Friday, August 25, 2017

Gen Con Round Up Part 2 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I'm not sure if I've done this before, and right now I don't have the time to go back and check. However, I like the idea of breaking down a review of the entire Gen Con experience this year into three categories: good, bad, and ugly and going from there.

As a disclaimer, this is entirely subjective and my opinion on the experience of attending Gen Con 50. I am sure others have had similar experiences. However, I am also sure many have had opposite experiences. It is what it is:

The Ugly
I want to end on a high note, so let's start with the pain points. The chief things I'd flag under Ugly with Gen Con 50 are: Initial Event Registration, Housing Registration, and The Waterfront Hotel.

My gripe with Event registration is simple: In the 4-5 years I have been going to GenCon I have never once managed to get into a game/event I pre-selected for initial event registration. I have managed to get into those events later with Generic Tickets, or when extra seats were added, but I've never just hit the "submit Wishlist button" at the exact moment it becomes available and come out the other end with tickets for the events I most wanted to play in or be a part of. I'm honestly not sure how Gen Con can fix this. There is, after all, only so many seats and obviously more people than seats want in, but it still sucks to happen year after year.

Housing is much the same problem. I've never seen a year with Gen Con where people were happy with how housing works. For one thing, the servers are never able to handle the load that they're getting on the day housing starts. GenCon has tried to make things more fair by randomly assigning 'shifts' when you can get into the queue for housing to solve problems, but even that seems strange. Barring taking all of the hotel space in Indy I don't see this fixing either. But being as good as it probably can be doesn't make it anything but a frustrating experience.

Finally, and unique to this year, the last Ugly interaction was the Waterfront Hotel. I don't want to go into details as it could have just been a bad week for them but we had several issues - including being put in a room already assigned to other people, and our keys randomly ceasing to function - but it was the worst hotel experience I've had in Gen Con and I see no reason I'd go back if I had another choice.

The Bad
Honestly, very little was bad this year at Gen Con, and the things that were are things you'd expect. The Convention Center food isn't worth the price but with a captive audience what are you going to do? Seating could be more plentiful, but they also need room for people to move around.

About the only thing I would single out as Bad is Fantasy Flight not having anything new for their Star Wars line in the vendor booth, and that's really not much of a thing at all now is it? I suppose more buy in from all the vendors into it being Gen Con 50 would have been good, but that's hardly Gen Con's fault.

The Good
The Event Staff were phenomenal as always. I don't know how these people hold up their composure but the Customer Service, Event Registration, and Will Call people are always friendly, polite, and prompt. The people watching the doors are unobtrusive but observant. I've never seen anyone have a bad experience with the staff that didn't deserve it. They're an awesome group.

Gate 10 Parking was also a stand out this year. Gate 10 had the cheapest parking we could find, you could sign up for it through Gen Con's event registration, and they did a great job of handling things. Parking was easy to find. They guided you into a parking spot you could easily get out of when you came back. You could come and go as you pleased. They had actual cops watching over the lots for security. And they had a 24 hour shuttle from the parking lots to the convention that was never more than 10 minutes away. They were probably one of the best parts of the convention experience, and my buddy and I have discussed using them for parking even if we get a Skywalk hotel next year.

Finally, there is Nico de Luca. Nico was a pre-gen character available for play in all four of the 7th Sea 2nd Edition adventures. I played in 3 of the adventures and in every one someone played Nico and in every one, Nico was amazing. The core concept was easy: Vodacce Gentleman Swordsman and Home Wrecker. The way that was played out by several people was unique but amazing in all three games. Whomever made Nico, my hat is off to you sir, madame, or whatever you prefer to be called.

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