Gen Con 2019: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
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Posted by traveller thomas28202

thomas28202 wrote:
The Good: Almost everything.  It was my first GenCon since the 1980s (stupid career) and I had a really good experience.  I have some anxiety issues which were concerning, but every person I met was wonderful. 
Having to find an urgent care wasn't great, but there was one fairly close that opened 7am on Sunday.  (Inflamed achilles tendon-which I already knew). Hobbling around with a boot wasn't ideal, but didn't stop me from having a great time.
The Bad: A few things I could nitpick but honestly, most of the problems were better than I was expecting. 
Will-Call line: I signed up for a couple events that were added after the packets were mailed out.  The will-call wasn't just an inconvenience or an oversight.  It was a management decision to not fix a known problem.  Unacceptable.

I'm curious by what you mean when you say its a management decision not to fix a known problem.  
 

Posted by thomas28202 traveller

traveller wrote:
thomas28202 wrote:
The Good: Almost everything.  It was my first GenCon since the 1980s (stupid career) and I had a really good experience.  I have some anxiety issues which were concerning, but every person I met was wonderful. 
Having to find an urgent care wasn't great, but there was one fairly close that opened 7am on Sunday.  (Inflamed achilles tendon-which I already knew). Hobbling around with a boot wasn't ideal, but didn't stop me from having a great time.
The Bad: A few things I could nitpick but honestly, most of the problems were better than I was expecting. 
Will-Call line: I signed up for a couple events that were added after the packets were mailed out.  The will-call wasn't just an inconvenience or an oversight.  It was a management decision to not fix a known problem.  Unacceptable.

I'm curious by what you mean when you say its a management decision not to fix a known problem.  
 
GenCon knew how many people would be trying to go through this line and decided not to allocate adequate staff.  Attendees buying badges and tickets are a primary revenue source, and they chose to underserve their customers. 

Posted by squirecam thomas28202

thomas28202 wrote:
traveller wrote:
thomas28202 wrote:
The Good: Almost everything.  It was my first GenCon since the 1980s (stupid career) and I had a really good experience.  I have some anxiety issues which were concerning, but every person I met was wonderful. 
Having to find an urgent care wasn't great, but there was one fairly close that opened 7am on Sunday.  (Inflamed achilles tendon-which I already knew). Hobbling around with a boot wasn't ideal, but didn't stop me from having a great time.
The Bad: A few things I could nitpick but honestly, most of the problems were better than I was expecting. 
Will-Call line: I signed up for a couple events that were added after the packets were mailed out.  The will-call wasn't just an inconvenience or an oversight.  It was a management decision to not fix a known problem.  Unacceptable.

I'm curious by what you mean when you say its a management decision not to fix a known problem.  
GenCon knew how many people would be trying to go through this line and decided not to allocate adequate staff.  Attendees buying badges and tickets are a primary revenue source, and they chose to underserve their customers. 
You know that you are going to wait an hour or more in a line that long, right?

If you expect Gencon to deliver 20 minute will call lines......you are dreaming. 

Posted by traveller thomas28202

thomas28202 wrote:
traveller wrote:
thomas28202 wrote:
The Good: Almost everything.  It was my first GenCon since the 1980s (stupid career) and I had a really good experience.  I have some anxiety issues which were concerning, but every person I met was wonderful. 
Having to find an urgent care wasn't great, but there was one fairly close that opened 7am on Sunday.  (Inflamed achilles tendon-which I already knew). Hobbling around with a boot wasn't ideal, but didn't stop me from having a great time.
The Bad: A few things I could nitpick but honestly, most of the problems were better than I was expecting. 
Will-Call line: I signed up for a couple events that were added after the packets were mailed out.  The will-call wasn't just an inconvenience or an oversight.  It was a management decision to not fix a known problem.  Unacceptable.

I'm curious by what you mean when you say its a management decision not to fix a known problem.  
GenCon knew how many people would be trying to go through this line and decided not to allocate adequate staff.  Attendees buying badges and tickets are a primary revenue source, and they chose to underserve their customers. 
actually, they are working to address this issue by moving to an electronic ticket option.  They are also doing it in such a way as to make sure the system does not crash.   

Personally, I would prefer a line over the entire system stopping (i remember when they had their first computer system, that was a nightmare. 
 

Posted by lehane

When did you try to go through the will call line? 

Not sure about your travel arrangements but my group arrives on Wednesday afternoon and while the will call line does take a little time there is plenty of time and staffing at that point that the lines moves fairly good. 

Two of the best decisions our group has made has been to start the drive at 4am Wednesday morning (Memphis, TN to Indy) and wait to leave on Monday morning. 

Having the entire afternoon to do will call/eat dinner/catch a movie or something on Wednesday afternoon and the play the new games bought during Gencon Sunday evening has made the entire convention that much better. 

Posted by brotherbock squirecam

squirecam wrote:You know that you are going to wait an hour or more in a line that long, right?If you expect Gencon to deliver 20 minute will call lines......you are dreaming. 

Find a place where 50k+ people are trying to do the same thing, and where there aren't long lines. Even been to a Disney property? Nightmares by comparison. Lines are gonna line.

Posted by nascragman

I'm just curious.  Was the line always that long?  or was it just one particular time window that was crazy?
 

Posted by traveller nascragman

nascragman wrote:
I'm just curious.  Was the line always that long?  or was it just one particular time window that was crazy?
 

it ebbed and flowed.  As one would expect, Wednesday afternoon/evening, mornings in general.  There was almost always a line, but they are good at getting people through the line.  But as its been pointed out, there is only so fast you can go to process people.

Posted by matthias9 brotherbock

brotherbock wrote:
 

Find a place where 50k+ people are trying to do the same thing, and where there aren't long lines. Even been to a Disney property? Nightmares by comparison. Lines are gonna line.

Yeah, this right here.  People probably had to wait longer to be seated at Buffalo Wild Wings.

"Management decision not to fix a known problem"?  Seriously?  First of all, you frame it as needing more people to work.  At peak times, they have so many people in there, I think it would actually slow it down to try to jam more people into that space.  Moreover, they have given you many options:

1)  Avoid Will Call entirely by having your stuff mailed to you
2)  Will Call is open 24 hours; did you choose to come at peak time?  Come the Wednesday at 10pm.  Thursday at 3am, whatever.  I find Wednesday afternoon is about a 20 minute wait during which time I talk about games with the people in line with me. 
3)  Most of all, have realistic expectations.  As the above people points out, there are 50-70,000 people trying to do the same thing as you are.

Not only do I not see a problem here, I am planning to do Will Call again next year.  I'll probably come Wednesday afternoon and wait about 20 minutes.  No biggie.  If, on the other hand, your plan is to hit the line at 7:30am Thursday on your way to an 8am event, then you're going to be in bad shape.  If you're arriving Thursday am, maybe considering having your packet mailed?

Posted by ryric

The trick to Will Call is to do it next year. See, this year the line was bad, so more people will have their badges mailed in 2020 to avoid the bad line, and Gen Con will take steps to alleviate the wait, and the line won't be as bad. Then, those people will see the short line in 2020, decide it's not worth paying extra for shipping, and choose Will Call in 2021 and the line will be awful again. It really does seem to flip flop from year to year. What you want to do is get out of phase with the cycle and your experience will be more pleasant. 

Posted by nascragman ryric

ryric wrote:
The trick to Will Call is to do it next year. See, this year the line was bad, so more people will have their badges mailed in 2020 to avoid the bad line, and Gen Con will take steps to alleviate the wait, and the line won't be as bad. Then, those people will see the short line in 2020, decide it's not worth paying extra for shipping, and choose Will Call in 2021 and the line will be awful again. It really does seem to flip flop from year to year. What you want to do is get out of phase with the cycle and your experience will be more pleasant. 

Brilliant!

Posted by lehane

Also Gencon did raffle off 4 day passes to next year's Gencon for those who had their stuff mailed to them. So they are trying to get people to use the mail system. 

That said our group has twice had people forget their badges as home and with the event selling out we have had to ship the badge overnight last time. Expensive and you miss your early Thursday events. It became better to just plan on using an hour or so Wednesday to use Will Call. 

Posted by repto

This was our 21st Gen Con! Makes me feel old. Hmm. Maybe I am old.

The Good:  
•Arriving early.  This year we couldn't pull off a Tuesday arrival, but we did get there on Wednesday. It is a game-changer (hehe) to arrive fresh and happy at the Dealer's Hall on Thursday rather than bedraggled and befuddled due to check-in, parking, unpacking.  The best option for us was to arrive on MONDAY one time.  We got to sight-see Indy, check out the fun Fountain square area, go bead shopping at Heirloom Classics (a fabulous place on Prospect St. Even the hubby enjoys this place!!!), go to the Eiteljorg Museum, go biking along the river and canal, do the zoo, etc.  
•Seeing old friends who only come together once a year--at GenCon.
•Playing lots of interesting games, many of which were new to us.
•Costuming/Cosplaying.  We've done this for about 12 years now and I'm continually amazed at how much fun we are *still* having with it. Every year we choose a theme for each day of the Con.  This year we did Fantasy, Steampunk, Fox Creatures and 'Buffet' (i.e. each family member chose their favorite theme... the daughters did Sailor Moon inspired lolita outfits (ahem, that is Japanese lolita street fashion), I did a medieval theme and the hubby went as The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Seriously, if you haven't considered doing a costume for at least one day, try it!  We have such amazing interactions with the Indy community as a result, both inside and outside of Gen Con proper.  
•Dinner at the Rathskeller.  This is a historic building that has been doing German food and good beer for over a century.  I'm not a super big german food fan, but I love going to this place for their jaeger schnitzel. Since we meet up with a ton of my dh's former army friends from Germany, this is a required stop for us.
•The incredible patience, friendliness and kindness of Gamers.  We do a ton of conventions each year for fun. Mostly for anime, but also comic cons, J-fashion as wella as some craft stuff.  Gen Con has--hand's down--the happiest, most polite and most outgoing population.  It makes sense when you think about it... gamers LIKE to spend time with others.  They are rule abiders.  They like to PLAY.  And Gen Con is ALL about playing games, so it's bound to be a happy place, right?
•Carpeted aisles. Trust me, it makes a difference. Both for sound and on your feet.
•Training Grounds.  Outstanding place to bring little ones.  This year they went back to the books and held it in a large ballroom outside of the main hall.  It was dark, much quieter, and MUCH more appealing to parents and kids.  The last two years it has been in Lucas Oil (HORRIBLE for this purpose) and before that, it was held inside the Dealer's Hall for several years (pretty damn bad).  We had guys barging through a tented off area *clearly* marked "For Nursing Mothers" because they didn't want to walk an extra 20 feet to exit the guy's bathroom.  Either that or they were just plain creepy. WTH?  It was a relief to have it in a quiet, limited access location that was still right near a bathroom. 
•The weather was pretty freaking lovely this year... first time in a while that the humidity wasn't killer.
•Recycling efforts.  YAY!
•Water stations.
•Biking.  We love bringing our bikes to Indy, but have also used the Pacers Bike Share (note: this is not a bike rental service; make sure you understand the rules of use and station-surf if you are going on a longer ride).
•Food Trucks and Beer.  Love the special beer releases from SunKing.  Love the variety of food trucks, but second the wish that there were more of 'em.
•Big Ten parking worked out well for us.  We were in an outer lot which cost $70 for the weekend and gave us 24 hr shuttle buses to the Con and back.
 

The Bad:
•The hall should go back to more predictable aisles.  It was challenging to navigate and to remember where certain booths were located.  I agree with earlier posters that adding an additional 2 or 3 feet per aisle could make a big difference.
•Can we please just accept and make it the best FIVE days of Gaming?  People come from all over the world for this event.  I would love to have an extra day with access to the dealer's hall, events, LARPs etc.
•More seating options on Georgia Street and inside the Con.
•Some better way to advertise alternative tracks.  I never got to the puppetry strand or the Anime strand. Nor the author's stuff.  We never got a program book, so that might be part of the problem, but I didn't find it particularly easy to navigate the app.  I always got popped to Wed. evening rather than the present time/place.  I think it would be nice if GenCon had some large screens with a scroll giving info on events going on at any given hour.
•I'm getting tired of always earning a crappy lottery slot and ending up housing in outer Bufu, Egypt. Despite buying 5 adult tickets, we still end up in the hinterlands. I truly understand that it's a lottery--and that it is the fairest option.  I just wish there were more hotel offerings in downtown Indy. We've been out past the airport 2x (which was a pisser this year with I-70 being under construction), we've been up in Carmel which is a bear of a drive late at night and we did and an Air BnB up past Butler University that also involved a sketchy commute at 2 am in the morning. We were able to upgrade four years ago, to the Candlewood Suites in the Medical District which was okay. We rode our bikes the 2.5 miles there and back each day... in full costume, I might add! We have multiple friends who've been doing GenCon for *years* and who drop a lot of money at the con who are seriously considering not going anymore because of the housing woes.

The Ugly:
•Georgia Street has removable shade screens along its entire length.  Why oh why were they never pulled to provide more shade?  It was obscenely bright and hot at lunchtime on Thursday and Friday, yet management never pulled them.  ::::sigh::::
•Scooter shenanigans. People--these should NOT be ridden on sidewalks.  Use the bike lanes or the street.  Also, show some common sense when parking them. Don't block sidewalks, doorways or bike paths...  As a sidebar, scooters can be very dangerous.  They have a very high injury rate, esp. when compared to bikes. If you ride skateboards, you should be fine, but otherwise, please ride slowly and be aware that cracks in the sidewalk, gaps or potholes can be a *serious* hazard when using small wheels (And please know that I am a kick scooter enthusiast who supports scooter use, just with common sense).

Things that never crossed my radar screen:
•Getting whomped by giant backpacks.  I saw them in spades but never was impacted by them.
•Con funk. I've suffered from smelly bodies at other cons, but not GenCon.

I wish:
•That I had more time at GenCon
•That I was able to LARP (but I never seem to have enough time... see above)
•That I could easily buy tix for DnD sessions with new DMs (because I've been playing the game for 25 years with the same DM and I need a change! LOL)... but again, see above
•That I had more money so I could buy all the cool stuff I see at the Con. As it is, we drop 6K each year on this thing...and that's with us *driving* to the Con.
•I wish there was more variety of non-gaming stuff at the Con.  It seems like there has been a diminishment of fun stuff that is not completely relevant to gaming.  In the past, there have been several costuming booths, many places with paint and brushes and mini-figs, places with books, places with quirky stuff.  

Posted by mikeboozer ryric

ryric wrote:
The trick to Will Call is to do it next year. See, this year the line was bad, so more people will have their badges mailed in 2020 to avoid the bad line, and Gen Con will take steps to alleviate the wait, and the line won't be as bad. Then, those people will see the short line in 2020, decide it's not worth paying extra for shipping, and choose Will Call in 2021 and the line will be awful again. It really does seem to flip flop from year to year. What you want to do is get out of phase with the cycle and your experience will be more pleasant. 

The trick (As we see it) is to not do Will Call and have it mailed to you instead. Or if you do come at very odd hours. These are our suggestions.
Eventually we will get to the pint where our tickets are all electronic so this will have a very positive impact on Will Call lines.

Mike Boozer
Customer Service & Event Team Manager
Gen Con LLC

Posted by hahnarama

Just a thought, it's a crazy one, but hear me out. You raise all 2020 badge prices by $10 mail them all via USPS and NOT offer Will Call as an option going forward.

Posted by mhayward1978 hahnarama

hahnarama wrote:
Just a thought, it's a crazy one, but hear me out. You raise all 2020 badge prices by $10 mail them all via USPS and NOT offer Will Call as an option going forward.

Doesn't work:

1. Would prevent any advanced badge or event sales for paper ticketed events post the mailing deadline, which is weeks before the con.

2. Lots of customers don't want it - see comments in the forums every year about people who don't want to risk losing stuff in the mail.

3. International shipping is expensive and more prone to getting lost - plenty of international attendees.

 

Posted by mikeboozer mhayward1978

mhayward1978 wrote:
hahnarama wrote:
Just a thought, it's a crazy one, but hear me out. You raise all 2020 badge prices by $10 mail them all via USPS and NOT offer Will Call as an option going forward.

Doesn't work:
1. Would prevent any advanced badge or event sales for paper ticketed events post the mailing deadline, which is weeks before the con.
2. Lots of customers don't want it - see comments in the forums every year about people who don't want to risk losing stuff in the mail.
3. International shipping is expensive and more prone to getting lost - plenty of international attendees.
 

We are of course already considering this:

1. Yes, but many of you already buy tickets post deadline. Plus once we are mainly e-ticketed this is moot.
2. Lost packets are replaced onsite and here would be an opt out option. Would not force people to have it mailed.
3. We would not do this for International Customers.

Definitely worth considering...

Mike Boozer
Customer Service & Event Team Manager
Gen Con LLC 

Posted by matthias9

One thing that I don't think I have heard mentioned in this thread is the nuisance value of having to sign for the packet.  I understand, of course, why Gen Con wants to do this.  I don't blame them.  But, for me, this never works out.  They try to deliver, but can't get a signature because I'm at work.  They try to deliver again, but can't get a signature because I'm at work.  They leave a note to go get it at the post office.  I can't get there when they are open because I am (guess where?).  For me, at least, waiting in line for 15-20 minutes on Wednesday afternoon is just less of a nuisance.  It isn't even about the $10 delivery cost.

Posted by cloak72 hahnarama

hahnarama wrote:
Just a thought, it's a crazy one, but hear me out. You raise all 2020 badge prices by $10 mail them all via USPS and NOT offer Will Call as an option going forward.
Since the price of the mailing clearly isn't a problem for you, how about you just select having the packet mailed to you, and leave those of us who DO prefer Will Call alone? 

Posted by fethbone matthias9

matthias9 wrote:
One thing that I don't think I have heard mentioned in this thread is the nuisance value of having to sign for the packet.  I understand, of course, why Gen Con wants to do this.  I don't blame them.  But, for me, this never works out.  They try to deliver, but can't get a signature because I'm at work.  They try to deliver again, but can't get a signature because I'm at work.  They leave a note to go get it at the post office.  I can't get there when they are open because I am (guess where?).  For me, at least, waiting in line for 15-20 minutes on Wednesday afternoon is just less of a nuisance.  It isn't even about the $10 delivery cost.
This is not an insignificant consideration. I’ve had issues with this too- I had to either call in to work saying I would be late so I could go to the post office when it first opened or log in to the USPS website and put in a request to hold my badge till Saturday morning so I could pick it up. Both a pain. I get that signature confirmation to the addressee  is the most secure, but I would be OK with having an opt-out selection for normal priority delivery.

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