Welcome back for the second part of A Beginner’s Guide to Gen Con! In the first part we attempted to help you determine what sort of nerd you are so that you will be able to formulate a better plan for the big con based on your primary interests. However, there is another major factor that will impact your Gen Con experience, and that is the extent of you personal resources. These resources are a combination of the time and money , either in your normal life, or that you have the ability to allocate from that life specifically to your Gen Con adventure. Fear not, regardless of how vast or miniscule your resources may be, the goal of this series of articles is to transform you into a Gen Con superhero… I am not joking.
Bruce Banner/Hulk Level Resources
This is the lowest level of resources not because the Hulk is any less awesome of a super hero, but because roaming the deserts of the American Southwest with nothing but the rags on your back and two scoops of smash in your pocket is a pretty meager existence. Being able to smash definitely has its merits, but it does not go very far at Gen Con. Now you may ask, “How do I know if my resources qualify as the lowliest of the low?” A fair enough question, and a good sign, because one is almost always painfully aware of being poor and miserable, so if you have to ask you probably are not in this category. However, there are those among us who are blissfully unaware of their plight, never realizing that not everyone lives in a cardboard box under the bridge, subsisting mostly on cheeseburgers earned through questionable means. For those of you using the internet at the library to read this blog, here are some ways to tell if you are a Hulk:
1# You are roaming the deserts of the American Southwest with only the rags on your back and two scoops of smash in your pocket.
2# You have only enough time/money to attend Gen Con for one day at the most.
3# The cost of parking (Around $20.00 per day) is a serious budgetary concern that may force you to choose between games and food.
4# You do not live in Indy and a hotel room is an absolute impossibility. This one assumes you have sufficient gas money to reach the Con.
5# You can just afford the day pass and travel, but have zero dollars for events.
If any of the above described the position you are in then there is no question that you are a Hulk. Remember, I am not judging you. The first Gen Con that I attended was under circumstances very similar to these. Even though it was only for one day and with zero money, I had an absolutely great time. Oh, and plenty of tasty cheeseburgers!
Peter Parker/Spiderman Level Resources
This is the second lowest level of resources because, for much of his history Spiderman was just a student freelancing for the Daily Bugle and struggling to make ends meet. Sure, he eventually marries Mary Jane and begins doing a lot better, but Spidey has always been a hero that has had to consider money an issue. Spiderman has also always been notoriously short of time. Missing stage plays, forgetting to paint walls, and consistently struggling with deadlines and commitments has a problem for him on more than one occasion! If you are a college student rushing from class to class and working for peanuts in some demeaning low paying job you may be at the Spiderman level. If any, or all of the following conditions apply to your coming Gen Con adventure there is little doubt that you are a web head!
#1 You either live in Indy, or have managed to scrape together enough money/friends for carpooling and sleeping ten to a hotel room.
#2 While a badge and lodging have been accounted for, money for events and food is very scarce.
#3 You are very worried about time management because you and your buddies have to start and end days together due to pooled resources.
Being at the Spiderman level is easier than being a Hulk. The fact that you have some time and a bit of money gives you a lot more options. The biggest advantage a Spiderman has is that he is used to having very little which makes one an effective scrounger. The ability to improvise and take advantage of any surprise opportunities that present themselves is not only useful when battling villains, but can be a Spiderman’s saving grace at Gen Con!
Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
The third level of resources, and the one that I currently inhabit, is that of Mr. Incredible from the awesome Pixar animated film, The Incredibles. By the time a gamer reaches this level he has achieved a certain level of financial comfort, and the days of subsisting on Ramean Noodles and Vodka are a thing of the past. While he in all likelihood still has a job that he hates, it does allow for a four-day pass, lodging, and food with little or no difficulties. Time can be a bit of an issue, as he may have also acquired a family at this point, but if he has done his job properly (As I have!!) he probably has a nerd wife and possibly kids that are well on their way down the geek path. The greatest danger that a Mr. Incredible faces is a lack of focus towards his interests, either due to having a family in tow or trying to squeeze in too much fun while on vacation from the salt mines! Some tell-tale signs that you are in the Mr. Incredible class are as follows:
#1 You have money and time to mostly do what you want, but may wind up tour guiding family and friends for a large part of the con.
#2 You can afford to do what you want, but may find yourself rushing from one event to the next desperately trying to fill every last second of Gen Con.
#3 You are not as young as you used to be and need to consider the diminishing returns of not sleeping.
#4 You have been known to occasionally become overzealous about the thing that you love and can be nasty with friends and family that you deem to be interfering with it.
The Mr. Incredible level is wonderful. If, like me, you have previously endured the Hulk and Spiderman levels of Gen Con attendance, you are well aware that Mr. Incredible problems are first world problems. Most of these issues can be solved by a little planning, drinking your coffee, and going to bed before 4a.m.
This is not only the highest level of resources, but also the second Bruce on the list! Having Bruce Wayne type resources is something that most of us can only dream about as we are more likely to actually become superheroes than billionaire playboys. Your life is like Gen Con everyday, filled with wonderful toys, fighting evil, and wonderful toys! In your downtime between protecting Gotham from your rogues gallery and assorted Justice League duties, the sky is literally the limit. If you have these kind of resources, money is no object and only the top notch Gen Con events are worthy of your attendance! How to tell if you have Bruce Wayne level resources:
#1 You crash through the roof of the convention center and rappel down from the Bat Wing in a cloud of smoke and whoop ass!
#2 Dining out at high-priced establishments is the norm rather than a special occasion and you have your leftovers wrapped in a foil bat.
#3 The finest hotels welcome you with smiles and hope that you don’t buy the place!
#4 With time and money no object, you are completely free to pursue your obsession to furthest extent possible!
Obviously, there are very few of us who find ourselves in the Batman/Bruce Wayne position, but I have actually met a few at Gen Con and I hope to one day rank among them. Despite feeling a certain degree of envy towards their unlimited resources, I still feel obligated to help them plan the most effective Gen Con experience possible. I am at least pleased, on some level, that someone is able to take advantage of all the most amazing things that Gen Con has to offer!
Hopefully this article has helped you to figure out roughly the level of resources that you will be able to allocate to Gen Con this year. I want you to consider this factor, along with your previously determined nerd type from part one, and be ready for part three where I will offer specific recommendations for each type of nerd at each level of resources. Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-website!