At age 18, I squeezed into the tiny backseat of a Chevette with another gamer for an arduous 350 mile drive to Gen Con 1986 in Milwaukee. I've never looked back. Since then, I have not missed attending a single one. This year would have been my 35th in a row.
To some, going to a game convention is a brief getaway like a state fair or a renaissance festival. To me, Gen Con is a lot more than that. It's an opportunity to game, yes. But it also represents an annual tradition with my friends. It's a week I don't have to be a dad. I don't have to manage a worksite. I catch up with friends, go out to eat a lot, learn a few new games. It really frames my year to a large extent.
My weekly gaming group keeps track of sessions, who played, what game was played, who won, what was the most popular game of the year, etc. In that calculus, our game year isn't January to December, instead the year is from Gen Con to Gen Con.
In short, Gen Con is important to me. My only regret is that I didn't take more photos along the way. Losing it this year is necessary, but still a gut punch. Thanks to all who put it on or help support it. We'll be back.
Lastly, I've never read the forums here as thoroughly as I have this spring. Shout-out to the relentless positivity of so many of you including memorable posts by deathdwarf, lehane, tinabear81 and many, many more. Too many to list. I'd buy you a drink if I could get within 6ft. See you in 2021.
I totally agree with your feelings about the convention. I have only been going since the late 1990s, but from my second time attending I started to realize there was more going on here than just a fun thing I went to do for a few days. By the time I started volunteering for the Auction I pretty much thought of Gen-Con as the center of the year, and Indianapolis has become one of my favorite places as a side effect.