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GenCon 2017: A Look Back at the Best Four Days in Gaming

It seems like we all anxiously await GenCon only to have it pass in the blink of an eye. Months of planning and anticipation come down to four days that fly by leaving us ready to plan for next year. This year’s GenCon came amid a very busy summer for us and now that fall is here, I’m thinking back to warmer days and all the fun that is the Best Four Days in Gaming.

Each year, we plan GenCon as a family adventure making a road trip from New Hampshire to Indiana. Yes, this is a crazy long drive, but not as crazy as paying airfare and it’s a heck of a lot more fun when you drive. We divide the trip into two days each way so no one is driving through the night, except that one time. One time. Never again. What a mistake. Do not arrive at the Best Four Days in Gaming sleep deprived. You can leave that way, but definitely don’t arrive that way.

Our crazy summer schedule had the journey all kinds of broken up with my husband flying in to meet me and my youngest daughter. Our oldest couldn’t make it this year because she was being a responsible teenager (that’s really a thing) and stayed behind to go to her school’s chorus camp. So, it wasn’t the usual GenCon for us.

5 Things You Must do at GenCon

Despite spending all that time behind the wheel, it was a fantastic trip out with stops for my daughter’s first official Buffalo wings at Duff’s. She is a big fan and although I tried to get her to try Anchor Bar on the way home, she was unwilling to miss what she knew was good so another stop for more wings at Duff’s. Yes, all you purists can start sending me emails now telling me why this was the wrong choice and that we must rectify this and go to Anchor Bar. Guys, she’s only 13 so there’s plenty of time for her to expand her taste in wings.

Since we’ve been to GenCon many times with the girls, it’s a bit like coming home. We have our favorite restaurants like Scotty’s Brewhouse with nerdy movies playing on every television and daily GenCon dice to collect. Then there’s Harry and Izzy’s, which is all fancy pants and has the best shrimp cocktail ever. If you decide to go, please note, when they say the cocktail sauce is hot they are not kidding. This year, we added Primanti Bros. to the list because my family is from the ‘Burgh and yunz have no idea what you’re missing if you haven’t had their sammiches. (Pittsburghese, it’s a thing.)

You need good eats so you can head back into the convention center and play games for as long as you can keep your eyes open. There’s nothing quite so cool as walking through the doors and seeing nothing but tables set up for as far as the eye can see. It looks like miles, it probably isn’t, but it will feel that way to your feet by the time GenCon is over. Once you do decide you can’t walk a single step more and it’s time to head back to your hotel, the gaming follows you.

All those couches and chairs that are usually full of people waiting around are instead full of gamers. They rearrange the furniture into little pods around tables and break out their latest score from the vendor hall. You can often join in, but even if it’s full, onlookers are welcome to join the fun.

Our Epic Family Road Trip to GenCon

These are gamers and they’re excited about games. That means they want to play and they want to share why this game, the one right here in front of you, is the one you simply must go back and buy tomorrow. Unless it’s one of the hot games of the convention and then you may have to wait until you’re home at your local game store in the near future. You can always try to be first in line the next day, just be prepared to fight the good fight to make it to that booth. (We don’t really mean fight. Walk with a great sense of urgency, but don’t push and shove. Everyone hates that guy.)

Along with all the gaming there’s the cosplay, which was as good as ever. There were great individual efforts and a few group cosplays that were simply amazing. I particularly liked the Star Trek Pon Farr crew. This year they had the parade go outside, which made it much easier to see. It’s always fun to see people dressed like it’s Halloween wandering around city streets like it’s no big deal.

The only thing that made this year’s GenCon not quite so good was not having the whole family. We truly missed our oldest and know she was sad she couldn’t make it, too. Hopefully next year the stars align and we can all make it again, but the kids are getting older. There are only so mnay years when they’ll both be home.

If you’re taking your wee little kid dressed as a princess or a ninja or Spider-man, treasure that time with them. GenCon passes quickly, but your kids grow up even faster.


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