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Request for Questions: Gen Con Packing & Planning

Friends, folks, Internet people,

I’m looking for your questions about what to pack, what to plan, pitfalls that have happened to you or folks you know that you’d like expert answers about. Even if you have an answer, and just want to hear other answers to see if there’s something easier, cheaper, or better, please ask in the comments! A thing will happen soon that involves answer them.

When asking, please say if you’re:

  • Just there to play games
  • Also running games
  • Being an exhibitor
  • Being media
  • Or some other overall gig you have at Gen Con

(If you have tips, save them, as I’ll be asking those later. And please don’t answer questions in the comments right now — there will be time for that later.)

– Ryan

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15 Responses to Request for Questions: Gen Con Packing & Planning

  1. blackcoat says:

    Sort of a general question: if you’re just into playing games, is it worth the expense to travel to GenCon?

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      First question, and it’s the one entirely impossible to answer! :D Let’s stick to packing and planning. Whether it’s “worth it” to go is totally subjective and not helpful to get into for this.

  2. John Adamus says:

    (I’m at Gen Con to play games, run games, give panels, meet clients, find new clients, etc etc)

    * How formal are the awards shows? “Dress” clothes eat a lot of luggage space.

    * Is it a safe assumption to figure on at least one restaurant meal a day each day, budgetwise?

    * Is GenCon made “less fun” without alcohol?

  3. I attend Gen Con for networking and finding freelance work. If I’m lucky, I get to play games, too! Questions (some of which I already know an answer to):

    What’s the most affordable way to get from the airport to the convention area?

    Oh gods, I need some caffeine. Is there any place near the convention that sells Coca-Cola Zero for less than $3-4 a bottle?

    I keep missing opportunities to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner with my online friends. Is there a good way to coordinate with others so I don’t wind up eating alone?

    How should I pack going to the convention to ensure I have enough room for my Gen Con purchases?

    That didn’t work. I purchased too many things. How do I get all my Gen Con swag back home now?

    Where’s a good place for breakfast?

    When I’m leaving Gen Con, should I grab a bite to eat in the downtown area or should I get something at the airport?

    Bloody hell! Why does TSA security screening take so long when leaving Indianapolis? I just have card games in my carry-on. Seriously, man.

  4. We run the First Exposure Playtest Hall.
    Because we run our own conventions, we thought we were beyond pitfalls, right? We’ve worked tradeshows. We’ve lived in hotels for weeks at a shot. This should have been cake.

    Except that the tradeshows we’ve worked have been DC, NYC and SF. Those cities are just… bigger. and absorb attendees differently from the critical mass of Gen Con in Indy. It’s just different. And gaming conventions at hotels in NJ are different from trade shows.

    We were not prepared for the lines to get food. We were not prepared for the total lack of grocery store or market anywhere near the convention center. By Sunday of our first Gen Con running FEPH, I was making puppy dog eyes and pleading with well-prepared local mamas for fresh fruit.

    We got sucked into the “food will be easy! It’s a tradeshow, after all! They want us to eat!” pitfall. It wasn’t easy when you factor in all the complicating factors.

    Also, there’s no where to buy basic office supplies downtown! We suddenly needed easels and poster board, which required a stupidly expensive cab ride outside of “downtown”. We were NOT prepared for that.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Good stuff! Right now, though, I’m looking for questions. I’m going to ask for suggestions in not too long, once I get a sense of what people are wondering or panicking about.

  5. Oh! so, that does turn into a question! or a couple of questions that I had the first year!

    Where’s the best place to grab a fast cup of coffee?

    If you’re working the show and have a tightly scheduled lunch break, what’s the best strategy for getting “real” food?

    In general, how can one avoid the hour-long waits for food? the food trucks helped, but…

  6. (I really did follow instructions! You said “pitfalls that have happened to you”… I read carefully before replying. :-) There were implied questions in my pitfalls, like “I need a stapler! I forgot to staple my character sheets. Where can I get one?”)

  7. Marian McBrine says:

    I’m going to Gen Con to run the SPA program and the Puppet program.

    I don’t really have any questions. I’m usually the one with all the answers. I can’t be stumped with Gen Con questions.

    I guess it might be fun to hear what bars people prefer, and/or if they have any “secret hangouts’ they go to to get away from the crowds.

  8. Mike Myler says:

    So I’m hauling a ton of material into the exhibitor’s room; a TV (boxed, thank Tymora), a few boxes of books to sell, and a re-purposed construction barrel to put the TV on.

    Can I get away with putting my flashers on Wednesday afternoon and just hauling ass into/out of there, then park my car at the hotel? Or are the metro going to ticket me/give me lip?

  9. Ben Woerner says:

    I’m bringing books to GenCon to sell. How should I bring them?

  10. Carl Klutzke says:

    I go to see people I don’t normally get to see face-to-face, and to play games I don’t normally get to play.

    There is _so_ _much_ going on at Gen Con, I can pretty quickly start to feel overwhelmed and small. What are some strategies for overcoming this?

  11. Michael P says:

    I’m going to GenCon for work – meeting clients, and am going to be in and out of the exhibitor hall a lot.

    As a first time attendee, what are things you need to bring that you wouldn’t expect from a normal Convention?

    Where are good places to eat around the show? Both “I need food fast” and “I want good food”.

  12. Mark Thompson says:

    With all the buzz over new games debuting at Gen Con, there is a mad dash for copies of hot games. How do you make an intelligent decision about about what game or games to purchase when the information is so limited and the time you have to pick up a copy is limited as well?

  13. Amber Stull says:

    Going to play games! What things at GenCon are a must see/must do?