I attended the tabletop gaming convention Gen Con for the first time last weekend and the self-proclaimed “Best 4 Days In Gaming” definitely lived up to that reputation. Gen Con is a truly special experience, unlike any other con I have ever been to simply because the main point of it is to play games.
Sure there are some panels and a fantastic vendor hall but the core of what makes it special is being able to play all varieties of games with many different types of people. I played just about every type of game under the sun and met some amazing people. There is always something you can play and people who are willing to play with you.
My experience at Gen Con was likely very different from many other people, but that is the beauty of it! If you like Pokemon there is a booth where you can play Pokemon all weekend, If you like Role Playing games you can find a campaign to jump into, if you want to compete in a tournament you can do that or you can just casually play with your friends. There was even an area dedicated to making card houses called Cardhalla! With so many things to do, you could really tailor your Gen Con experience to fit your specific interests.
On the first day, we mostly walked around the Vendor hall and I was blown away by the variety of games that people were showing off. Sure you had your popular games like Magic The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons and Settlers Of Catan, but there were also smaller more niche titles. For example, we came across an RPG system called The Dark Eye that I had never heard of before. If you are at all familiar with Role Playing Games you’ll know that Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder pretty much dominate the market. While I love those games it is always nice to see somebody bring something new to the table.
This system is innovative and fun but the thing I found the most interesting about it is that it has an ever-expanding and modifying canon that the players actually influence. There are conventions held every year and what happens there actually impacts the official canon. Players can even send in short stories and sometimes those can be added to the canon as well. One of the best things about Gen Con was discovering these games that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise and I’m glad I went for that reason alone
I was also reminded of the fantastic community around these games, nearly everyone I encountered was incredibly nice and welcoming. If you have an interest in tabletop games I would highly recommend going to Gen Con, even if it’s just by yourself. You don’t have to look that hard to find people to play with. I played with people I had never met before, who were so willing to bring me into their games and we had a great time! Whether I was playing with friends or random strangers Gen Con was some of the most fun I have ever had and I will never forget it!