Wednesday, August 22, 2007

GenCon 07 - Day 1

I was up and heading downtown pretty early, not wanting to get stuck parking somewhere distant. Since it was Thursday, that meant it was kilt day for me. Kilts seem to becoming more popular among gamers; I see more of them every year.

I took in a couple of writing seminars early, wanting to avoid the crush at the opening of the Exhibition Hall (XH). I chose wisely. From what I heard it was a real crowd scene as a lot of folks didn't realize that instead of opening at 10am, this year the XH was opening at 11am on Thursday so that they could have a 40th anniversary ceremony with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the creator's of D&D.

I hit the XH around 11:30, allowing time for the initial crowd to filter in. One of my concerns regarding this year was the increased presence of the electronic (mostly computer) gaming industry in the XH. The XH was expanded by 33% (my rough guesstimate), and some of the partitions were left in place to help cut off the electronic area. Overall, it worked pretty good and I liked it better than in the past when computer gaming booths were scattered around the XH, with the attendant crowds and noise.

The Age of Conan booth proved popular for some reason.

I set about gathering swag also. Since Nicole couldn't make it to GenCon, I figured I could take a bit of it to her. Then I hit on the notion of actively seeking additional swag for her. I began going to booths, telling her story and hitting them up for swag for her. It was like gamer trick-or-treat.

I met up with Greg and Mike for dinner at Champs and to kill some time before the Ruckus on the Roof. The Ruckus, which took the place of the Party on the Plaza, was at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. I had never been there before and it's actually a cool looking event venue.

We got there early, and I decided that the stage would be a good place to park, leaning up against it. This proved to be an amusing choice, as we were mistaken for security, roadies, and the band. At one point I decided to ask one of the booth babes, Mikita, if I could take her picture. Greg interceded, taking my camera so that he could take my picture with her (see the top pic). Of course, we were both wearing black in a dark room, so even with enhancement was dark. And my badge got caught between us and half wrapped around me, so I look huge (insert Jabba impersonation).

The first band took the stage (Lazy Eye?). They were generic and loud. The booth babes were corralled up to the VIG balcony. We became bored and decided to explore our options. The doorman told us of a "speak-easy" that was set up for the espionage game running at the con, giving us a card, directions, and the password to get in. We found it, it was in the basement of Union Station. It was kind of neat, but not really exciting. Greg called it a night, Mike and I headed back to the Ruckus to see if the second band was better or if the meager crowd had grown.

The answer to both questions was "not really". We ran into a few people we knew, including Jason, the second band, Bayside, was loud and generic, and the crowd was still about 150 people. I spoke to one of the bartenders and he said they had prepared for 1500 people. Needless to say, it sucked to be them, as gamers tend to be cheap to begin with they had 1/10th the crowd they were staffed to handle. The high points were that Mike caught a blue dodgeball that earned him a case of BlueBawls (sp?) energy drink, and Mikita talked to me for a bit. After she left I turned to Mike and said "you are my witness, she came up and talked to me".

Things began to wind down and what was left of the crowd began dispersing. I noticed one of the booth babes pull out a card for the speakeasy.

"Mike we're leaving; back to the bar. It's not stalking if I'm there first."

By the time Mikita got there, we were already at a table. She was looking for her friends, standing behind me, when I turned around and said "Are you following me?"

* I don't normally make it a habit of stalking booth babes... but it was amusing. That and I'm careful not to wear out my welcome. After all, they're only paid so much to be nice to us.

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