This past week, two of my friends and I attended Gen Con 2018, an annual convention in Indianapolis that celebrates the players and creators of tabletop games such as Warhammer 40k, Dungeons & Dragons, and much, much more.
The event was located in the Indiana Convention Center, a massive structure with two massive convention floors, both of which were packed to the brim with eager convention attendants. The event sold out a month before its August 2nd start date, and my friends and I were lucky to snag tickets in time.
Being the first “Convention” any of us had ever attended, we were unsure of what to expect, and were certainly caught unprepared by how crowded the turnout was. To make matters worse, only I had brought a backpack small enough to be carried around during the event, meaning that I was left carting all the items my friends and I purchased to and from our car, parked in a garage two blocks from the center.
But the luggage was far from my biggest gripe with the event. That honor was given exclusively to some of the denizens of this great con – some of whom, it would appear, had not seen a shower or bath in many nights.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to be blasted with a hit of nasty B.O. while making my way through the overcrowded convention floors. The problem certainly wasn’t everyone but us – in retrospect, it was probably less than 10% of the total attendees, but it was bad enough to become a constant problem while navigating the areas. Worse still, some of the individuals working the booths or show floors also fell prey to this issue, and I had to balance my respect of their dedication and hard work to crafting these game worlds with my nostrils, which begged me to vacate the immediate area.
Please excuse me if my displeasure over this issue has made you believe the event wasn’t a good time – it was. It was a lot of fun, and very enjoyable in all the right ways. I had a great time going on a 10-hour road trip from NJ to Indianapolis with my friends, and an even better time meeting new friends at the convention center.
There was a very friendly air of mutual respect and admiration floating around the stage floor. This is aided by the fact that Tabletop gaming is a pretty small hobby, compared to other nerdy pleasures such as comic books or video games, so many of the teams responsible for creating the games have less than 30 total members.
Players at the event were honored by the chance to meet those who had written and created some of their favorite tabletop experiences, and Creators were shocked to see all the enthused faces of fans who had derived so much fun and enjoyment out of their hard work. Every time I told a creator about how much my friends and I enjoyed their work, they looked genuinely happy that their work had reached people like me.
Despite being such a large event, it still felt like a very small family. And even if a few family members might benefit from some warm water and a bar of soap, I was glad to have them there nonetheless.