Every year before Gen Con, I try to write a single post an idea of what Gen Con is all about. It's probably the toughest assignment I give myself all year, in a lot of ways. You're basically trying to sum up a mid-size city, a unique community, in just a few lines. It's not an easy task.
It's one of the reasons my dearest wish for you, friend gamer, is that you make it to Gen Con at least once in this lifetime. It's hard to explain the electric thrill I get when I realize that for another year, I've made it to Gen Con. How I feel that for another year, I've made it to a place that feels more like home than any event that lasts only a few days should.
Now, that probably sounds overwrought and sentimental, but I can't help it. It is remarkable each year to watch the transportation of my midwestern city into what I refer to as "Gamer Mecca". Gen Con is still the preeminent event in the hobby; the place where you can still meet legends, demo new games, find events going 24 hours of the day, and generally revel in your element to your heart's content.
Every year, at night, I like to walk through the convention halls, hotel lobbies, and interconnecting skytubes that make up the layout of Gen Con. There are little RPG sessions going on in the lobbies, by gamers who are unwilling to crash for the night without getting in one last game. There are gamers who, bereft of energy or excess funds, have found a quiet corner wherein to grab a few hours of sleep before doing it all again the next day. Gen Con quiets a little during the early morning hours, but it never really sleeps.
And the dealer hall! Whatever sort of transitions or struggles our hobby might endure, the dealer hall is amazing. So many dice vendors, small and large press publishing companies side by side, and people trying to push The Next Big Thing. All the katana and anime booths in the world can't change that.
There's an energy to Gen Con, one I start to feel at least a few weeks from the convention. It grows every day the convention gets closer, and crescendos when I walk through the door, not abating until I say farewell for another year on the last day. So for another year, bring on the LARPers, bring on the people telling me, unsolicited, about their Tiefling Nightspawn Hellsbane Paladin, bring on those whose showering habits are what could charitably described as "irregular". Because all that stuff is part of Gen Con, too, but Gen Con is more than the sum of its parts. We accept these things because throws the great parts of the con in even greater contrast, and appreciate more every special moment we have.
Gen Con is still a unique entity in our hobby, a sprawling, wonderful, hectic, pervading, sustained celebration of a hobby that for a few precious days, refuse to be "fringe". We take over. Any morning might find you in line for coffee behind your favorite game designer, every day the potential for finding your favorite dice set of all time, and every evening gamers roaming about, discussing the day's conquests and discoveries.
For around 360 days a year, we are singular outposts of gaming in our own little slice of the world, separated by distance and circumstance. We are office monkeys, academics, students, blue collar workers, or perhaps even someone who's been working on this crazy dream of a gaming company. But for 4 days, we have come into our own. This is our community, one made of dozens of micro-societies, groups, fads, fan followings, and interests. But it's home for all of us.