Friday, December 15, 2017

Gen Con celebrates its 50th anniversary with over 15 thousand events that we can enjoy. What will you pick?

On Sunday, May 14 2017, Gen Con released its schedule of events at this year’s Gen Con. To say it’s a lot of events would be an enormous understatement. Here is an idea of just how many events there are. On Thursday at 9 am there are over 200 events scheduled. That is 200 events scheduled in a one hour block. Now, add the rest of the con and you have about 96 hours of events. That right, starting Thursday at 8 am there are events scheduled around the clock till Sunday at 3 pm. There are also events scheduled on Wednesday but it’s only from 10 am till 11 pm. So how does one select what events to attend without throwing your hands up and deciding to just play demos in the exhibition hall the whole weekend? (Which is something you could do also.)

Well, first let’s start by deciding what it is you NEED to do, what you WANT to do, and what you MIGHT do. What you NEED to do would be events that only happen during Gen Con. But this is not to be mistaken with events that YOU need to do. Some of the need to do event you might not want to do. For me, my NEED to do list would be any of the LARPs for the Cthulhu, Doctor Who, or Star Wars systems.

But what is LARPing? Well, here is the short version. LARP stand for Live Action Role Playing. So imagine instead of paper, pencils, miniatures and dice. You, yourself, are the miniature. You do have a paper explaining who you are and what goals you are trying to achieve.  And there is an area that has been set aside for you to explore. Then there are GM’s (game masters) that over see what people are doing and make ruling on attacks and things discovered or not. It does require quite a bit of imagination. It’s quite possible they will give you a broom and tell you it a bus. Yes, it silly but it’s a lot of fun.

Now going back to the previous paragraph. The last time I attended, I was able to registered for the Cthulhu and Doctor Who LARP. I hope to do those again this year. There will also be a Star Wars, Marvel and Batman LARP. But in the Batman LARP you can’t play Batman. (Boo.) You will have to be one of the villains trying to outsmart Batman. In the Marvel LARP you will be working with Professor X to bring down Magneto. And in the Star Wars LARP you will be playing a light side character, or grey if you play a smuggler or thief. They all sound exciting to play. Just so you know, if you want to create your character beforehand you can. Just let the organizers know what you want to be playing.

Another of the NEED events would be the workshops, seminars, and events they call; “Entertainment Events,” “Isle of Misfit Events,” “Kids Activities,” “Spouse Activities,” “Trade Day Event,” and “True Dungeon Adventures.” As you can see there are special events for kids and spouses that would rather not play games. Trade Days are mainly for the media and True Dungeon Adventures are something else entirely. I have never done a True Dungeon Adventures (I never seem to have time. Lots of events to do, remember.) But what I have been told, you go through a maze either doing mental puzzles or physical puzzles. You choose which type of maze you want to do beforehand. Then you can receive tokens which you can redeem for prizes. Don’t forget, these are NEED events. Meaning you can only do them at Gen Con, not that YOU need to do them.

Now let’s talk about WANT events. These are more personal. They are events that YOU want to do. If you want to spend the whole weekend playing Magic: The Gathering, even though you can play it at any game store across the globe, you can do that. Another thing could be playing the latest and greatest in board games, card games and role playing games. Or maybe you might want to get in a game of ShadowRun, Pathfinder, or Dungeons and Dragons. Battletech, Robotech, and Warmachine are also available to play for beginners and veterans of these games. A piece of advice I would pass on to you, “play games you don’t normally play.” One thing that surprised me was how many electronic games there are. Of course “electronic games” is another way of saying “video games.”

Before we get to the MIGHT events, let me say a few things. First the list of events is released then two weeks later people are allowed to register for these events. Seems simple enough. But now I will throw some math at you. There are over 15 thousand events over the four day period and last year 200 thousand people attended Gen Con. Given that each person goes to one event and only one event, that leaves over 18 thousand people with no events they can attend. So the competition to get into the events YOU want can be rather fierce. Which is where the MIGHT games come in. These are games you would play if everything else is booked. Although, one year I made my list of NEED, WANT, and MIGHT games and within an hour all my games were booked. So, I settle for whatever was available.

There is some good news, kind of. When the events are opened for registration there will still be about 80 days left until the start of the Gen Con. That means some people could have things come up and they can no longer attend their scheduled event. In that case, you could have another chance at getting that event you want. So check back to the events page frequently to see if a slot has opened up. Also, if we lived in a perfect world people wouldn’t oversleep or miss anything scheduled. Yet we don’t, so people do. The generic ticket is an option available for these cases. If you really want to get into the game of Legendary Encounters Firefly (great game by the way) show up to the table five minutes early and see who shows up. Some tables hold a seat for five minutes past the start time and then they start taking generic tickets. Now you can play Legendary Encounters Firefly (and you should) without having been registered. But this is not a guarantee as most people show up. Additionally, if a person shows up six minutes late they could ask you to please give up your seat if you paid with a generic ticket. Although, you are allowed to watch any game.

One thing I did forget to mention was cost. Yes, a lot of these events cost money to attend. Also, if you miss the event it’s like missing a movie. If, on the other hand, you contact Gen Con and inform them you cannot attend your scheduled event then they will be happy to refund your money. Prices can range from as cheap as two dollars to as much as one hundred dollars, though the average price stays under thirty dollars. Remember the first person that pays is the first person that plays.

Since there is so many people wanting to go to so few events (not really few but when you look at the math …) what is a good way to get what you want? Ask someone that plays the lottery or goes to casinos how they win. That is pretty much what you are doing. You are gambling on the fact that you can play Call of Cthulhu Thursday at 3 pm. Yet, you cannot be deterred by the math. You must have faith that you can and WILL play Call of Cthulhu Thursday at 3 pm. Even if you don’t get it on the website there is a possibility someone might not show up.



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