This year and last year I attended Gen Con and while many things stayed the same, there were some notable differences. It was nice to see that the weakened economy did not seem to affect turnout – at least as far as I could discern.
The first thing I noticed at Gen Con was a disappointment; the goody bag’s handed out for preregistration were almost empty. Sure there were the standard coupons for $5 3rd Edition books from Troll and Toad, codes to get discounted stuff in online games, a d6 with Gen Con 2009 written on it, and a pack on Magic: the Gathering cards. However, I remember having packs of other cards in my bag last year as well as a couple of promotional cards for new games. My wife suggested that there were probably less new games coming out this year. It still surprises me though that none of the other trading card games even gave away a promotional common card as an incentive to start playing.
The second thing I noticed was that the free badge lanyard handed out this year was of much higher quality than the one last year. Last year’s lanyard consisted of a piece of string with a plastic holder attached. This year, by contrast, was a real lanyard complete with a wide nylon (I think) ribbon connected to a swiveling alligator clip. Besides not digging into my skin anywhere near as much, this lanyard also tangled much less frequently. This mostly made up for the disappointment over the swag bag.
Many of the mainstays were still there: Wizards of the Coast, Troll and Toad, Twilight Creations, Cloud Kingdom, and others. But either the booths were packed closer together, or there were less vendors as last year went up to the 2600 row and this year stopped at 2400. I suspect that several of the small companies presenting their first games last year did not survive the recession. I was glad that Cloud Kingdom was in attendance because I like their riddle challenges.
Also, many of the entertainment aspects were still there. Anime was being shown in conference room theaters every night and many rooms had games for all levels of skill. While I did not attend the costume contest this year or last, I did see almost all of the costumes as people were wearing them in the halls and on the sales floor; some of these costumes were quite impressive and I hope to have a few pictures up soon. Live music was to be found in several locations. For a more in depth discussion on the music, head over to my my post on Music Discussions. Also, the second annual Queen of Geeks contest was entertaining and my friend Tasha (a.k.a Stupid Ranger) from Stupid Ranger won the Congeniality award.
I have bought several games that will probably inspire my next several (or many) posts. This is especially true since I have finally caught up with the rest of the world and have purchased the core rules for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.