Hi all, I'm looking at attending GenCon this year (all the way from New Zealand!) and was wondering how the housing thing works. My wife will be accompanying me for the trip to the US but is probably not too interested in the GenCon portion of it. So when the housing booking opens am I able to book a room for 2 or can you only book rooms for people with badges? Thanks in advance.
You will be able to book a two person occupancy room but will only get one lottery slot.
You will book a typical hotel room with a king bed or two smaller beds.
Gen Con has negotiated a block rate on most of the hotel rooms withing walking distance of the convention center. They limit the number of rooms you can book based on the number of badges purchased, but the room is all yours to house as many people as the hotel allows, regardless of whether they have badges.
There are more attendees than walking-distance rooms, so there is a lottery for what is effectively your place in line to access the hotel-booking site. There are plenty of other hotels within 10 miles, both in the block and not.
Also, there are a ton of non-gamer events (sometimes called "spouse events"). Those events will come out when the general event list is published (early May, I believe). They range widely and can include things like trips to various places around Indy (museums, libraries, etc), crafty stuff, movies, etc. I'm pretty sure a badge is required for said spouse (or whomever) to participate, but might still be great for your wife to enjoy. Many/ most of these events are not at the convention center, so if your wife is crowd-averse, these would probably be just fine for her. I should add that transportation is always part of the event if it is away from the con, so logistics for those events are built-in.
There are also so very, very many things to do at the convention proper. There is a huge puppetry track with everything from build your own to how to mimic. There are tons of anime events. There are miniature painting classes (usually with paint and figurine provided). Plus, as BWD stated, the Dealer's Hall is pretty amazing and overwhelming. It's not just gaming. There are artists, tea-dealers, hat makers, costumers, clothing outfitters, pen and paper shops, books, video stores, and the entire artist's alley full of amazing creations.