I started a post a few days ago, one that was filled with excitement and optimism and the promise of pictures from GenCon. I saved it, never finished it, and am now sitting in a hotel room on the last night of GenCon with a completely different mood from a few days ago. It's not necessarily a bad mood. It's contemplative and a little bit disappointed.
GenCon, the second time around, didn't live up to what it had been in my mind for the past year.
It wasn't horrible. The fun times were really fun. I got to spend time with friends, and I got to see old friends I hadn't seen in years. I got a chance to see how far I've come with my ability to walk. It wasn't as far as I wanted, but it was definitely an improvement from three months ago. I made alternate player in a gaming tournament (even though our team didn't advance) due to some crazy rapper skills I didn't think I had. I got to try out some new games and Jon even won a game for us to take home.
This year's con, though, had a distinctively different feel than last year's. From the start, we had problems with misinformation from the hotel we stayed at, so money ended up being a factor. While staying downtown seemed like a great idea (and part of it was), I missed the frugality and lack of stress of the cheaper hotel room outside of the downtown limits.
GenCon itself should have been easier to move around due to the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. But there were places I never even saw, and the walk to get from point A to point B was longer. The movie and panel options were less than thrilling. The dealer room was definitely improved and actually gave me three great hours, but True Dungeon...an event that I thought was fun last year...was disappointing and annoying.
Another disappointment? The people. Last year we talked to so many people. Everyone was friendly, everyone wanted to chat. People would say hi to you and strike up a conversation anywhere. This year was definitely lacking. Don't get me wrong, there were some good people. We talked to a guy in the Will Call line who was nice, and conversation made the time go by quickly. During the first couple days we were in Indy, Jon and I walked around the convention center and several people said hi. But once the con started, there seemed to be a general coolness that I didn't remember from last year. In some instances, people were downright rude.
I'm fully aware that all of this could have been simply my own perception based on my own moods. Admittedly, the issues at the beginning of the week had me down and a little worried. My levels of frustration were high when I thought I should be able to walk further than I could and had to sit down or avoid certain situations because I was in pain. I felt bitter and let down, and it's likely I projected some of that into my overall experience.
However, the con gets some blame too, because I'm not the only one who felt this way. Others I talked to were disappointed in True Dungeon. Several people complained about general rudeness, and people who heard me praise GenCon to no end seemed to be disappointed in their first experience. While I know my adverse moods can effect those in my immediate vicinity, I'm not taking credit for everyone's disappointment.
Will I go to GenCon again? Probably. I feel that it needs another chance, a tie breaker to decide if this year was a fluke or if things are going downhill. I only have one year and a bunch of testimonials from our friends as a basis for comparison. I don't want to give up on it because there are some good times to be had here.
Next year I hope to be in better shape and better able to do more events. I'm hoping that by making some more frugal choices we can splurge on some things we haven't yet been able to do. Do I regret coming this year? Not at all. I still have some good stories and new memories and quality time with friends is never something I regret.
But I will be happy to get back to the real world.