My favorite aspect of Gen Con more and more is the relationships. Each year I attend, I find I purchase fewer items and spend more time hanging out with friends and family. I really enjoy having my wife and daughters with me at the convention. My daughters worked the Stronghold booth with me each day, which is such a fun experience to share with them. I get to share what goes on behind the scenes with them and spend hours sharing a hobby together we are all passionate about. As in previous years, I got to meet face-to-face for the first time people I have only known online. Now I have a face and a voice to associate with all those messages we bounce around. Then there is all the game industry and community friends I only get to see once a year at Gen Con. Working in the Exhibit Hall provides wonderful opportunities to meet with publishers, designers, fellow freelancers, personalities, and other booth workers. We are like a big family that look forward to catching up with each other every year. Also enjoyed spending time with friends from college, former students, local friends, and family, many of which stopped by the booth while we were working to say hello. Even with all those hours of meeting people, I still missed spending time with some people I wanted to. So much Gen Con, never enough time to see everyone.
This was our first year working the Stronghold Games booth and events. We did stop by the Modiphius booth to say hello and spend some time chatting with our friends we worked with in previous years. My daughters and I were heartily welcomed by the Stronghold Games and IBC staff and volunteers, and quickly found our new groove. We set up the booth on Tuesday, practiced demos on Wednesday, demoed and worked retail afternoons Thursday through Sunday, helped run the Thursday night Rock and Roll and Write Launch Party, then dismantled the booth on Sunday. We had so much fun working the Stronghold Games booth. Also came to realize how much lighter boxes of board games are compared to boxes of RPG books. So much easier to move around! Demoing board games was also a lot of fun. In previous years with Modiphius, I helped with retail and talking to fans. Those were quicker conversations, more about marketing. Demoing games for Stronghold gave me a chance to sit with a few people at a time for a longer period. I had more time to chat with them, find out how their convention is going, and get to know their friends and family with them. I found that more personal time demoing a wonderful experience, and added to the relational aspects of Gen Con I like so much.
On Wednesday this year, we attended the academic sessions of Trade Day for the first time. My daughters are studying to be a high school teacher and a librarian, and I teach courses in Game Studies and Game Writing/Editing at the college level, so Trade Day has interested us for years. Working with Stronghold Games freed up our schedule to attend Trade Day. We attended some great sessions on accessible gaming, rpgs in the classroom, science education using games, and a forum on the future of Trade Day. We also made contacts with many others who use games in the classroom and in libraries. We will definitely be attending Trade Day sessions next year. I am even thinking of submitting a workshop related to the game studies classes I have been teaching.
At the ENnies this year (which I didn’t get a chance to attend), two projects I worked on as a proofreader with Chaosium won awards: Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection won Silver for Best RPG-Related Product and The Glorantha Sourcebook won Gold for Best Supplement. Even more exciting, my former Writing & Editing for Gaming student Olivia “Lauritzen” Mitchem had a Chaosium project she was proofreader on win two ENnies: Terror Australis won Gold for Best Cover and Silver for Best Setting. So proud to see my former students succeeding in the industry!
The Gen Con and SpringHill Suites staff once again outdid themselves to make this an amazing experience for my family. The Gen Con Special Services desk and staff really made my wife feel welcome and assisted so much without accessibility needs. And the hotel staff, especially Annie this year, really treated us like cherished guests. Gen Con has over 70,000 unique attendees now, yet we felt personally cared for throughout the event. Huge thanks to all the staff and volunteers who make that happen.
Special thank you to all those unknown attendees who paused in the crowds to make a gap for us to move through, opened doors for us to get in and out of the convention center and restaurants, and patiently walked behind us as we slowly made our way through the crowds. Those unnamed people are who have made Gen Con work so well for my family. We also make sure to thank them as we pass and offer our own assistance to others later to pass on the goodwill. We realize others in wheelchairs or with walkers have not always had wonderful experiences at Gen Con. As a way to say thank you for our years of good experiences at Gen Con and an understanding of the challenges of accessibility, this year I had Wheelchair Charioteer badge ribbons printed. I handed them out as I had opportunity to speak to others in wheelchairs or power chairs. I took the time to thank them and their caregivers for attending Gen Con and encouraged them, as we empathize and understand the challenges they are facing when they attend Gen Con. I met so many amazing people while handing out those ribbons and will do it next year again.
Gen Con 2019 was an incredible experience. Each year I cannot imagine how the next year can be even better, but it is. Here is a photo essay of my experiences at Gen Con 2019. Sorting through my photos always helps me remember the moments and solidify them in my memory. Enjoy a glimpse of the fun my family and I had at Gen Con this year.
What were your Gen Con 2019 highlights?
NOTE: I will keep recommending to any Gen Con attendees. Purchase high quality shoes that you break in ahead of the show. They will save your feet and back. Also, follow a 6/3/1 model for each day getting at least six hours of sleep, three healthier meals, and one shower (many times a second before evening events). Drink LOTS of water, not just coffee/energy drinks/soft drinks/alcohol. I know many people who do the late night partying/drinking/gaming and eat all the fun rich and greasy foods, but as I get older I find I have to pace myself better. Sleeping well and eating more fruits and vegetables with less heavy foods and desserts, I find I have way more energy all week. This year we brought a cooler and bin of food and ate quite a few meals and snacks in our hotel room. The bananas and peaches were wonderful mid day energy boosts. Feeling better meant I was friendlier and more emotionally strong throughout the convention.