Another GenCon has faded away, which means it is time for a series of “wrap-up” posts from yours truly. It was no surprise that GenCon was just as awesome as it was last year, but in a few different ways. There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll be breaking up this report into four posts.
The Places – Today’s Post – Here I discuss our accommodations, the GenCon facilities, and the general state of the convention as I found it.
The Events – Here I discuss the various games, seminars, & panels I attended at the convention.
The Night Life – When the dealer room closes, a whole different GenCon appears. I discuss “GenCon After Dark” here.
The Bounty – Here I discuss my various acquisitions and the generosity of my fellow convention goers.
Things you won’t see in this GenCon Wrap Up – Last year, as I was new to GenCon (not my first, but my first where I was really engaged in activities at the convention), and I made it a point to keep track of all the great people my wife & I met at the convention. That list has grown so expansive, it’s virtually impossible to name you all. While a few of you might get mentioned in the above posts, know that everyone I met at the convention this year was really wonderful. Never once did I walk away from a conversation thinking, “That person was a JERK”. You guys are ALL AWESOME.
THE PLACES –
Well, due to being a late bird, Anna & I barely got a hotel within the city. This year, we stayed at the Sheraton on Ohio Street, on the back side of the City Circle. It’s about a mile hike to the convention center from there, and the nearest SkyWalk doesn’t connect until you reach the Circle Center Mall. While this normally wouldn’t be an issue, it did cause difficulties with Anna having to cart all of her classroom supplies (she taught SPA classes at the Convention again this year) back and forth. This was great for making both of us a bit hurried, tired, & grumpy. Anna took it like a pro, me less so. Next year, I will fight for a hotel connected to the Convention Center. I will make this happen – somehow.
The Sheraton itself was nice enough, and it was cool to see fellow gamers making use of the lobby (to play games) and the 10th floor outdoor pool (for relaxing). Like a bonehead, I forgot my trunks, so there was no water recreation for me. The room was nice, but with only 4 elevators, checking out on Sunday was nightmare. A bellhop actually brought me (and our luggage) down the freight elevator to save time.
The Convention Center was basically the same as last year. Fortunately, the GenCon staff made a change to registration scheduling so that you could pick up your badges over night on Wednesday. That simple move really cleared up the congestion on the following days. Even though convention attendance was up, moving through the crowds (around the Convention Center) was fairly easy to do. The one big exception was the dealer hall. The dealer hall remains the most crowded place in the Convention Center and little has been done (that I could see) to fix that. The crowds were particularly bad on Friday & Saturday. People seemed more careful to stay out of each other’s way than last year, but I still saw plenty of occasions where only a very loud, “EXCUSE ME” would get people to move out-of-the-way in the aisle. With more families coming to the convention (which is a good thing), more strollers and handholding children will be using the dealer hall. I really hope the GenCon staff can do something to alleviate this congestion.
I found that most of the events at the convention were scheduled in appropriate rooms. Anna’s SPA classes all seemed to have plenty of seating and working space. Likewise with the few seminars I attended. One notable exception was the scheduling of recorded panels at the Hotel in Victoria Station. Every hour a train would rumble pass, something that’s rather inconvenient to those trying to record audio for their sessions. I’m hoping this will be addressed by the convention organizers next year as well.
For the most part, my surroundings at the convention were reasonably comfortable. There were a couple of times I would have liked some additional seating (either in the food courts or along the convention hall corridors), but that probably has more to do with my age than with an actual requirement. Overall, the Indianapolis Convention Center continues to be a great location for the wonderment that is GenCon.
Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. R.M. Walker, who can be found in numerous places on the internet as “DeadOrcs”, is a long time gamer with some 30 years experience playing RPGs. Despite occasional forays into the bizarre, Randall has always come back to Dungeons & Dragons.