First time at GenCon - I've been to gaming cons in Australia before (which were much smaller), and a couple of big US cons (San Diego Comic Con, Anime Expo, Otakon). I've seen a good amount of general con advice, but is there any GenCon-specific stuff I should know?
assuming that you've got your hotel sorted out, ...
If you're planning on playing games at Gen Con, it'd be a good idea to look into how event tickets work, and how to maximise your chances of getting the events/games you want.
(on mobile, so typing is an issue, but wishlists are your friend, backup events are also your friend, and if you're still in Australia you'll probably be awake at some stupid time of the morning to submit that list the second you're able)
You've got a few months before it's an issue, so not an immediate thing.
Hope you enjoy Gen Con!
Most things will be the same. If you want to eat without a huge wait you must eat at non peak times (avoid the 6pm dinner rush after the dealer hall closes for instance). Ticketed events are your friend, no ridiculous queue only to find out you don't get into a panel. Some queues for specific items in the dealer hall can be an issue but depending on what you're shopping for this might not apply (avoid Fantasy Flight booth unless you'll not be allowed home without the item).
Stop by the Stink on Wednesday night as a free event "mixer" to get to know some people before things kick off. The Gen Con UN hosts a table where other Australians convince unwitting Americans to try vegemite...this alone is worth the trip to see the faces people make :)
Welcome to the tribe ajdynon!
The Stink is a mixer held on Wednesday night (6PM if I remember correctly) by different forum groups. It is held at the Crowne Plaza and draws a good sized crowd each year.
The hotel where it is held is 1 block from the convention center so after picking up your badge and tickets (will call line begins at 12PM Wednesday and has normally run 24 hours a day after that) you can easily walk there. If you do not get a ticket during the event registration (they do run out) you can still get in but will not be eligible for the free things that are normally available (free D6, etc.).
The Stink is a gathering of Gamers. Here's the event listing from last year: http://gencon.highprogrammer.com/gencon-2016.cgi/event/ZED1685620
The middle of Indiana in August will be hot and humid, sometimes resembling the surface of Venus. However, some rooms inside the ICC will have their life support systems set for the surface of Mars and be unpleasantly cold. I'd advise you to dress appropriately, but it's impossible!