Gencon is an amazing experience that can be a little overwhelming the first few times you attend. The first year I went, I spent probably half of the time staring wide eyed in the exhibit hall. You could probably spend all four days in there and not see everything, but then you’d miss out on all the wonderful things the convention has to offer. Today I want to share some things that have helped me as I have gone to stayed organized and allowed me to enjoy the convention to it’s fullest potential.
- Make a Schedule- A few weeks before Gencon, I make a schedule for myself and whomever is going with me. This normally takes the shape of a spread sheet that is divided into times and each person’s day. For instance this year I am on a different track than my two traveling partners. Each there are two of each day listed( Macko’s Wednesday, Boy’s Wednesday). I could do individual schedules, but it helps us to have it all on one space so I can find them if needed. On the schedule I include time of the event, name of the event and place. If there is an event I want to try to get into with generics, I mark that in italics. I print copies off for everyone so that they can then write in anything they want to add. The schedule helps keep you less stressed because you do not have to flip through tickets to see what is coming up.
- Bring Water and Snacks- During Gencon I carry around a small backpack with bottles of water and a few granola bars. Some of my events are as long as four hours, so when I am playing I do not want to have to get up to go find a drink. It is convenient to have it with you, and also cheaper.
- Plan Your Purchases- This one is probably the one I struggle with the most, and is mostly important if you are not staying downtown. If you are parking with Gate Ten or catching an Uber between your hotel and the convention center, you will want to be careful about when you buy those big purchases. Whenever possible I suggest planning your exhibit hall purchases around a time that you may be stopping back by your car. Many games are very heavy, and you don’t want to go buy multiple games that you are going to have to lug around all day.
- Find Time to Sleep and Shower- This may sound like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how many people do not do those two things. Just please, make time for them, everyone around you will thank you.
- Budget for Food– Our food budget often ends up being one of the mostly costly things at Gencon for us. Each person comes in with a different plan for this, but make sure you think ahead whether you will be packing a lunch, buying from the food trucks, or eating at the several restaurants in the surrounding area. We mostly eat at the food trucks, but we pack breakfast bars to help with costs and to allow us to be at the convention center bright and early.
- Research Games You May Be Interested In- The exhibit hall is overwhelming for first time con-goers. There are all kinds of games, gaming accessories, gaming art, and other random things. It helps if you go in having a plan, maybe thinking about games you absolutely want to add to your collection at Gencon. This takes a little bit of research before getting there, but then you will be happy knowing what you are getting. Now, of course finding something that stands out to you there as well is great and how I have often added to my collection. It is okay to mix your plan with something new.
- Plan Where You Will Meet- There are a lot of people at Gencon, so if you get separated from your group, it is a good idea to have a meeting spot ahead of time so that you know where to find your party. This can be decided before getting to the convention or after getting the lay of the land. In the past we have set our meeting spot outside the hall where D&D was being held or by the two inflatable sheep on dice (you’ll know what I mean when you see it!)
- Bring a Spare Battery for Your Phone- If you are like me and love pictures, or are going to be separated from your group for a lot of the convention it is a good idea to have a spare battery pack for your phone. It just gives a little extra comfort in case your phone battery is drained throughout the day, and a little extra safety in case you would need to reach someone.
- If You Need Help Talk to a Staff Member- One of the really nice things about Gencon is there are a ton of staff members stationed around. If you are lost or need clarification about something, stop and ask them. They will be more than happy to direct you to the right area.