It is Monday morning, the Monday after Gen Con. In case you don't know what it is, you can check it out here: http://www.gencon.com/.
It truly is, as they say, 'the Best Four Days in Gaming'. In gaming, yes, and in people-watching and costume flaunting; four days of fantasy, sci-fi, graphic novels, heroes, damsels, elves, mages, clerics, daemons, Doctors and Deadpool; four days of attack points, strength, plus and minus, card-flipping, dice-throwing debauchery. It is four days where society's 'Unnoticed' (in high school, at the office, in life) lift their voices as one and say, "We are here. We exist. We are 40,000 strong." Four days of pure unadulterated joy; in short, an unabashed and much-needed celebration of geekery.
I'm a 54-year old mom, the mother of 22- and 16-year old boys. I don't know how long we've been going to Gen Con. Long enough to remember checking the 16-year-old into the Training Grounds and walking around with his older brother. Like many, we first came on a Sunday on a Family Pass--and that was enough to hook us.
Now, every year in January, we register for our 4-day passes. In May, we sit by the countdown clock and hit 'Enter' as soon as it hits zero, waiting to see if we get all our events. In June, we start on our costumes. My boys, in past years, have been 'L', a steam-punk Zombie, Clu from 'Tron', the Black Hand Lantern, Roxas from Kingdom Hearts, Sasori from Naruto and this year, Evangellion (whatever that is--all I know is that the costume was a b****....). In past years, I've gone as 'generic medieval'. This year, I was Catelyn Stark. Next year, considering the feedback I got on my costume, maybe Tyrion--since he's probably closer to my height.... 8-/
For us, as a family, it is four days of heaven. We've been going to Gen Con often enough that we now have Gen Con traditions. As we live in Greenfield--so lucky are we to be in driving distance of this awesome con--on Wednesday, we get in the car and come down together to get our passes at the Will-Call window. We could have them mailed to us, but it gives us a chance to grab the event guide and study it before Thursday morning. And it's like Christmas Eve. We get psyched up. We make our plan for the days for getting up early to park in our 'usual spot'. Where we will meet for food (usually hitting our favorite Johnny Rocket's more than once over the four days). We review our event schedule. We spend the rest of Wednesday on last minute touches for our costumes. We try and fail to go to bed early.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday--up early, drive, park and then, games and walking, walking, walking. We love the exhibit hall, we love the auction room, we love the costumes. We play our favorite games and demo a dozen more over the four days of the con. We see people we know (more so every year....). We take a ton of photos; sometimes we get our OWN photo taken. We watch the progress of Cardhalla. We make lists for purchasing. We watch the costume parade and sometimes the Zombie Walk. We attend Hickman's Killer Breakfast. We comment on what's trending at Gen Con, what's new this year, and what's changed from last year.
Sunday is our calm day (so to speak). No costumes today for us. Just normal, comfortable walking-around clothes. No obstructed vision. No one is over-heated. We wander through the exhibit hall and make our final game-purchase decisions. We buy a t-shirt. I get a new pair of earrings. And when the hall closes, we meet at the info desk and make our way to PF Chang's, another Gen Con tradition. We are bone-tired. Carrying heavy bags. We sit and eat rice with chopsticks and talk about what we've seen, and done, and what we want to be sure we fit in for next year. Another Gen Con has passed. The fastest four days of gaming for sure.
We've been to Disney as often as we've been to Gen Con. It's hard to say which we enjoy more. We talk about Disneys past and Gen Cons past equally and with equal nostalgia. Gen Con, Disney, Christmas....it's a toss-up.
Epilogue: several years ago, my oldest son and I stayed late on a Friday night...later than we usually do. We went to the Mayfair game hall to find someone to teach us Catan. (Yes, at that time, we'd never played before. Disclaimer: Catan is 'a gateway game', be forewarned....). We found a father and two sons who were willing to instruct us. The father lived in Indy, but his grown sons lived in Texas and Seattle. Every year, they met up at Gen Con and spent four days together playing games, catching up on each others' lives, and enjoying the heck out of the time spent together--at, of all places, Gen Con.
This is my hope for me and my sons, now a college sophomore and high school freshman. That, wherever they are in life, wherever they go in this world, that come the first of August, they will come home to Indiana, to GenCon, and we will be like this father and his sons: reunioning, playing games, people-watching, and enjoying the heck out of the time spent together.
To me, this is the legacy of Gen Con. There are no restrictions in gaming, like there are in sports and many other things in life. You can get too old to throw a football, to play one-on-one in the driveway, to hike the Grand Canyon, but you're never gonna be too old to play Settlers of Catan. Gaming is ageless, sexless, universal, and eternal. Long live Gen Con.