Just got home from Gen Con, Indy: The Best Four Days in Gaming. Probably one of the biggest gatherings of gamers in the world. This was my third trip to this magnificent convention and, despite some tragedy, I really enjoyed myself. If you haven't yet had the opportunity, it's a tremendous place to experience an awful lot of things and the city itself is very welcoming for this particular event.
There's tons of games going on. Organized games. Disorganized games. Pick-ups. Demos. Major events. On-going organized play. Unveilings and previews. New releases. Everything can and will happen at a con like this. For instance, I got to demo Palladium Games' newest Robotech miniatures wargame, which plays pretty fast and can the tide can turn at the drop of a hat, which I really like. Also, Slugfest games was demoing Red Dragon Inn 4, and if you haven't played RDI before I say to make it a point to do so.
There's also a ton of people to see. There's plenty of industry notables to see like Keven Siembieda, Sean Patrick Fannon, and Ken Hite. I nearly had a run-in with Wil Wheaton over at the Chessex booth. It's kind of surreal in a sense when you see some of these people in person and you stop and think "There's something missing from the last time I saw this person. Oh yeah! There's no YouTube logo or they aren't being followed by a list of credits or something." There are also plenty of people I've met over the last few visits who deserve a shout out as well, and I'll get to in a minute.
As I mentioned previously, the city itself is very open to the convention and there are plenty of eateries with deals and special events going on. Some of them offer discounts and themed menus, and in some cases convention related swag. Of special mention is a place my group hits regularly and with good reason is Scotty's Brewhouse. They go all out on this one with themed menus, customized dice, decorations, and they play movies on their collection of big screen tvs all from one manager's personal dvd collection. The service in this place is phenomenal and all of it from the heart. I can't properly explain how much that means to a little suburbanite like myself, but suffice to say I make a point to go there every day of the convention, no exceptions. So a special shout-out to IndyDav, Corey, Alex, Emily, Matt and the rest of the crew who bust their butts to bring the best experience they possibly can. You guys rock!
Like I said, we had a little tragedy this year in the form of a busted car window and a robbery. I'll spare the details, but I will say that the sympathy pouring from the convention is astounding to say the least. I wanted so bad to break down right there, but a number of warm-hearted people refused to let this bring things down. It's a funny thing, the gaming community. We, as a whole, just want to have fun and sometimes that includes making sure that the rest of us have a good time as well. Every gaming group is it's own little family in a way and the more gaming circles overlap the bigger that 'family' gets. The same goes for convention regulars and the people you meet and share experiences with. There's a certain amount of connection that gets built up. By the end of it all, we're all in this together and that means something, even if the only thing you have in common is that you play the same game or just like the sound of dice.
Without further ado, a long list of shout outs to people who helped turn this thing around in short order. Big props to Charles Walton, Mike Leonard, Kevin Siembieda and the rest of the Palladium crew. I always have a good time chatting with you guys. Jeff 'Freakin' Combos, Sechen Tower and Mel over at Exile Games. You guys are like family already. To the team at Crystal Caste, you guys went out of your way and that's a lot to us. To Zubby and Andrew Huerta, I owe you both, BIG time. To Jolly Blackburn, a small token to a stranger made a world of difference, and I wish you the best, always. To Dave Mattingly at Blackwyrm, I can't state clearly how much that meant to us. God Bless. To the regular crew, Ross, Mike, Nestor and Grady, there's a reason I consider you guys the friends that I do. And last but certainly not least, Rob and Nate, to whom without which I'd be a truly miserable sack of flesh.
Never underestimate the power of gamers in large numbers. For those about to game, I salute you.
Pay it forward and Stay Classy!