Gen Con 2005 Report

by Lori Ann Curley

Gen Con Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2:53 pm

I sit here in room 108 of the Indiana Convention Center (ICC), awaiting the end of my husband's last game three tables away. I'm tired; My feet hurt; I just went to Starbucks for a tall White Mocha Latte because even though the temperature outside is bordering on hot, the ICC is air conditioned to the point of being refrigerated. I just gave two blister Band-Aids to a woman wearing boots she bought yesterday. After the World's Greatest Husband (WGH) is done with his game, we'll bid our gaming group Infinite Imaginations, Inc. (I3) farewell, then we will drive the 5.5 hours home. Another Gen Con come and gone, and it was very, very good.

I've been attending Gen Con since 1990 (and that year is a sad story for another time), with the exception of 2003. The WGH and I live in Wisconsin, and Milwaukee was very convenient for us. Not only did Gen Con move to Indianapolis in 2003, but the WGH was battling heart disease and my mother was battling cancer. Mercifully both have won their medical battles, and we returned to Gen Con in 2004, realizing, as many did in 2003, that the move was good.

This year we reunited with I3. During the Milwaukee years, the WGH ran Drive-In Hero for I3, and I was best described as an I3 groupie, running smaller events on my own. We both decided to run games for I3 for the free badge and low-cost hotel room. Because I3 runs so many hours of events, Gen Con picked up the tab for all our badges and most of our hotel rooms. I3 divided up the cost for the uncovered rooms amongst the 30+ GMs in our group. The downside was we didn't receive our badges until Gen Con, and if we wanted to pre-register for anything, we had to buy a player's badge for which we would be reimbursed. Most of us, the WGH and I included, decided not to pre-register for anything.

The only other major bad of the weekend involved the two full-sized beds in our hotel room. The WGH and I are gamer-sized, i.e. he's a 2X and I'm a 3X. We own a king-sized bed at home for a reason. We also had an issue with snoring, but that's an even longer story than the sad story of my first Gen Con.

Other than these minor negatives, the weekend went quite well. I'd have to say that this was probably the best run, the best organized Gen Con I ever attended. Peter Adkison believes in customer service and delivering a quality product, as is evidenced by the fact that he personally attends the feedback session at the end of every Gen Con.

Wednesday evening when we checked into the Crowne Plaza, I saw Monte Cook, and called him "one of my two favorite people at Gen Con." He didn't understand, but accepted my offer to buy him a drink sometime during the convention.

Dinner at the Rathskeller has become our Wednesday night tradition because it requires a cab ride from the ICC. I'm of Irish-German heritage and the German food at the Rathskeller reminds me of my grandmother's cooking. The Rathskeller has so many beers to choose from that I always ask the waitress what she recommends. She asked me, "Do you like light or dark beer?"

When I answered, "Yes", the waitress recommended the Seasonal Six Sampler, ranging from Guinness to a light apple cider.

We received our badges and marching orders at the I3 meeting later that night. Then off to try sleeping on the full-sized bed.

My first event on Thursday morning, the Dork Tower Board Game, ran in the Board Game Headquarters (BG HQ). Lee and the other hall captains color-coded the tables and provided me and my players with ample space for my gameboards. Although I made arrangements to have prizes for all my games, my MIB (Men in Black, convention volunteers for Steve Jackson Games) contact did not deliver the needed prizes until Friday. That's okay; my winners on Thursday were just there for a good time, which the Dork Tower Board Game provided, and weren't too concerned about the prizes. I was able to connect with one winner and give him his prize on Friday. The other winner's prize will be mailed to him next weekend.

The WGH and I ate lunch together, then he went to take a nap (the snoring issue hit him worse; in other words, he's not a snorer). I went to the Exhibit Hall to shmooze and pass out advertising for my editing and indexing business. One game publisher on finding out I like to write indexes, a task he abhors, called me a "crazy (rhymes with rich)" in a joking manner. I also picked up some prize support from Out of the Box, whose games I was running. It was nice to hear, "Just pick any four" as he pointed to the display of all the games the company had to offer.

After joining the WGH for a nap and then dinner at The Claddagh Irish Pub (more Guinness), we went to the street party, hoping for some free swag. Unfortunately, only food was to be had. The popcorn was good, but neither the WGH nor I were in the mood for fried Snickers bars, so we told the young boy we saw in the hotel lobby on his way to the party that he could have ours.

Then the WGH and I went to our hotel's hot tub and pool. I took my glasses off, but I could still compliment the lovely blond who joined us whose swimsuit, like mine, had a skirt attached to it. She thanked me for the compliment, and upon hearing her voice, I squinted hard to confirm my suspicions. "Cristi?" I asked.

"Yes, Lori, right?"

"Yes!" I said as Cristi's husband, Nodwick and PS238 artist Aaron Williams, joined us. We spent the rest of the evening soaking and talking and having the kind of surreal time one can only experience at Gen Con.

Friday morning, I found the hall captains at the Trading Game Headquarters (TCG HQ) to be just as helpful as those in the BG HQ. My Chez What? game was in a room all to myself for the first hour, and my players had fun. The MIB delivered the other prize support offered, so I was able to give the winner a prize as well as a fun time.

Friday afternoon's Apples to Apples game was in the same room that I was now sharing with a few others, but I still had ample space to accommodate the nine players I had. The first winner went home with her own copy of Apples to Apples, then the players decided to play more just for the fun of it. One young man there with his dad was hyper-intelligent and funny. The dad even gave me a tip as he left!

Friday night was the annual Cthulhu Rally, and Chaosium was celebrating 30 years in the games industry. Charlie Krank always throws a great party, and this year's theme was a beach party. The Duct Tape Girl was having way too much fun with the inflatable banana during the limbo contest.

Saturday morning saw the Igor Bars contest, and I must admit that the moment I saw the bars with M&Ms on the top making a picture of Igor himself, I knew the contest's winner. The woman who decorated her Igor Bars with steel-grey frosting, Gummy Worms, and a candy dead rat was a very close second.

I connected with both Monte and Sue Cook, and the latter explained to the former that they’re my "best customers" (read: my only customers so far). This being Saturday, it was far too late to set a time for that drink, so I bought Sue a bottle of soda instead. That works.

That afternoon I played my absolutely favorite game ever: Blink. I love a game that I can teach and play in less than a minute. Even Cheapass games aren't that fast. I had time to return to the Exhibit Hall to do some shopping. I purchased the Riddle Books that I did not own, as well as earning the "Riddle Master" ribbon for my badge.

After a short nap in my hotel room, where I was the only person and thus the only snorer, I went to see the Dead Gentlemen host an RPG including some industry celebrities: Aaron Williams, Monte Cook, and a third whose name I don't recall. I took a picture of Cook and Williams together because apparently they look so similar, some think they are the same person (uh, one's a writer; the other's an artist). I also have a couple of funny pictures of me with the Dead Gentlemen. These guys are a hilarious, fun-loving, group of gamers, just like anyone else at Gen Con. Cristi Williams also told me that Magnificent Egos, in the booth next to theirs, had only four Nodwick minis left.

Because the Colts unwisely scheduled a preseason game during Gen Con again, the WGH and I had quite a time finding a restaurant for dinner. Last year I wrote the Commissioner of the NFL advising him to not schedule a game in the RCA Dome during Gen Con. Apparently I need to send the letter to the Colts organization instead. I hope the fact that I'm a shareholder in the Green Bay Packers, and thus know the needs of football fans attending a game, will have a little weight with the team's scheduler.

Then the WGH and I attended a screening of "The Making of Dorkness Rising" by the Dead Gentlemen. Too funny. I can't wait for this film's release sometime next year. Look for cameos by Monte Cook and other RPG industry personnel.

The TCG HQ hall captain was not as chipper on Sunday morning as he had been earlier in the weekend, but he was still helpful and provided ample space for my finale game. The one person who came won the last prize I had to offer. Then I rushed to the Exhibit Hall. The Magnificent Egos booth had two Nodwick minis left, and I purchased both of them (one for me and one for eBay; hey, they're signed by Aaron Williams himself!). I finally walked through the Art Exhibit and bought the WGH a print of Stewie from "Family Guy" saying, "Obey me or perish!"

Well, the WGH's game is done, and we're heading out. He gave me a couple of t-shirts for my birthday later in the month. One is the "Clerics" shirt and signed by Aaron, the other is a cute cat wearing reading glasses. We miss our cats terribly, and I'm glad to be going home.

Until next year; Thanks, Peter, for a really good time.

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