Jul 16

Gen Con: A Beginner’s Guide Part One


If you doing Gen Con properly this will be the look on your face!


Season’s greetings to all of my fellow geeks and geekettes!  As I am sure you are well aware, it will soon be that magical time that comes only once a year,  GEN CON!  It is a time when dreams not only come to life, but sometimes walk the halls in a Slave Girl Leia costume!  Hubba hubba.  It is a time when everything that I and many of you love most, comes together in one location for a glorious festival of hedonerdism!

Far be it from me to speak ill about my favorite event of each year, but it has occurred to me that Gen Con’s greatest strength, having everything awesome, can also be its greatest weakness.  While a thoroughly seasoned Gen Con attendee myself, there are those out there who will be joining in the fun for the first time, and they are in grave danger of sensory overload.  The opportunities for fun are omnipresent, but you are not, and it is this desire to partake of everything and the inability to do so that can frustrate rookies and some veterans alike.

Fear not my little geeklings, The Dirty Hamm (AKA me) will come to the rescue with a series articles dedicated to improving a Gen Con newcomer’s chances of not just surviving, but thriving at the Con.  By the time I am done with you, you will be writing advice columns on Gen Con strategy for your own blogs!

Step One:  What Kind of Nerd Are You?

I am sure you are thinking, ” It is gaming convention moron.  I am a gamer, duh!”  Is that so?  I suppose you know exactly which of the 2700+ events you most wish to participate.  Did I mention that is only the number of board game events?  No?  Good luck sir, but unless you are some kind con attending prodigy or are armed with a well thought out plan, your Gen Con experience will suffer.

When one formulates any sort of strategy, the first and most important step is to identify what goal you are hoping to achieve and start from that point.  Obviously, the goal at Gen Con is to have fun, but with all that awesome in one place it is necessary to prioritize. The only way to do that is find out what kind of nerd you are and pursue the events and attractions that will bring you the most joy!

Modern Board Game Geek:

Whatever phase of your life that you happen to be in right now, you have at some point discovered that you love board games!  You may even border on being obsessed with them to the extent of spending an inordinate amount of time on www.boardgamegeek.com (or www.lifeingames.com hehe!), studying rankings, pouring over reviews, designing your own games, thinking about strategies to crush your feeble opponents, or perhaps you have even taken the final steps into true depravity and started a website of you own.  Enough about me though, if any or all of these apply to you I think it is quite clear that you are a modern board game geek.

CCG Warrior:

You revel in exactly two things:  an endless array of beautiful cards with which to assemble a lethally honed cardboard killing machine and the use of it completely annihilate anyone foolish enough to oppose you in organized play!  It is competition and the glory that comes with it that you seek.  Trust me, I know.  Once upon a time, I was you.

Role Playing Hero:

You have a love for stories that tell of great heroism and wicked villainy. However, for you, merely reading about such things is not enough.  You want, no, need to be part of the adventure and through the use of your powerful imagination will be transported into times of myth and legend to perform epic feats worthy of song, or find a good death trying.  Long ago, when the world was young, I walked this path as well, but that is a tale for another time.

Warlord of the Minis:

Does it even matter from which genre the troops that fill you mighty legions hail?  Of course not!  All that matters is that there are worlds to conquer and foes to vanquish!  Whether on the battlefields of history, realms of fantasy, a dark and distant future, or the far-flung worlds of deep space, the miniatures war gamer knows what is best in life:  To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear their lamentations as their defeated army is returned with great shame to its foam filled travel case!

Nerd Culture Diva:

For you, seeing cool stuff and sometimes being seen as the cool stuff is the greatest thrill you can experience.  Maybe you love anime or fantasy art.  Maybe you seek the autographs of celebrities or watching classic movies that all nerds identify with and love.  Maybe you take this passion one step further than most and express it through wearing elaborate homemade costumes that are so fantastic you are temporarily elevated to near celebrity status yourself for so perfectly portraying a nerd culture icon.  Maybe you just like to wear a cape.  All that matters to you is seeing the show or being the show, but whichever it is, it is always about the show!

In Conclusion:

For the next couple of days I want you to consider which of these arch-types best describes you.  Remember, I am not judging here, whether or not I share your particular obsession doesn’t matter to me as all nerds are equally free to pursue their bliss at Gen Con.  Perhaps one of them is a perfect fit, or maybe you are a hybrid of more than one, but at least try to determine which is the dominant brand of your nerdish delights.  The next installment will determine the extent of your Gen Con resources (time and money) and the third will combine those resources with your nerd arch-type to formulate a basic plan for a successful Gen Con experience!

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