Guest Post by Josh Vogt
I have long loved conventions for a variety of reasons, everything from meeting authors and artists I admire to gaining new career connections to developing my writing craft to pure entertainment. A lifelong reader and gamer, I simply can never get enough of fantasy and science fictions worlds, whatever format they’re presented in. I love the weird and wacky and wonderful—and conventions basically mainline all of that straight into my veins and brain. I come away from conventions, even the smallest, shortest ones, both exhausted and absolutely jazzed to jump back into the writing and storytelling because I went to get out there and bring my own form of weird and wonderful to the world.
That’s why Gen Con has quickly become what I think of as a cornerstone convention for the year. It’s touted as the “Best Four Days in Gaming,” and that’s no boast. I’ve only been a couple times now, but my hope is to continue going for as long as I’m capable of it. It is simply fulfilling on all fronts, giving me a well-rounded con experience as a reader, a writer, a gamer, and an unashamed geek in general.
You could likely spend the whole convention simply wandering the whole vendor floor without quite seeing everything there is to see—and likely come away with a few credit cards maxed, if you aren’t careful. I joke with some people who buy my books at cons that I take “cash, card, blood, first-born children, and souls,” but by the end of Gen Con, I’m the one considering shelling out a slice of damnation to bring home some particular artwork or another set of shiny dice. Then, of course, there’s the many games for sale, with countless demos being run from morning to night.
Oh, and did I mention the round-the-clock gaming schedule? Doesn’t matter whether you prefer dice, cards, board games, tabletop RPGs, minifigs, LARPing, video games (including VR rigs), or plain ol’ rock-paper-scissors…you’ll find it going on around every corner 24/7. You could sit and game from beginning to end without seeing any other part of the con, barely even leaving your table except for the occasional bite of food and bathroom break.
And then we get to the Writer’s Symposium. Admittedly, as an author, this is the primary reason I have come to love Gen Con. When you have dozens of authors getting together to run workshops, panels, and social shindigs into the wee hours, how can you not have an exhilarating experience? The amount of experience being shared is staggering, and everyone is there to both work hard and have an amazing time. Again, you could spend the whole weekend just attending Symposium events and not even get to the gaming! Each year, the Symposium has been streamlining its programming, has an amazing volunteer crew, and does its best to connect readers and aspiring writers with industry pros of all sorts.
It’s a magnificent mash-up of literary and gaming cultures, recognizing that we’re all in it to have fun, tell stories, create unique experiences, and cheer one another on through another year of learning and growth. Of course, we can still backstab each other during daring games of skullduggery or fight to the bitter end to get the high score during a dungeon run.
Is it crowded? Of course. Is it exhausting? You betcha. Logistically challenging at times, with travel and hotels and whatnot? Start prepping at least half a year in advance, if not earlier.
But in the end, while Gen Con can leave one feeling wrung out, it also leaves you raring for next year at the same time. It can connect you with people from all walks of life who share similar passions and pursuits, and remind you that whatever form of fun you prefer, you’ll always find a community of like-minded folks.
Hope to see you there sometime.
Website: GenCon 2016 Dates: 8/4-8/7
Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. It’s sometimes difficult to know which requires more imagination.