First time ever at a con
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Posted by squirrel763

Hey all this will be my first time at a con ever and I was hoping I could get some general rules/tips for the event, as well as like what to look for, what to do, etc... Not entirely sure what to expect. Any and all advice is appreciated!

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Posted by father bloodlust

Congrats on your first con!

My go-to piece of advice: don't overbook yourself. Set aside some time for just wandering around, checking things out, and shopping - there's an exhibit hall full of sellers (the big name companies and smaller, local stores) and a consignment store.
 

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Posted by squirrel763

I've actually booked nothing so far, my buddy and I were coming up for the Critical Role event Friday and we just kind of decided why not try out the whole con? So i'm learning that you want to book early based on how the events page looks currently haha.

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Posted by father bloodlust

Oh yeah, definitely make your wish list before the event registration begins. Even that's no guarantee, but it'll increase your chances.

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Posted by lordnlkon

There’s still a ton of events available and you can buy generics and drop into a lot of events.

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Posted by jtzell

1st year you may just want to roam the exhibit hall and do the demos. That's what we did our 1st year and yes you can take up a lot of your time just doing that. Also there are plenty of games being run by vendors and also just pickup games you can get involved with. 

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Posted by kd8esu

I said it in the Facebook Fans group, and I'll say it here:  Do something you would normally never do if you were at home.
Another thing, meet new people and make friends.  We're all in the experience, you might as well befriend new people and enjoy the experience together.

As for rules; basically, don't be an unpleasant member of society.  If you would think it is unacceptable, then don't do it.
Us geeks, nerds, and dweebs may be more accepted by people in 2018, but we are still on the fringe and we don't need bad apples making us all look bad.

Also, as stated above, don't overbook yourself.  This is your first Con, you're not use to it (then again, I don't know if we really ever get use to it).  Keep it light and don't stress that you didn't do everything:  There's too much going on to do everything in 4 days.

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Posted by faxboy66

'As for rules; basically, don't be an unpleasant member of society.'
Seconded.  99% of the people at Gen Con are really cool and friendly and approachable.  That 1% though...
Biggest tip: don't wear new shoes.  The con is huge and you'll walk many miles a day.  Bring broken-in shoes.  Stay hydrated, bring your own bottle and fill up at the water fountains.  Take breaks.  Try not to eat garbage food for every meal (my personal challenge). If it looks interesting, go check it out.  There are tons of free activities that are just as enjoyable as events.  Don't try to see the exhibit hall all at once, it's too big for a single pass.  Thank a volunteer, they're the reason we have a con to go to.

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Posted by cinnibar

Heh, the city loves us, and we try to make them not regret it.  That's easy enough.  

Now, big tip I haven't seen yet on this thread: understand you will not see EVERYTHING.  No one does, the convention is that large and so much going on.  Enjoy where you are at. :)

Plan to spend at least a day (or more) in the vendor hall exploring, shopping (remember, no lockers on site!) and demoing.  The place closes at 6pm so expect to spend time trying to get food at that point, You will then discover that the gaming is as non-stop as you want it to be.    Even the will-call booths are staffed 24 hours a day (yes, you CAN order a ticket online, walk over and pick it up.)

Be sure to eat.  Be sure to sleep, and do recommend a shower, despite waking up so soon to a morning game. :)  You're in for another exhausting day!

Oh, and your first time?  Don't fret about the local places like museums, zoos, the state fair, etc. that some suggest.  You enjoy what's around you.  If/When you come back, you'll know what sort of downtime outside the convention suits you, if any. :)

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Posted by father bloodlust cinnibar

cinnibar wrote:

Be sure to eat.  Be sure to sleep, and do recommend a shower, despite waking up so soon to a morning game. :)  You're in for another exhausting day!


As the first rule of a recent video tournament I attended read:

"Bathe for the love of god."

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Posted by sh4d0w0fw4r

As always the Forum has shown great insight!

I remember my first year in 2007 (Yes i am a relative newbie! lol) and all i did was walk the hall, demo games, and get caught up in the general spectacle that is GenCon. If you have never been to a con it will be a LOT to take in. My general advice is as follows:

- Sleep (Get significant rest as the general hype and excitement of the con will take a lot out of you)
- Eat (Enjoy some of the unique eating experiences around Indy and places that get into supporting GenCon with themed menus and displays)
- Relax (First time can be overwhelming, just go with the flow. There are times where you can just let the tide of people carry you and just enjoy all of the things to see)
- Prepare (Bring a small bag with light snacks and a container of water as you may go long periods without eating and barely notice.)

It of course goes without saying that personal hygiene is important as there are thousands of us in one location. We are all walking, moving, talking, and sweating so definitely show some courtesy to your fellow gamers and be clean.

As stated above, never wear new shoes as that will destroy your feet. I usually clock somewhere around 8+ miles of walking which is down significantly over the past several years( recently been working in booths running demos). So as a first time attendee you will most definitely cover more ground than that.

I hope you enjoy GenCon as your first con experience, and welcome to the masses!  

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Posted by trace_sl


  • Play what you don't play at home.
  • Schedule down time to see Gen Con and roam the dealer room - Gen Con has a lot to offer, enjoy it.  
  • Make friends, be friendly. 
  • Don't know, ask - Gen Con people for the most part are helpful people and will help out.  

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Posted by buffythecatslayer

Last year was our first year, and we definitely learned a lot.  

Come in with an idea of those things you want to try out; card games, board games, RPGs, etc.  As others suggested, try games you normally don't do at home.  There are still many events open, and there will probably be more added as the hosts see what has filled up.

Leave plenty of time for wandering the exhibit hall.  There are constant demos & games going on.  I got pulled into at least 2 different demos just when I sat down to take a break.  Many of the vendors will also have scheduled events in their booth that you can sign up for.

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Posted by jpederso


  • Take lots of pictures (but please ask permission to take a picture with/of a cosplayer).  Not just so you remember it all, but to convince more friends to come next year
  • Make a point to walk thru the convention hall later at night (after 10 PM).  It's quieter and has a much different vibe than the 10 AM rush to get into the vendor hall and get to games
  • Sign up for the  Free Playtest Hall.  It's fun, free, and a good way to give your input to new game designers
  • Ask questions.  Not just of the Gencon staff (who are always friendly and helpful) but of other gamers. They're almost always friendly.  Who knows?  You might get pulled into a game.  
  • Enjoy it all.  And get ready because once you do Gencon it becomes something you want to do every year 

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Posted by trace_sl

Oh, if you are in on Wednesday, take the time to get the lay of the land.  The convention center is HUGE and it is best to know where things are.  

Also on Wednesday at 6PM is The STINK, a gathering of gamers.  It is a ticketed event but free and those with tickets get in the door first but they do let those without in after.  Good place to meet people.  

Also, Gen Con stuff from Offworld Design, get it on-line before Gen Con as the lines for it there are long.  

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Posted by del_grande

One word of advice about the dealer's room: don't try to go in at 10 AM on Thursday (when it opens to the public for the first time) - the doorways are very crowded as people want to rush in to get things they think are in limited supply.  This especially applies this year, as X-Wing 2.0 will be available only at GenCon before its full release in September.

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Posted by traveller

First timer checklist


  • comfortable walking shoes (already broken in) with good insole 

    • spare shoes or at least a spare insole.

  • small personals bag

    • toothbrush/toothpaste or at least some good non-sugar breath mints  Thera-Breath
    • wet wipes/personal cleaning towel Shower Pill
    • eye rewetting drops
    • tissues
    • Deoderant

  • Water, Water, Water
  • a snack (trail mix, etc)
  • an expandable bag (something that compresses down small) See here on Amazon
  • Portable charger (already charged)
  • Notepad/pencil/pen
  • Optional - Personal details stamp (my other half uses one with name/address/phone/email) to make it easier to fill out sighups)  

As others have said, don't over schedule.  Plan for plenty of time to walk the dealer hall/con. 

Plan time to sleep.

Resist the urge to have just one or two big meals a day.  If you plan smaller meals every few hours you will not go into a food coma.

Underclothes, shirts and socks will *AT BEST* only last one day and sometimes not even that long.  Pack accordingly.

There are shipping facilities on-site (open on sunday) don't fear you have to try and pack everything into suitcase.

Be aware of your surroundings, if you have a big bag on, look before you make a sudden turn.

Most important of all, have fun.

Traveller

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Posted by roundtop

If you are a planner, then I suggest the following:


  • Print a copy of the GC Exhibitor's hall map (just released) and the list of vendors.  Take 2 highlighters and mark 1 color for must-visits, and the other for interested. Do this on the map.  This will become your treasure map. use it at the show, and if you see a booth you want to look closer at (but it is too busy), mark it on your treasure map.
  • Double any estimates for travel between areas of the convention, especially if it involves traversing the exhibitors hall floor.
  • Decide if you want to go to grocery store in downtown the first day, bring food with you, or eat out. Breakfast is often best done via bars/fruit cups/oatmeal.
  • Make a playlist. No, not a music one, but the games coming out that you want to play demo's of at con. (These will be in the exhibitors hall)

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Posted by stormforge

I do a lot of these tricks too, really helps over the years. I always print out an 11x17 map of the Dealer Room, carry one shot toothbrushes, gum, and water bottle with me. The enormity of the con can be overwhelming too, so as they stated above, don't overbook the events but try to take ones you would not play at home or are really interested in trying out, buy a handful of generics, its a great way to be spontaneous. The town is super friendly, everyone wants to be a part of the event so you shouldn't have to worry, but take nothing for granted and keep your head on a swivel anyways. It's your first year so just enjoy it all, I find I don't sleep much and stay up all night because even with 4 days, you just can't seem to get enough.

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Posted by buffythecatslayer

Check out this thread for a printer-friendly version of the Exhibit Hall map:

Printable Map

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