It's interesting, because I started going to Gen Con with a group of friends back in the 80's. As time went by and they grew up and I didn't, they stopped attending one by one until I was alone. I hated it. I guess I wasn't very good back then at talking to strangers. I never felt so alone as the one year I was completely solo.
I almost quit coming. But I enjoyed the Nascrag Tournament a lot, and I'd started to get to know the people who ran it. I found myself a spot on a regular team, and bam, I had 5 friends I'd see every year.
Now I'm one of the people who runs Nascrag. I've got 25-30 friends I can count on seeing, and dozens more regular players that I've gotten to know over the years. Nascrag saved Gen Con for me. And some of these people I see once a year are among my closest friends.
Funny thing for me is, I am leave my house solo, but arrive in Indy to many friends I have made from around the world...and to my fiance (all of whom I met on the old forums). I don't have many people I would call friends living locally, but I have many I call friends who I get to see at Gen Con. Like Nascragman said - those I see once a year are among my closest friends.
It is obviously nice to be able to choose if you want to go with a group or by yourself, but yes, clearly there are many good things about being by yourself at a convention (just like in many situations!).
I ended up by myself on Thursday-Friday of Gen-Con ... 2006? Yes, 2006, as most of my usual group had inescapable life situations keep them from going, and others could only make it for Saturday-Sunday. So I actually drove to Indianapolis and back two days in a row from Illinois, and had a completely different experience that year than I am ever likely to have again--and it was definitely enjoyable in an entirely different way. It felt more like I was a tourist in a mysterious but wonderful country, as nobody wanted me to do anything with them or expected me to eat at their favorite place or go to any certain place at any certain time. Setting your own pace is an underrated thing, to be sure.
Growing up in South Africa, I got only the occasional Dragon Magazine and always envied you guys all the resources, magazines and game stores - not to mention conventions - I saw that last's years 50th Gencon was on my birthday and I decided life was too short - so here I come! It will take me NINE flights to get to gencon and back (Durban - Joburg-London-NYC-Indianapolis/Ind-CHicago-NYC-London-JHB-Durban) but I am excited and a bit intimidated as well! So I look forward to meeting some solo visitors as well! I will be the guy with the "say howzit, I'm from ZA!" T-shirt!
Wow, that's impressive, ant. Welcome to Gen Con!
Alec Usticke, Fans of Gen Con Facebook Group
Right on, Ant! Glad you are going to make the trip! You're going to love it!
Going solo has pros and cons, like anything else.
But here are a few pros:
No commitments you would rather not do; no restaurant you just really don't like, no game you'd rather not play; no drunk friend keeping you out late or making your sleeping self get up early.
You set your own schedule, and should you choose to return a ticket, there won't be any sad faces making you feel guilty. You can try new things your friends may otherwise not have tried. I HEARTILY recommend the playtester thing or games on demand.
Whoever said it was somewhat like being a tourist was right. And what a place to tour! You can stay in the exhibit hall without worrying about keeping up with your group, or falling behind or moving ahead. You can stay however long you want.
Most of all on the pro side is that you'll meet people you might otherwise not have had time for. Share a table at meals. Get emails, numbers of folks you liked at games.
Whatever you do, don't just stay in your room because you don't have someone making you go to a game. Schedule things. Do them. Make those nine flights worth it!
The best pro of single/solo life: Eat at the bar. Whenever I walk into a restaurant and see folks waiting for an hour I still get immediate service by eating at the bar. I miss Champions directly across the street from the Convention Center as I could be in and out in under an hour every time.
Same for me I will be solo it will be my second GC 16 hr of road to go came from Montreal
It's my first time coming to GenCon and I'm going to solo too! At first I hesitated, thinking it might be a bit intimidating but then thought I moved to Chicago a year ago and it would be crazy not to go being so close and I've been wanting to go for a long time! After I got my badge I realized I also have an acquaintance in town who can host me, and it turns out I didn't even know she's also a role player who can't go to GC this year so she's really happy I'll be telling her what's going on during the con.
I'm scheduling a few things to have plans, noting other things that look interesting. Totally with you on bar stools in general, anytime or anywhere I have a drink or food by myself.
I've just applied to GM some 7th Sea, would be quite fun!