GenCon 2014: Wrap-Up

GenCon 2014 has come and gone.

Marie Claude Bourbonnais hitting me with a frying pan

Do not insult Marie Claude Bourbonnais’s cooking…ever

It was my 15th GenCon. My first was in 1999. I attended every single year except in 2007, which was the last GenCon Gary Gygax attended. Yeah… but on the bright side, 2015 will be my sixteenth GenCon! So yay for that. I plan on having a good time there. But then again, I always have fun at GenCon. There’s so much to do and see…and so many giveaways. Free dice. Free RPGs. Free games….

Free televisions....

Free televisions….

If you haven’t had a chance to attend, I’ll try to take you through the highlights…. as well as some of the lowlights… of GenCon this year.

The Highlights

 The GenCon Experience

It’s gamer paradise. No. It’s nerd paradise. You name it, they have it. Card games. Board games. Tabletop RPGs. LARPing. Video games. Anime. Movies. Comic books. Cosplaying. Dancing. Singing. Concerts. Contests (film, cosplay, etc). Tournaments. Art shows. Auctions. Demos. Weapons. Costumes to purchase(steam punk, etc).  Jewelry.  Combat.

Purple SWAT teddy-bears with assault rifles

Purple SWAT teddy-bears with assault rifles

GenCon is a celebration of what it means to be a nerd in the modern day. There’s no other… or better… way to look at it than that. It’s a celebration.

GenCon really is gaming paradise at its finest. When I went this year, it was like the outside world disappeared. Nothing at all mattered to me outside of GenCon. While it wasn’t as if I was in an isolated community… it was as if I was taken into a world of myth and fantasy, where the only limitations was my own vast imagination. For those who love GenCon, you know exactly what I mean. For those who haven’t been to GenCon, you really, really need to go.

Go play a game. There’s an all-night Ravenloft game played every year.. I think it’s been run for the past ten years, maybe twenty. It’s a heck of a lot of fun. Or go to Hickman’s Killer Breakfast. Or play in the Magic the Gathering Tournament. Or play some Dungeons and Dragons. Or Vampire the Masquerade (or whatever it is called these days). Or check out Pathfinder. That’s a very creative worldsetting that’s also a loving tribute to the original Dungeons and Dragons… Or play Settlers of Catan (Wood for Sheep? I got me some Wood for Sheep!). Or man… the list goes on and on and on. There’s nothing like the GenCon experience. Nothing.

Nero Live Action Dungeon

You have to try this.. you really do.

The two brave warriors were killed three seconds later by a horde of SWAT teddy bears

The two brave warriors were killed three seconds later by a horde of SWAT teddy bears

They give you weapons and armor to wear. Yep. Armor. I got a chance to wear chain mail armor while wielding two swords. And you better believe that I fought for my life. The dungeon is anywhere between 4 – 6 rooms, depending on the year. Each room has monsters to fight:  Beholders, Undead, Necromancers, Plants, Dire wolves, and so… so much more.

It gives a pretty good proximity of what it is like for your characters when they get into combat. The dungeon itself takes approximately a half-hour to forty minutes to fight through. Can you imagine that? Well, I don’t have to imagine it.

I went through it.

I went through it.

Adult Fun

There’s so much to do that it is mind-boggling. But it is not just for kids. There are things there that are specifically for adults. I’ll go through three of them. Cosplay Deviants hosts events there, ranging from a game-show atmosphere (with stripping) to renting out a nightclub for a night full of dancing and fun. I…. may have… had the chance to attend the game-show and might have seen some of this first-hand. While I cannot confirm or deny that I was there, I’ll just say that… ANIME DUBBING IS FUNNY AS HELL! The event is all about having goofy, sexy fun.

D20 Burlesque put on a mind-blowing performance…. if I was there, I could go on and on about it… and I probably wasn’t there….. that I’d officially admit… but unofficially, the performances were equal part geeky and classy. A couple in particular stands out. First off, there was a choose your own adventure style show, where the crowd got to decide what the dancer would remove. The performer was very clearly having a great time with it, since she followed our… errr… the crowd’s directions. There was also a performance which paid homage to the game Duck Hunt. It started with a simulation of the game, followed by the dancer doing a fairly sensual dance while wearing a duck-bill. Oh… oh.. and the intermission performance was so good, it was scary. They even had a male go out to dance. This guy freakin’ owned the stage. Honestly all the performers did. They were all comfortable with their geekiness and sexiness, and weren’t afraid to show it. And I’d know all this if I was there… which I ‘officially’ wasn’t.

Third.. bondage. Not saying any more than that… well.. except… it was cool…

Fun With Friends

At the end, we play games to have fun with our friends.  And GenCon was the perfect place to have fun with them…

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It’s all about having fun, you know?  Enjoy these pictures of me and my friends just having fun!

The Lowlights

I’ll be brief. Outside of the usual con issues (the smell, crowds), this year’s GenCon had a report of a woman being slipped a date-rape drug. She turned out fine and all the appropriate officials are launching full investigations. I’m very impressed with how responsible GenCon and the hosting company was to something like this. I can only hope the person is caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It’s always one jackass who ruins things for everyone…

There were some complains that the artists presented exactly the same artwork this year as they did in previous years.. aka – nothing new. While I was very impressed with their work, others wanted to see something new…

I saw a lot of art and jewelry that was new....

I saw a lot of art and jewelry that was new….

I don’t know… maybe I didn’t pay close attention in previous years, but every single booth and artist seemed to have something that I haven’t seen in previous years.

Hell Yes, I’m Going Next Year

People started booking hotel rooms for next year’s GenCon on the last day of this year’s GenCon. Some people put down $3,000 for their rooms, just to make sure they would have them. That’s a hell of a lot of money. But you know, I get it. Yes, GenCon really is that awesome. If I had $3,000 to spare, I would gladly pay it.

I still remember going to GenCon for the first time in 1999. I wanted to meet Erick Wujcik, the creator of my favorite RPG called Amber. I also wanted to meet Kevin Siembieda, creator of Rifts… one of my all time favorites. They were like living legends to me.. and when I met them, they surpassed everything I could have hoped for. Kevin Siembieda has such an infectious love for RPing…. I would swear he never stops smiling. Ever. He loves gaming and appreciates the fans of his product. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if he danced down the aisles of GenCon. He had that spirit back in 1999, and he has it all the way in 2014.

My picture with Kevin Siembieda. I get my picture taken with him every year I go. I wonder if he knows....

My picture with Kevin Siembieda. I get my picture taken with him every year I go. I wonder if he knows….

And Erick… man… he passed away a few years ago. But man… he had this quirky way of… gah… I don’t really know how to put it. Erick had his own way of seeing the world. And when you were with him, you wanted to see the world through his eyes. He saw magic everywhere. While I sort of disagreed with his gaming style (he saw gaming as a PC versus GM paradigm), I could not help but admire how he took that style and made it into a game that I still play to this day.

I love going to GenCon. As long as it does not change…. I think I’ll always love going to GenCon. It is the best four days in gaming for a reason.

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