September 4th, 2017
So, how was my GenCon 2017? I guess that depends on perspective, but of course, hindsight is wonderful.
When it comes down to it, on a scale of 1 to 10, I rate GenCon 50 9/10 from Tuesday to Saturday, and 4/10 from Saturday afternoon to the end of the convention.
My real regret is not meeting half my virtual friends who were at the convention.
One of the things I wrote about before I left for GenCon Indy in this blog was the fact that there were certain things I wanted to do and accomplish at the convention. For the most part, I think I managed what I set out to do, but there were some (major) wrinkles along the way.
For one thing, while I managed to pack as lightly as I could for the convention, with just a smaller suitcase (with a messenger bag inside it), an overnight carry-on bag, and a carry-on bag with my meds, both diabetes and other, I was a bit thrown off by the addition of the insulin therapy materiels that I needed to take with me. You'd think I'd have been used to that, given that I've been on insulin for several years now, but it's not the same taking the insulin therapy stuff with me when going to a convention out of Ottawa. Still I managed. Anyway, back to the luggage... Even so, I found the luggage to be quite heavy (despite the Swiss Gear luggage being relatively lightweight) due to the fact that my left shoulder was bothering me quite a bit before we left, and this didn't improve during the Tuesday morning trip to the airport and the flights and all. spross was a great help in this regard (more on that later). Suffice to say I'm glad that I shipped The Dark Eye RPG stuff that I picked up in Indy via FedEx (a goddess awful costly shipping, but what can you do?) home, as that cut down the suitcase weight somewhat, though I was afraid with several of the purchases I made after the stuff went out with FedEx (such as the old TORG supplements and the Terraforming Mars boxed set) that the suitcase was going to be too heavy come the Monday of travel back to Ottawa. I was spared this, to be honest, because SteveR and I split the weight of some of the gaming material between our check-in luggage, and that helped tremendously.
The hardest part of the convention for me was the Friday and Saturday, carrying around the gaming stuff to run the two Coriolis - The Third Horizon RPG scenarios, and I was very grateful to have SteveR around to help me out by carrying the main book and GM Screen. My shoulder had given out on the Friday, and I was in intense pain for most of the week starting on Friday morning. Since I never got back to the Westin Indianapolis hot tub, as it was mostly body soup for the week once the GenCon attendees started arriving, there was absolutely no relief for my poor shoulder, and the lumpy, much softer than usual bed didn't help. I was glad that I packed the extra pairs of underwear and socks, to be honest, given what happened Wednesday early afternoon, and I'm also glad that SteveR and I had stayed in downtown Indy this time around, rather than being 30 minutes away at a hotel like the Indianapolis Marriott North (where we stayed in 2015). That would have been disastrous.
When it comes to my health issues, well... What can I say? Other than the stupidity of not eating properly diabetically on the Tuesday of the flight to Indy that created the mess I went through on the Wednesday, and the business on Friday where the same thing could have happened, I would have been fine for the weekend. Except, of course, I overdid things on Saturday with the walk from the Westin to Union Station, and ended up with the bad blisters on my feet. From Saturday onwards, the convention this year was somewhat of a living hell for me, as the stabbing pains in the bottom of my right foot was like walking on broken glass without being a yogi trained for such things. I seriously considered heading back to Ottawa on the Saturday, but truth be told, I wanted to run the Coriolis - The Third Horizon game session Saturday night and I didn't want to let SteveR down and all that. I stuck it out, but the wheelchair being manual and my inability to use the left shoulder and arm made me have to rely on SteveR for motive power, and I really do regret that. He was going through his own stuff at the convention (and I'm not going to mention what; if he wants to share the details, he'll do so in his blog), and I really felt guilty most of the weekend. And, to put it mildly, I was somewhat depressed.
On the positive side, I managed to take care of myself and my health for the most part, as through the insulin therapy and the sheer amount of walking prior to Saturday afternoon I was getting made me feel "off" several times, resulted in some dizziness at times and feeling light-headed. Fortunately, I had glucose tabs with me, and these were very helpful over the week in Indy. (Except of course the night where we went to High Velocity for supper, as I'd forgotten the glucose tabs.) I drank a lot of water and tried to stay hydrated, but wasn't all that successful on a couple of days. For the most part, I pretty much followed the "8-3-1 Rule", though there were several nights where I barely got 4.5 hours of sleep, but I made sure I ate the three meals per day - breakfast, lunch, and supper - and supplemented that with snacks twice a day, and got in my one shower per day... Even so, I lost 6.8 pounds over the course of the convention. I didn't use as much antibacterial solution, relying more on soap, and did not catch con crud ::knock on wood::. Just the feelings from the heat and humidity, combined with the physical exertion at times, I guess, made me feel a bit dirty and grungy at times. I did have to adjust the insulin shots down during the convention, as my sugars plummeted from the physical activity at the convention.
Finally, there's the pacing. One of the things that I promise myself every convention I go to, and GenCon is no exception, is that I'm going to pace myself. GenCon is one of those conventions where this is always a real issue, because it's just sooooooo big that one just can't see everything, and so one has to make the most of what one can see while one is there. Staying in a downtown hotel helped with this time management, for obvious reasons, and I did a lot more walking during the first part of the week (Tuesday through Saturday), and virtually none during the Saturday/Sunday period or on Monday. This was the biggest GenCon Indy so far, and the convention has spread out and expanded so much there was a lot more ground to cover. I had wanted to play in some games, but such was not to be, no doubt due to the running of the two Coriolis - The Third Horizon games and the hit-or-miss method of using Generic tickets. And after Saturday, that was made more difficult. I did get to play in some demos, which was fine, and I loved playing in the Aventuria Card Game stuff at the Westin, but I was pretty pleased overall with the convention, though I'd have liked to have played in some full games, rather than demos.
As I've noted earlier, GenCon is just too big to see everything. I did a bit of wandering around during the Thursday and Friday when I had the chance, and was able to take some photos of people and stuff that interested me. I think I was a bit jaded this year at the various gaming materials I saw, since most of my photos are of people and the like. One thing that I photographed on late Saturday afternoon was the balloon dragon that was quite impressive.
What was really cool about it, as per usual at GenCon, is there's an auction/raffle where someone got to "slay the dragon" by exploding the balloons one at a time. I would love to have been there for such destruction, but the wheelchair days prevented this. That and I'm not sure I could take the explosive noise of the balloons popping, truth be told.
There were a lot of folks in costume over the weekend, and I took several photos of folks. One of the costumes I really liked was the Revolutionary Captain America. Great costume.
Revolutionary Captain America
Needless to say, one of the real highlights for me at this convention was seeing some of the folks that I like in the gaming industry. GenCon is certainly the place to do that. It was good to see Darrell, Dean, Eric and Ross from Ulisses Spiele NA; Robin, Simon and Gar from Pelgrane Press; Chris Birch and the folks from Modiphius Entertainment (they really do have some of the best rpgs out there these days, as witness the ENnie Awards); and Jeff Combos at the Exile Games booth. The real pleasure for me this GenCon was meeting Jeff Barber, totally coincidentally at the IGDN Social at Loughmiller's Pub and my virtual friend, T.R. Knight, whom I'd not met until GenCon. He gifted me some cherry jam (it tastes delish, by the way!), but it was a pleasure meeting him and his wife and daughters. I'd wish we'd had more time to socialise, but GenCon is busy and his schedule was pretty tight. We did talk a couple of other times, and it was lovely bumping into them in the ICC hallways when SteveR and I were coming back from supper at the Marriott on Sunday evening. I also got to pick the brains of Darrell Hayhurst, Dean Gilbert, and Ross Watson about all things Torg Eternity, and had a good time chatting with them. Eric Simon and Mhàire Stritter of Ulisses Spiele proper were great as well, and I wish I'd talked more to the folks there about The Dark Eye RPG, as I'm now in love with the game. That said, for everyone I did talk with, there were others I missed. I didn't get to see a lot of my Twitter friends and those I've only met virtually there, and I'm really sad about that. (No names here, but you know who you are!)
The Exhibit Hall was as usual, massive. Actually, more massive than the one in 2015. (Not really surprising given how GenCon has grown and the fact that this was the 50th anniversary of the convention.) I'm not going to go into details about the Exhibit Hall and dealers' room since it was...just too big. And to be honest, the fact that I was wheelchair-bound on Saturday and Sunday meant I didn't get to wander and see as much of the hall as I would have liked. I will say that some of the best stuff I saw was at the smaller dealers, those tucked away, and some of the really fun stuff was in the Entrepreneurs' Avenue. That said, most of the game manufacturers were there, with some exceptions, but there were also folks selling game accessories, steampunk clothes and gear, kilts and other items associated with the culture, t-shirts, buttons, Doctor Who merchandise, dice bags and dice accessories, books, art prints and... well, you name it, you could probably find it here. Some of the stuff that I saw really impressed me, but I had come to GenCon Indy to purchase specific gaming stuff that I was looking for - primarily some Torg Eternity stuff (nothing was available other than the dice and the new t-shirt), some t-shirts (I think I bought too many, but c'est la vie), and The Dark Eye RPG. I was also hoping to find some of the old TORG RPG game supplements, and lucked out with that. I also picked up a couple of games that I wasn't planning on - Terraforming Mars and Mermaid Adventures - and I'm glad I did so, and would have picked up Photosynthesis and Five Tribes, but didn't know how to ship them home after I'd done The Dark Eye mailing through FedEx and wasn't sure I'd be able to take them back with me in the luggage.
I didn't get to play in any full fledged games, mostly due to the fact that all the games I wanted to get in were full by the time my place in the game registration queue came up and had bad luck with Generic tickets (again). Plus there was the fact that the games I could get into were also scheduled around the times I was running Coriolis - The Third Horizon. However, I did sit and watch a lot of games when I had the chance and really enjoyed what I saw. This included some Photosynthesis, Torg Eternity, and several others. I should have tried to catch some of The Dark Eye games as well, but such was not to be. I did manage to play in some Aventuria games with a guy that I met at the Westin, and had a lot of fun (winning a couple of duels helps the enjoyment, I think). :)
This year, I used the mobile phone to take a lot of pictures of stuff at the convention (mostly for personal use) and did a good degree of tweeting as well. I used my tweets of the convention to keep a record of my time at GenCon 50 this year, and they have proved invaluable for these convention reports. Didn't really get to use the mobile phone to set up socializing or anything, with the exception of two things that I'm not going to discuss. Am I sorry about the stuff I didn't get to see or do? Sure, but again it comes down to making sure you pace yourself as well as the health and other restrictions that you have for yourself. And I'm proud to say that I stuck to my own lifestyle and physical limitations (for the most part, with one glaring error).
That leads me to discussing the hotel... What can I say about the Westin Indianapolis? The hotel was right downtown, with less than a five minute walk to the ICC, and the room was very nice. I actually went through the ADA service that GenCon offers to get the hotel room, and was glad that I did. Comfortable, accommodating to those with physical injuries, and a built-in mini-fridge as well! The staff at the hotel was extremely nice, and were so helpful during the convention - the photocopying of the Coriolis - The Third Horizon material, the business with the soiled clothes (1 of 2 of my pairs of pants), the events after the injury and the wheelchair (well, okay, that was mainly the head of security on Saturday) - and the place was relatively busy all the time once the convention started. I liked having all the gamers around, but it wasn't claustrophobic as was the actual ICC and some of the other venues. Overall, I would stay again at the Westin Indianapolis without any hesitation at all.
As for the stuff that I bought at GenCon (what is affectionately called "the loot", I've discussed a bit of that above, but I'll leave that for a separate post with a ton of photos. hehe
Do I have any regrets about GenCon 2017? Yep, I do... Given the size of this convention, one just cannot see the whole convention and do everything that one would like to do. First off, I regret not seeing more of the Exhibit Hall and the Dealers' Hall (I think I may have seen 25% if I'm lucky). Secondly, I regret not getting to the GenCon Museum, which I really would have liked to have visited. I regret not getting to play in any Torg Eternity or The Dark Eye games, 'cause that was something I really wanted to do at the convention. I wish I had spent a bit more time (heck, a lot more time!) at the Art Show and Authors' Avenue. I deeply regret not getting to meet and spend some time with virtual friends, old and new (that I've met the past year or so on the internet; you Twitter folks know what I'm talking about!). Most of all, I absolutely regret taking the actions that led to my feet blistering and the cellulitis, as that put a huge damper on my convention on the Saturday and Sunday. All of that said, I enjoyed myself for the most part, but am somewhat relieved that I can't do this convention every year (unless one of the game companies flies me in to it! :)) Just too expensive to do every year, between the airfare and the hotel room costs. And the fact that one has to book rooms so early. And the fact that I'm getting old and that this was a tough convention to do given my state of health.
And that's it. GenCon 2017 is now well and truly a wrap for me, other than all the great reading material I've got from the convention. And the memories, both good and bad, of course.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.