This year’s Gen Con will go down as one of the most attended events in the convention’s 52-year history. Nearly 70,000 attendees packed the four-day-long show at the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the several surrounding hotels in downtown Indianapolis.
Of those thousands in attendance lining the streets and 566,000 square-feet of the convention center, 538 were exhibiting companies showing off their games and merchandise.
Now, yes, that is a lot of people all in one place, but don’t let the crowds keep you from enjoying the best four days in gaming. As first-timers ourselves, we set out on a mission to explore what Gen Con has to offer and are here to help you navigate your way through next year’s event.
Getting Those Tickets
To acquire tickets, head over to Gen Con’s official website. There, attendees have the option of obtaining passes for single days or 4-day passes for the entire weekend. If you can’t make it all four days, consider at least going for two to experience a large majority of the show.
However, getting show tickets is just phase one of Gen Con. Before arriving at the con, you can sign up to join a number of activities around the showroom floor. These include RPG games, board games, seminars, panels, and more. These are built for newcomers, veterans, children, and adults and can be found at the convention center or one of the many nearby hotels.
Booking Your Room
You can achieve this in one of two ways: by either waiting for an email from Gen Con or booking it in advance of the convention. Booking with the help of the convention might save you a bit of cash but you run the risk of not choosing a hotel directly near the con. The hotel raffle works by selecting a random time to book a hotel room for those who bought badges. The sooner you complete the process, the better your chances are of securing a close hotel room.
The other way is you can book your stay well in advance at your own leisure.
When packing, keep in mind the weather as well. It was in the mid to uppers the 80s the entire weekend this year, so wearing clothes that breath easily will make sure you are more comfortable.
Scar said it best in his one-hit-wonder “Be Prepared.” You will be walking quite a bit, so you will want to prepare for long treks to and from the convention center. Pack a set of comfortable shoes with good padded support. There are places to sit around the center and the nearby hotels but seats can be hard to come by and you may end up having to sit on the floor to rest your feet.
Backpacks and Bags
Gen Con has hundreds of board games, swag, and merchandise to take home with and you will want to bring a backpack to carry your haul of gaming goodness; you may even need two. Bags are also handy for loading up on water, food, and snacks.
Speaking of water, consider stocking up on water bottles or bringing your own on your quest to find the board game you’re after.
One of the highlights of this year’s Gen Con was how easy it was to find food. Dozens of food trucks lined the street outside of the convention center, making it simple to run out and grab a bite. Hopefully, they return next year as well to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner again.
Charging Stations and WiFi
You hear a lot about how there aren’t places to charge your phones, cameras, or laptops, but we did see a few spaces to relax and charge up your battery. However, that being said, if you constantly use your phone while walking around and need it at a moments notice, consider bringing a portable battery charger.
Finding a signal inside the convention center is a lot like finding Waldo; it can be easy but the majority of the time it takes a bit of searching. You’ll get a bar or two but then lose it after taking a few steps. There is WiFi around Gen Con, so you can connect to that as well and hope it works everywhere.
Make a Plan
Consider planning out your path beforehand. You can find every board game vendor and company on Gen Con’s website before the convention begins so you know where everything will be.
There you have it, a guide to exploring Gen Con and the basics of what you’ll need to make the trip a little easier. Gen Con for 2020 is July 30 through August 2. Happy rolling everyone.
This article was written in conjunction with Ashley Roepel.
Scott’s been gaming since he could hold a controller in his hands. He’s a journalist who loves Dungeons and Dragons, video games, tabletop RPGs, and comic books. He has an intelligence of 6, he knows what he’s doing.