One of the biggest things for me this year that was either going to hinder me at GenCon Indy was my back, and the bulging disc that I have there that's been causing all sorts of havoc for many moons now. For that reason alone, I was determined to pace myself a little bit more, as well as recognise my personal limits and not get carried away with stuff. In this post that I wrote the day before the convention, I mentioned certain things that I was going to make sure I did, and for the most part I actually managed to do them.
First off, I managed to pack relatively light for the convention, with just a smaller suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a bag with my diabetes meds and some food snacks and the like. The bags turned out to still be pretty heavy for me, given the condition of my back and the bulging disc, but with the shipping home of some of the loot that I purchased and received, the luggage didn't weigh significantly more than they did when I arrived in Indy. It was just that my back was even more stressed from all the walking and the lifting of stuff that I did do that made them seem all that much more weighty. I'm glad I took some extra pairs of underwear and socks, and the clothing I wore was pretty lightweight, but the heat and humidity in Indianapolis didn't seem to make that matter to me. Throw in the major sinus allergies that I suffered from, and well...
Then we come to the health issues. I actually did manage to take care of myself and my health while down there. I adhered to the "3-2-1 Rule" for the convention, although the night we arrived from Ottawa was very difficult for me in that regard, and my back was killing me totally when I finally dragged myself out of bed on the Wednesday morning. I drank a lot of water and stayed hydrated, even with the quantity of Tylenol that I was taking for the pain, but that was helped by the fact that I kept trips outside to the minimum that I could, though spross and I had to go out several times each day. I made sure I ate the minimum two meals, and actually had three meals plus a snack or two every day, and even so lost 7 pounds over the course of the convention. In terms of keeping clean, I feel that I did a good job of that, taking the one shower a day, washing myself down during the day if I felt the need to, and washing my hands and face with soap and water, as well as using hand sanitiser on a regular basis. So far, no ill effects, and I think I've actually managed to avoid con crud this time out. :knock on wood:
Lastly, we come to the pacing. I like to think that I learned from my previous GenCon in 2008 that one couldn't see everything, so one had to make the most of what one could see. The walking limitations imposed by my back on me set my goals for me, I think, and I pretty much stuck to them. I had two Desolation games and two Primeval RPG sessions to run at the convention, and added a third game of Primeval on the Saturday morning, and was pretty glad that I did. I only set up that extra game because I felt up to it, and it worked out fine. I'm a pretty early riser on weekdays anyway, so getting up early didn't bother me all that much although the lack of sleep that one suffers at conventions anyway makes it a bit tougher. The game was more than rewarding, and certainly made up for getting up early that morning. In terms of the Exhibit Hall, it was in a different place this year, and was bigger than ever. I made it a point to spend some time in the Exhibit Hall each and every day, and actually managed to see the entire Hall, some parts of it in more detail than others.
The Exhibit Hall was...massive. One of the things that impressed me is the division of the Hall into seeming sections, and the relatively wide aisles and good lighting in all parts of the Hall. The largest exhibits and booths were the Lego, Mayfair, and Fantasy Flight Games areas, as well as the Art Show and Authors' Avenue as well as Entrepreneurs' Avenue. 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, 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 to purchase specific gaming stuff primarily as some t-shirts, and that's what I did. I did buy an extra, signed copy of All For One: Régime Diabolique and picked up a copy of Unhallowed Metropolis Revised, but other than that pretty much stuck to my guns on the purchases.
While I did get to sit in for a bit on an Airship Pirates scenario running, watch some Broken Rooms being run by Stephen Herron of Greymalkin Designs, and play three rounds of a potential new card game from the folks at *censored!!*, I didn't get to actually play in any games. Nor did I manage to see or go to any of the Seminars that were going on that I was interested in, although I did see some of the action going on in the constantly operating (or so it seemed) Games on Demand area. Lots of interesting games that I could have just jumped at the chance to play in, but time did not allow. Furthermore, because I didn't have a mobile phone or access to a computer at the convention, I couldn't really arrange to meet folks at pre-designated locations and times; for this reason, my socialising at the convention suffered somewhat, but I hope that this won't bite me in the ass when it comes to any business I may get out of this experience, as to be honest, my back/hip/leg pain got in the way of this to a large extent. 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 on you. And I'm proud to say that I stuck to my own limits and physical limitations.
The Omni Severin hotel was a choice that I made consciously. Sure, the hotel is somewhat removed from all the main action over in the Convention Centre and the new JW Marriott, but it was relatively quiet, had some nice areas in it, and was close (as it turned out) to all the games and stuff that I was running and involved in. While I was a bit limited by my back and my physical condition in regards to walking a lot and all, this year's convention was one that I rather enjoyed for the most part and could relax at. Sure, there were some hassles, notably the business with the traveller's cheques, some of the menu options at the Omni Severin, and a couple of details pertaining to the hotel room, but staying at the Omni Severin is one decision that I will not look back on with regret when all is said and done.
As for what I bought, well... Aside from the seven t-shirts that I promised myself, I went to GenCon this year looking for particular products. I would have been happier if the Primeval RPG had been out and available, but I was content to pick up the games that I did, and the surprise of Airship Pirates was kind of nice, since I didn't expect to actually be able to get it, given I was running twice on Saturday. There were a couple of other games that I could easily have bought on impulse, but I came to GenCon with a budget, and I managed to stick to it pretty well. And besides, there was the limit of what I could carry the suitcase and carry-on luggage and how much I could ship home by UPS. I'll leave you with the photographic evidence of what I managed to get at GenCon this year.
This photo does not include six buttons of various types, several trade paperback books that I bought on Authors' Avenue, the seven t-shirts that I purchased, and the Desolation Style Chips that I got from Jamie Gooch. The egg timer that I got from lena_of_fargo is there, if you can see it. :) Please feel free to go ahead and ask me any questions you might wish about the stuff I bought here in the Comments section of my blog. And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, and want to know what the game looks like, here is the picture of the components of The One Ring RPG.
It really is a lovely game, and I'm quite pleased that I got a copy of it.
Do I have any regrets about this year's GenCon Indy? Yes, I do. I wish I could have met up with and spent some time with friends from Twitter and LiveJournal, both old and new. I wish I could have played in a few games for about 8 hours worth of gaming. I wish I could have gotten involved in some of the action at Games on Demand. I wish I could have attended two Seminars in particular. I wish I could have searched the Fantasy Flight Games booth(s) for some of the old Blue Planet v2 products. I wish I had had a bit more money to spend on some of the books whose authors could be found in Authors' Avenue. I wish I could have found a copy of Bunnies & Burrows for a reasonable price. I wish I had spent less money on snack food and the like for the hotel room fridge; I really hope the hotel staff had a good party with some of those snacks. I wish I had eaten breakfast at Le Peep every morning, but if I had done so I would likely have gained several pounds. I wish the guys from Rogue Games had been at the convention, since it would have been good to meet them finally. Most of all, I wish I had not been suffering from such serious sinus allergies and had not had the back problems that I am dealing with that kept me from walking a bit more and seeing some of the stuff that I missed.
With that said, there are several fond memories that I have of this convention that I will treasure. But I'm not going to talk about them here. Suffice to say, GenCon Indy 2011 was a great convention for the most part, and had some real highlights. While I had some problems at the convention, 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.
Goddess, but I miss my old and new friends from GenCon already!
And that's it. GenCon 2011 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, of course.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.