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GenCon and Me
My dad asked me last night how many GenCons I've been to over the years. He was probably remembering the first one we went to together, or should I say, the first one he took me to? We flew out to Milwaukee, where I spent all day in the Mecca playing games while he went to baseball games and toured breweries. I'm sure we both had a great time, even if we only saw each other in the evenings.

Anyway, I started to wonder just how many of these things I really had been to. So I thought I'd try and list them out:

1. 1992
My first GenCon was when I was 15. I don't know how I talked my dad into it. But for some reason, he actually agreed to take me and my friend Chris across 1/3 of the country for a hobby he probably doesn't quite understand to this day. I think the only real detail of the show I remember was that it was the 25th anniversary, and TSR had a huge castle in the middle of the dealer's room. Freaking awesome.

2. 1993
I'm able to date these first two shows because on the second one I bought a t-shirt which I don't have anymore, but I remember had the year prominently written on it. I was 16, and Chris's mother decided to take a turn bringing us, this time driving 24 hours straight in a giant van full of teen-agers. The woman was a saint. Chris's brother Bill joined us, as did my cousin Rich.

This was also the year Magic: the Gathering came out. My cousin Rich bought somewhere in the range of 50-100 cards. The following year, after realizing what an ass the guy was and that he had left his cards at my house (where he had been living the past year mooching off my folks), I sold them for about $50-60. Man, I wish I had held onto those cards. First printings must be worth something.

3. 1994
The summer before Sr. year of high school, I actually went alone to GenCon. I was only 17, so I borrowed my brother's college ID in case the hotel carded me. The only time I ever took the thing out of my wallet was to get a student discount at Subway.

I also remember meeting a guy who was maybe a year or two older than me who was also on his own. I don't remember his name, and unfortunately we never exchanged any contact info. But while we were there, we did sort of latch onto each other, hanging out at the hotel in the evenings. (The "hotel" was actually dorm rooms at the local college). I remember one evening some local high school or college kids came by who were on a scavenger hunt. They needed a picture of themselves on a golf course, but since it was so late they knew they wouldn't be able to get in. So they asked me and my friend to hold a couple props (golf club, funny hat, etc) and pose with them to try and fake it.

4. 1996?
I missed GenCon the summer after high school -- I was probably too busy getting ready for college. I don't recall if the next time I went was the very next year, it might have been two years I missed. So the years for the next couple of entries may be off by one.

I told my buddy Lam about going to GenCon, and he wanted to go. So we bought ourselves tickets and went. We drove down to my folk's house so we could fly out of NY. I remember a particularly insane cab ride to the airport which probably cemented the NY cabbie stereotype for Lam. I also remember that Lam sat next to a woman who turned out worked for Wizards of the Coast. They had just gotten big enough that they were spreading their employees out on different flights, "just in case". Kind of creepy, really.

Oh, and this was the year that we were introduced to Legend of the Five Rings CCG. They were handing out free promotional decks at the convention. Lam and I each grabbed two. After having avoided the Magic craze four years earlier, I was finally sucked into a CCG.

5. 1997
The infamous "truck full of miniatures" year. Lam and I wanted to go to GenCon again, but couldn't afford the flights. However, it turns out we knew a guy who worked for a local miniature company in CT and needed a truck full of miniatures driven out there. We signed up, thinking it was a simple quid-pro-quo of doing the driving in exchange for free transport. The company had other ideas -- we ended up being virtual slave labor at their booth. Frankly, the honor of sleeping on their hotel room floor and getting free exhibitor badges was hardly worth the hours we put in. I wasn't even old enough yet to get into the Safe House for the after hours parties.

Oh, and we saw the Violent Femmes performing at some big outdoor concert while we were there. Go figure.

I'm not numbering this year, because I didn't go. I tried to organize a third trip, but Lam didn't think he could do it. Then, in the last minute, after I had made other plans, he not only decides to go but also ropes a bunch of other friends into going as well. I was a little annoyed about that. Punks.

I then went through a long spell of not going. Didn't have the time or money I suppose. I had other things going on.

6. 2004
I don't even remember what the original impetus for this trip was. Our D&D group decided to go to GenCon, and I remember being quite startled to hear that Roly really wanted to go. So we rented a van and drove out to Indy (I think it was the 2nd year they held it there?). We broke the 20 hour drive into two days, stopping along the way in PA at BJ's folks house for some good food, company, and pugs!

As I recall, Dan and Roly got ill on the ride home, and the next day I myself caught the GenCon plague. Roly will always remember this trip as "20 hours in the car with the MacGoohens". We created Living Greyhawk characters to play that year that were a clan of dwarven brothers -- the MacGoohens. We practiced our Scottish accents the whole way there. I don't think Roly appreciated it.

7. 2005
The second year our group expanded to include two more friends, but the loss of one. I think we were up to 8 people. We rented a pair of suites to hold us all. Roly and I learned that as much as we love them, we should not share a room with BJ and Joe. The stereo snoring scared us off to the other suite on day 2.

Also, this year we learned better and decided to fly instead of driving. And this is the first year that I blogged about the experience.

8. 2006
Last summer our group got whittled down to just 5. It was still a blast. Funny, I guess this is too recent to be full of funny little memories to expound upon. But, you can read all the details from last year's blog entries.

So, that's it. I guess that means this year is number 9. Pretty cool. Actually, more exciting numbers-wise, is next year. It'll be the 5th year I attend with the same group (assuming they go again next year), and my 10th gencon.
Of course my first ever GenCon was the 25th anniversary and this year is the 40th. Man, that makes it sound so old.

I can't wait.
July 9th, 2007 - 12:07 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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