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24 June 2011 @ 10:33 am
here and all  
wandering around the internet, am trying to find something that will explain to me exactly what happens at Gencon and Origin. I hear bits and pieces, but I can't find anything that gives me a coherent picture.

bit grumpy making
fishlivejournalfishlivejournal on June 24th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
(Based on info that is now several years out of date):
There is no coherent picture; you don't prebook sessions or anything like that. People turn up, roam around looking for games, play for however long the game takes, then go looking for another game.
irishmark on June 24th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
Ask Wes. As far as I know he goes to GenCon and possibly Origins
Halo? Who is Halo? My name is Guy Incognito!sly_girl on June 24th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Roleplaying happens. *nod*
Geoffeynowd on June 24th, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
What do you want to know? I haven't been to Origins, but I'm a three time veteran of Gencon (1994, 1999 - both in Milwaukee - and 2005, in Indianapolis).

Basically, early in the year, the organisers put out a call for people who want to run games (this includes companies and organisations such as the RPGA). The people running these things actually mark down which sessions they are prepared to run games in. (As far as I am aware).

A bit later on, all that information is compiled into the event schedule.

Once registration opens, people buy a pass which lets them into the con itself. They then go through the event schedule and look for sessions that they would like to play in. They order tickets for those events and pay for them in advance. People can also buy "generic tickets" which let them join any game on the day that has spare seats available for it.

Now, on the day before the actual start of the con, attendees can pick up their "pack" which has a few goodies in it, as well as their tickets.

Once the con starts, it's much like a ridiculously large version of an Australian con. People go to where their game is scheduled and they play, handing over their tickets to the GM at the beginning of the session.

Sessions are four hours long, and there are four sessions per day, starting at 8am, 12pm, 5pm and 9pm. There's only one scheduled break between sessions, between 4pm and 5pm. (In 94, there wasn't even that). Play usually lasts about three hours of the four, with the rest of the time being taken up with people arriving, doing the administrivia (as necessary), reading character sheets (if applicable) and then packing up and heading to the next session at the end.

There's also the dealers' hall. It's a huge room full of booths where the games companies (and in more recent years, other vendors such as anime sellers and even the makers of the Utilikilts) set up shop. It's usually HUGE, and a lot of games companies hold our new products to debut at Gencon. The lines for such products can be quite long at times). Companies also often host short demo games at their booths, so people can get a rough feel of a game.

There are also a collection of special guests every year, usually the stars from different geek TV shows/movies. You can line up to get their autographs, if you feel like paying for such things. There's often Q&A sessions with some of the stars too (I had fun in 1994 watching John Delancie - who played Q in ST:TNG and ST:DS9 - take the piss out of the rabid trekkers at his Q&A session).

The Saturday of the con is usually sci-fi Saturday, so there's normally a lot more cosplayers that day. You'll see a fair few people wandering around in Star Wars stormtrooper outfits and all that sort of thing.

Games companies often hold seminars about their games, or about the game industry and the like. White Wolf in 05 had an appalling habit of scheduling a four hour seminar that straddled two gaming sessions, so to go to the talk, you had to miss two game slots.

Gencon is big, impersonal, noisy, crowded and often stinky. Although I've never been to Origins, I've heard from multiple sources that Origins is much more personal and social, and Gencon is about the biz.

Other than that, I don't know what else to tell you.
Jacintademiurgically_m on June 25th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
Thanks Geoff, that's pretty much exactly what I was looking for. My only q is that you say Origins is more personal and social, does that mean it has fewer ppl?

Geoffeynowd on June 25th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
As far as I remember, yes. I recall Origins has something like 8,000 people over the four days, compared to the 25,000+ for Gencon.

I could be wrong on those figures though.
Jacintademiurgically_m on June 25th, 2011 08:31 am (UTC)
wow. That's .... heaps...
Geoffeynowd on June 25th, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
Further to that, here's a photo I took outside the dealer's hall on the first day of Gencon 2005. This is the crowd waiting for the dealer's hall to open at 10am.
Jacintademiurgically_m on June 25th, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
wow, no wonder there's a smell
Geoffeynowd on June 25th, 2011 08:40 am (UTC)
That's only day 1. The problem happens later in the con. Some gamers play every session, from 8a to 1am. They only sleep at night, and don't shower for four days.

Now, Indianapolis, in summertime, is quite hot kinda like Macquariecon typically is.

The two situations don't play nicely together.
ripley_larkhamripley_larkham on June 24th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
try asking ask Mike, he's been to one.
kingtheseuskingtheseus on June 25th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
I've been to three. I was living in Indianapolis from 2005 -2007.

The structure is much like eyonwd suggests. I can add some colour.

The convention has a reasonably think book of session schedules, that sometimes have things every hour. The convention is spread over the main convention hall, plus five different hotels. (This thing is huge.)

There are a lot of professional game designers there, from small to large, and they will GM sessions. The ones of the well known names like White Wolf, are hard to get into, and are also very popular.

The roleplaying happens in large rooms, that can have up to twelve tables, about eight of these are being used at once. I walked out of one game, because I just couldn't hear the game at all. There are few high concept games in offer, they are almost all various forms of dungeon bash (from what I could see). (It's possible that I just didn't know how to find them yet.) Freeforms often have 50 people in them and seem understaffed. I gave up on GenCon for roleplaying after the first year.

The dealer's room is huge, and have a representation of all the major companies. There have huge collections of books. you might actually see the game company owners selling their stuff. I bought comics off Phil Foglio of Girl Genius personally, and also Rich Burlew of Order of the Stick.

I kept going to GenCon not for the roleplaying, but for all the side benefits. There are conferences of well known writers like Tracy Hickman on how to be a better roleplayer. Game Design Companies talk about what they are doing next. A talk from one of the first players of D&D who played with Gary Gygax. Who gave roleplaying advice such as 'name your +1 sword, so it will have more meaning to your character.' Some GM advice panels that are excellent, and some that are not.

There is one hotel floor that is dedicated to showing movies, especially animie. There are about four movies showing at any one time. There are also movies about roleplaying, usally with the name 'Gamers', of which there are about four different movies of the same title.

My favourite part was the Writing Panels, a group of about half a dozen fantasy writers, the most famous of these being Jean Rabe, who would give advice on how to be published, how to design characters, how to write books, how to design magic for your games. These were of fantastic value.

They also have actors - like some of the cast from Battlestar Galactica, Keven Sorbo, the Mythbusters, Richard Hatch and so on. Actors from Stan Lee's reality show 'So you Want to be a Superhero?'

There are signing booths where you can meet these stars and get stuff signed by them.

Rich Burlew gave panels talking about his webcomic Order of the Stick one year, and that was perhaps my favourite expereince within GenCon.

The costumes are often fantastic, and look true to life. Gaming chicks are sometimes walking around not wearing very much. Quite sexually provocative costumes.

There is a Living Dungeon, a real life roleplay of a Dungeon Bash, with monsters to kill and traps to solve.

Hope this is of help. If you have specific questions, I might be able to answer them too.
kingtheseuskingtheseus on June 26th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh, one more thing. They tend to schedule things by the hour, not every four hours. The games run for four hours. So you might have one game starting at 12AM, which menas you couldn't make one that starts at 3PM. If you have one that starts at 4PM, you really have to hustle to make it - it could be three hotels away.

Most of the seminars last just one hour.

Also, White Wolf apparently hosts this big party, that if you talk to the right people can be invited to. I wasn't really intersted at the time, feeling much less social then than now, but i would go to it now.