Thursday, August 25, 2005


What I Have Learned from GenCon

I thought I’d fill you in on what I’ve learned from my two years attending GenCon (2004 and 2005). Right off the bat, let me tell you that I think it will take another couple excursions to GenCon to test this knowledge and come up with the Ultimate Guide, or at least my favorite options, for getting the most out of the experience, depending on my goals.

1. One day is not enough. Paradoxically, four days may be a little too much.
Rationale: At least for the vendors, the first day is very much about getting settled in, the second day sort of just holds the date, the third gets really crowded, and the fourth is all about getting rid of stuff so you don't have to cart it back home with you. Bearing that in mind, if you have to pick, it's probably optimal to attend the middle two days of the con to get the full flavor. But there are workshops and seminars happening all four days, and I'd really like to try staying at one of the hotels to see if that makes the 4-day experience easier (instead of commuting the hour and fifteen minutes from Bloomington).
Solution: Get a hotel room.

2. The floor can be overwhelming.
Rationale: It's a visual and aural buffet.
Solution: Spend more time at the mall at Christmas. On the sale days. On the really big sale days. Or the day after Thanksgiving.
Better solution: Take an hour to just soak it all in. Then take a break and come back to it later.

3. Don’t schedule anything for 8AM, especially after the second day of the con.
Rationale: I just seemed to get more tired after the second day of the con. We didn't make it to a single 8AM session that we had planned to attend. I'm not sure that we missed much, judging on the hit-or-miss quality of the other presentations made by the presenters in question. Perhaps there's a rule about programming during less peak hours that explains this.
Solution: Imbibe more caffeine.
Better solution: Get a hotel room; it may be completely do-able to make an 8AM seminar if you can roll out of bed at 7:50AM and take the elevator downstairs to the meeting room.

4. Seminars and workshops on the same general theme, even when offered by different personalities, will probably still be repetitive.
Rationale: I selected to attend seminars with an emphasis on writing and editing. I heard a lot, for example, about character development, avoiding passive voice, and editing dialogue. Again and again and again. Totally my fault.
Solution: Don’t overload on seminars and workshops on the same theme.
Corollary to solution: Sign up for the seminars and workshops that interest you, go to as many as possible on the first day, then decide from that exposure to the presenters’ styles with whom you want to spend the next few days of the con in the remaining sessions.

5. Bottled water is always more expensive the closer the vendor is to the epicenter of the con (that is, the floor), yet staying hydrated - especially wearing your Wookie costume - is essential.
Rationale: Cons bite into the budget a little bit. Parking alone was stupidly expensive. Starting to save now for next year's GenCon is a smart thing to do, especially since we'd like to try the hotel option.
Solution: Don’t wear the Wookie costume in Indiana in August because it *will* be hot and humid.
Better solution: Make like your D&D character and pack your own water. This will enhance your role-playing abilities, too, because suddenly those penalties you take on certain Skill checks when you’re overburdened by weighty items will make all sorts of sense.

6. I want to play the Life-Size Kill Dr. Lucky, and I want to attend Tracy Hickman’s Killer Breakfast.
Rationale: Anything Tracy Hickman does is going to be interesting, and I keep hearing great things about the Killer Breakfast - a GenCon tradition. Gotta be part of it sooner or later.
Solution: Register even earlier (than the end of May) on-line.
Corollary to solution: E-mail Cheap Ass Games to encourage them to do more than two sessions (of 8 players each) of the Life-Size Kill Dr. Lucky.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Update #1:
I'm afraid to say much about the interview, but I certainly enjoyed the conversation. I feel like I learned a lot about the job, the office climate, and potential co-workers, and I think I presented the relevance of my experience and goals as clearly as possible. Everything about the interview only affirmed for me that I really want this job. So here's hoping....

Update #2:
Chris has an art show coming up in Pittsburgh at Washington and Jefferson College. There's a little photo and two-line publicity blurb on the main page of the college's website.

A shout out to my brother Chris, whose birthday is August 11th, and to my brother Kevin, whose birthday is August 14th.

Rejection from Lone Star Stories for the story "Lives Insured." Very professional: quick turnaround, as promised, and a nice note.

I've got a job interview next Monday for a position that I'm really quite interested in, so here's hoping it goes well.

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