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Not GenCon
This year, Jenn and I decided to skip GenCon and instead spend our vacation time and money on a different trip. Originally it was going to be a big trip to another country, and eventually it scaled all the way down to just a week in Maine. Ah well, still I'm looking forward to the vacation. The choice about not going to GenCon though, well six months ago it made perfect sense, but now I'm pretty sure it's the dumbest choice we've made. Both of us constantly moan taht we can't believe we're not going this year. I suppose if nothing else, it certainly has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for going next year.

In the mean time, I figured since I won't get to go to GenCon, maybe it was time I checked out one of the smaller local conventions. I went to VeriCon once a long while back, though remember little of it. I've been aware of TempleCon for the past couple years, but never made the effort. Of course, both of those are in the winter, and I was hoping for a little more immediate gratification. Then, yesterday I discovered Open Gaming Con. It's happening, well, right now as I write this not a 40 minute drive from my house.

So yeah, Jenn and I drove up there today. Mostly it was idle curiosity. I knew it was unlikely I'd actually get into a game, and honestly I wasn't really interested in getting into a game. I mostly just wanted to see what a small local convention looked like. The pictures pretty much show the entire thing. It was both larger and smaller than I expected.

The site says they get 200-300 attendees. That's about exactly 1/100th the size of GenCon, which gets around 20-30k attendees. The convention is in a pretty nice hotel up in NH, taking up two large ballrooms and a couple smaller meeting rooms. The larges ballroom holds all the roleplaying/board games, and the somewhat smaller one all the miniature games. There was one major game store present in the vendor's area, and a couple smaller tables devoted to ancellory gaming related vendors.

The con looked empty though. Only a few of the tables in either room actually had games running. I think though this was because of our timing. We arrived around 1:30, and the first gaming slot was scheduled 9am to 1pm, and the second from 2pm to 6pm. There we were, right between slots, and I suspect a lot of people probably took off to grab some grub.

I guess that's the major difference between the small local con and the big con. The local con is much more about playing actual games. It has to be, as there really isn't much else. The $25 reg fee surely didn't seem worth the 15 minutes or so we were there to browse the couple of vendors and look at the pair of rooms. Though I certainly don't begrudge them the money, I knew that I was likely to pay a lot and not see or do much, and I like the idea that perhaps my money will help encourage this little con to continue and maybe even grow.

So other than gaming, what is it about GenCon that draws me in? What the heck do I do in all those hours I'm not gaming? I suppose a big part of it is the giant dealers room. It's not so much that I couldn't buy anything in there elsewhere, but simply the fact that it's drawn together in one physical space. It's fantastic in how overwhelming it is, and I'm sure I'm exposed to a lot of things I wouldn't go looking for on my own.

And that hints at another thing that I love about GenCon - the pure spectacle of it. So many gamers playing so many games all in one spot is just freaking cool to see. When else will you be in a huge crowd with tens of thousands of people and not feel intimidated by it? It's not just the numbers, but the knowledge that everyone there shares my interest, and the confidence that I could probably spark up an interesting conversation with just about anyone I bump into.

Perhaps in future, if I find a local con that isn't happening the very day I stumble into it, I will make a bigger effort of going. Maybe register ahead of time, perhaps even run a game or two myself. It seems like it could be fun.

But you can also bet your pants I'll be GenCon next year. What the hell was I thinking?
July 25th, 2009 - 04:52 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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