Hello everyone! I came to GenCon this week with a group of people and am a member of the press because of my affiliation with The Koalition! For those of you unaware, GenCon is a massive gaming convention. If you are like me and a lot of other people, when you think of “gaming” you might be inclined to imagine video and computer games. However, that is only a small fraction of the “gaming” community. There are table top games like Dungeons and Dragons, there are card games like Magic: The Gathering, there are board game and card game hybrids, there are big games with 3d models and miniatures everywhere like Warhammer, and even that doesn’t begin to encompass the types of experiences they have here. Then of course they have electronic games as well, but that is only a portion of the overall experience. My first day (August 3rd) only included arriving at the Convention and getting settled in, but August 4th is when the action really started! I will post a summary article after every day of the Convention, as well as separate posts for interviews and previews I found extra interesting!
First Highlight: The Location
The great thing about this Convention, is the location. It is right in the middle of Indianapolis, and there are tons of areas to visit in your free time. And most importantly: the hotel I am staying at is actually connected to the Convention Center the whole takes place in by a skyhall that connects the buildings in the air, going over the street like an overpass for pedestrians. It makes traveling so much easier and is great for avoiding the heat in the summer time. However, the connected buildings get even better. The convention hall is ALSO connected via skyhall to the local mall which is fully featured with lots of shops and a really large food court. Overall, this makes the Convention a lot more convenient and easier to get acclimated with!
Second Highlight: The Goodie Bag
Swag bags are an integral part of expereinces like this, and this Convention has not dissapointed one bit. I picked up my Press Badge and swag bag Thursday morning, with tons of goodies inside. The bag included a 30-card booster pack for the game Magic: The Gathering, which is really nice, tons of advertisements and coupons for booths and such around the convention, as well as a full and unopened copy of the MMO: Rift. I cannot wait to give this game a try as it comes with 30-days of free time when you install it new!
Third Highlight: Reality in Fantasy Lecture
The first thing I had on my schedule yesterday was attending a lecture by various authors, editors and general minds in the fantasy fiction genre (or nonfiction reenactment genre of stuff.) It was mostly a seminar for aspiring authors, but I still found a lot of the information interesting. I will cover this in more detail during the episode of Turn Based that follows my time at the Convention, but it covered topics like: “Is it possible to vault onto a horse while wearing full plate armor?” “How far can an average archer actually shoot a bow?” “How to make your work, as an author, really come alive?” The lecture was about an hour, and while I am not a writer, I still found the tips and information pretty cool.
Fourth Highlight: Dungeons and Dragons Gaming Session
Well, I got introduced to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) about a week ago, so I am very loosely familiar with the game. I enjoy RPGs (as many of you reading this know already if you listen to Turn Based) so I am comfortable with most of the mechanics, settings, etc. The only issue was actually getting used to having to roll the dice for calculations and all of the more nuanced rules. The great thing about D&D though, is that you have a “Dungeon Master” who does the narration, makes sure you know and follow the rules, controls the monsters, and pretty much everything. So even if you aren’t too familiar with the game, you can still have fun just learning as you go with a good DM.
A few other members of the press and I got to play a short preview of the new campaign launching, called Neverwinter. It takes place in and near the city of Neverwinter in the Forgotten Realms universe. If you are familiar with PC gaming, you probably have played or heard of the Neverwinter Nights games, which take place there, and many other D&D inspired video games are in the Forgotten Realms. This has always been one of the most popular scenarios, so a lot of fans are ecstatic to see it coming back. This time it is 100 years in the future after the city has been devastated by natural disasters and other catastrophes. I will divulge more details on this further as I had an interview with someone directly from Wizards of the Coast, so now on to the actual preview session.
The session I was involved in was ran by the Dungeons and Dragons R&D Design Manager, James Wyatt. I will not go into the details of how to play D&D and the like, but I will keep this in lamens terms as much as possible. Think of combat in D&D basically like any turn based RPG: Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, Shining Force, etc. In this module, our characters arrived at a town that was then attacked, and we had to fend off the enemies. It was a short little adventure that was pretty easy, but we had a good time. Afterwards we got to talk to him a bit more about his job and the upcoming things that Wizards has in store for everybody! He was a fantastic host and everything was really great!
In addition to this press-only session, I participated in two “dungeon delves” which consisted of just combat. We were timed and tasked with wiping out the whole dungeon. If we completed the task, we got stamps on a card that could be redeemed for prizes, as well as a chance at winning magical items that can be used with our characters for future devles during the Convention.
Fifth Highlight: True Dungeon Experience
GenCon is also home to a pretty unique thing called the “True Dungeon.”You collect tokens that be used as “items” in the game. The game is a live action crawl through a dungeon. Think of it sort of like you are being transported into a Zelda dungeon, full of puzzles and enemies to fight. The puzzles can be really tough and can require lots of teamwork and creative thinking. The party that I was with could not even solve them all on the normal difficulty! There are lots of things this experience could stand to improve upon, but it was definitely something fun and unique everyone needs to try at a Convention like this.
Overall I am having a fantastic time at GenCon so far. This is not even all of the things I have to share about my first day as I previewed a video game, card game, board game, and had two interviews/discussion sessions! I have also not explained the “Dealer Room” which is where all the merchandise and a lot of events take place, nor have I shown all the pictures of the great costumes I have seen! At the end of the convention I will make a separate post with a compilation of all the costumes I have seen thought the week! Look out for more GenCon posts as I continue to summarize my experiences! I can definitely say that I am interested in attending again next year! Let me know what you think in the comments below!