Wednesday, August 22, 2007

GenCon Thoughts

I spent a long time at GenCon on Saturday. I felt compelled to spend a while; I'd feel bad paying $45 for a ticket and only staying for three hours. I think I was there for around seven hours before I absorbed my maximum geekness. I had a great time, and I suspect I'll go again next year. A few random thoughts and observations about the convention floor:
  • People-watching is a hobby of mine. And GenCon is a great place to do it.
  • Gamers wear the best t-shirts. I got one for Laura that says, "Legolas is my House Elf", and I suspect she'll love it.
  • I saw a sign at a booth selling T-shirts that read, "We sell gamer sizes: 3X-5X". I love the fact that they refer to clothing for enormous people as "gamer-sized".
  • GenCon's floor is a sociological study in marketing. You can blatantly tell the games created by hardcore gamers, and you can tell the games backed by a bunch of guys in suits looking to maximize their return on investment. Oddly, the cashing-in games tend to be insanely popular, even among gamers (who tend to be a bit anti-establishment); the suits are good at their jobs.
  • It's hard to start being a gamer. Most gameplay in newer games is predicated on a fundamental knowledge of older games; there are very few "starter games".
  • GenCon people get a lot of flak for being geeky, but I really can't find a significant difference between someone who'll dress up like a knight to play a role-playing game, and someone who dons a Colts jersey every Sunday and has two fantasy football teams. It's entirely a function of how mainstream your geek focus is.
  • I haven't really gamed for over ten years. It shows; a lot of the gameplay was utterly unfamiliar to me. I've never played a collectible card game, and my last run at Dungeons and Dragons didn't even use miniatures.
  • I was hoping that I would feel a sense of community at GenCon, but I really didn't. It was like pretty much every other convention floor I've wandered across; fun stuff to look at, interesting people to talk to, but I felt disconnected from the event as a whole, like I somehow didn't belong. It was odd, and a little disappointing. I had fun, for sure. But I never got that sense of home while I was there.


Ted said...

I missed it this year. Tell me, any hot babes in sexy costumes? Let me live vicariously through you!

Jeff Mountjoy said...

No huge hordes of babes in the Princess Leia Metal Bikini, unfortunately. I didn't go to the costume contests, but I'm assuming that most of the people in competition were also wandering the floor. I noticed that the most attractive women, with one or two exceptions, weren't attending the con -- they were the paid models. The new Conan the Barbarian videogame booth was the real stand-out. Conan had some hot booth babes.

Unsurprisingly, I have a theory about this -- a lot of attractiveness is a matter of presentation, rather than genetics. If you're going out of your way to look attractive, most people can do a pretty good job of it. But if you're going out of your way to embrace the hardcore-geek look, it's somewhat mutually exclusive with looking attractive. Also, if you're trying to look attractive, you tend to pick the clothes and styles that fit you best. If you're going for costuming and character, you generally pick your costume based on factors unrelated to whether or not it's a good look for you. I don't think that, as a rule, GenCon attendees are less attractive than the population as a whole; I think if the same people were dressing up for a nice dinner out, they'd look a lot better than they do at GenCon.

However, the rule of thumb about gamers being out of shape is probably one of the more accurate stereotypes. And a lack of physical fitness is rarely an attractive quality....