Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Great GenCon Review - 2014

Hello all,
Thanks for being so patient with me and my lack of posts, its been a very busy time again at Fez industries. To make it up to you, here is my long over due GenCon review!

As some of you will know, I've work for a games distribution company in the UK as a buyer, and Gencon is a chance to meet all our US suppliers as well as keep an eye out for the new hotness.

Its also the realisation of a life long dream!

We planned to fly out the Tuesday, giving us Wednesday to scope the Venue while people were setting up, and then on with meetings and covering the vendor hall for the other four days, flying back Sunday afternoon.

We had arranged to be upgraded on the way out to 'Premium economy' which I though would be a great way to experience long haul flying for the first time - we arrived to find that although our outbound Virgin flight to NY was ok, the connecting Delta flight to Indy had been cancelled - so we were then rebooked to fly Delta to Minneapolis, meaning we were dropped back to economy. Not to bother, we have booked premium economy on the way home.

Our sky chariot on the way out!
The flight was, well, great. I personally can't get over the 'normality' of being served a meal at 35,000 ft at just under the speed of sound - I suppose its all those hours of being stuck at around a 1,000ft struggling to eat a chocolate bar.

First, a couple of points on my first impressions of America - Over the course of the week, many people upon finding it was my first Gencon and my first time 'Stateside' would ask me this. I could sum it up in three words - Big, Choice and Service. The entire Country is big. Seeing roads with no bend for 20 miles really threw my brain out of kilter. I worked out that my entire first year University room would have fit in the en suite toilet of the hotel room

Indianapolis - Flat nothing with huge buildings in the middle!
Choice - Is everywhere. How would you like your burger cooked? What one of our 25 beers would you like? Choose from seven different refillable coffees - Its so easy to get analysis paralysis at first! (handy hint is to ask what the waiter would have!)

Can you get any more American than Baseball? No games this time of year though...

This is a starter. Three of us couldn't eat it.

Yup. Starter. Not to share. For one.
And Service - It is amazing. As soon as you are seated in a restaurant, you have jugs of ice water put on the table as a matter of course. These are not allowed to become more than 1/3 empty, before they are automatically refilled. The same goes for any soft drink you order. It's almost like its a law or something. With the low standing wages the serving staff are on, tips are how they earn their money, and boy do they earn it.

The gaming halls. So big you can't fit it in one Panarama

The second half. SO BIG
 After getting a day to acclimatise, we managed to get into the halls early with our retail passes. The gaming space was huge. Superlatives fail me. You had to see that much room to get a grasp of the size of them.

This is the cue BEFORE the main doors open! Doomtown was popular!
The doors opened to the 'early bird' gamers at 9, with general admission at 10. The rush of humanity when the doors opened was incredible - I lost track of the time one morning, and ended up trying to cross the flow to make a meeting - it was like a crazy game of human frogger as people raced to get in the cues for the show specials, or for the limited stock for the latest releases that was put out each day.

So many shininess!

Could this replace the need for 40k? Its only just released in stores!
 Fantasy Flight Games really pulls out all the stops - they have such a catalogue of products, that when they attend a show they really attend - huge demo areas, a well run shop, and they even had a free game for people to play in the cue - it involved swapping cards with other cue members. Once you had the correct collection, you could then get the second pack/level. If you completed this as well, you won one of the ultimate prizes - either a tour around the FFG HQ at Minneapolis, or a one use 'Cut to the front of the FFG line' card, redeemable at any FFG show!

I managed to meet the WWPD guys, which was cool, along with Scott Kurts who writes the rather good webcomic. I was also fortunate enough to meet all the D6 Generation guys, Raef, Russ and Craig. I also saw, but didn't have time to meet, Tom Vassil, Will Wheaton and Darth Vader (who's let himself go a bit) rounding off my Geek royalty list (Although having met the guys from Breakthrough Assault, I was somewhat underwhelmed-See Beyond the Foxholes ep 19).

The whole experience is totally overwhelming, although other than waiting for the doors to open, the crowds are no where near as bad as I've experienced in the UK, and the whole centre is air conditioned - before the trader hall opened up, the lack of gamer generated heat actually made it quite chilly! I guess the Americans are just used to having that much more space.

The range of the gaming hobby on display is incredible, first time publishers under the same roof as (geek) household names. Walking back from unwinding at a bar, the convention corridors were still rammed with people playing games, even at 2am - people really embrace the spirit of gaming.

Oh, and that premium flight back? Our Delta connecting flight was cancelled, meaning a four hour wait at the airport in Indi, and then economy Delta back to old blighty!

If you can make it, its everything it promises to be - even though I didn't make any events or talks, and spend the days walking the trade hall, it was amazing, although even with it being a business trip I still waxed through a lot of spending money - just so much awesome stuff on sale!

I'm off to Essen next week, so will do a similar write up.

Picture dump below, thanks for reading!


Darth Vader getting a Soda. 

Mars Attacks, another great game that's only just released

Boots anyone?
Its massive - look at the woman standing next to it!

Gen-con - a mecca for Magic single cards!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness.... It really makes our shows in the UK look like the village jumble sale doesn't it