking the calendar for the next Gen Con, and I hope to see you there. With over 35,000 attending such a magnificent event, we’re bound to see each other, wouldn’t you say?

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