…Yes, conventions – and why you should attend!

gencon-2016-logoSome people spend massive effort, almost like an addiction, to attend gaming conventions (or “Cons” for short). They save all year long to go to as many as they can, especially the major Cons because of all they can see and do. They play many games they can’t play or don’t get the chance to play at home.

Some people never attend Cons. They do not see them as worth the effort or are just too busy with their normal, everyday, non-gamer lives.

Both are viable points of view. But here are some reasons why you might want to attend a local Con, even if it is not a major Con like GenCon.

Big Cons have something always going on.

Image from the 2014 GenCon from Geek Dad (Link)

Image from the 2014 GenCon from Geek Dad (Link)

Let’s face it – it would be very interesting to see a big Con. I have friends who have been to GenCon at least 3 times. I would guess that some have been at least 10 times or more if I kept track of the number of stories. The stories are pretty darn cool. New people, old friends, demos of new games, playing old games not able to for years, new scenarios or modules for games people are playing, buying …stuff! The stories are not getting bigger each year, but the number of events to attend are. And it goes on. They are spectacles that give you little time for sleep.

For some people, the volume and the lines are enough to scare them away.

Local Cons have something the big ones do not.

Local Conventions are usually easier to attend no matter what your schedule is. Let’s face it – many people are too busy with work at the times that some of the major conventions are happening. But unless you are out of town for a wedding, you should be able to book a little time off to attend a local con.

regina-fan-expo-logoYou can eat at home or out, but budget planning is not as big an issue when you go to a major Con. And who does not like the idea of having that option. A home cooked meal is always a bonus.

Travel is also less of an issue typically because it is in your locale. You can get up for the 9:00 AM start times even if you go to bed at 2:00 AM. Well ok, leave the Con location at that time because that is when they shut down. Sleeping in your own bed is a godsend. You don’t have to worry if other people you might be sharing a room with snore. The probable maximum 35-minute drive time between your home and the convention site is a great thing. I have a 10-minute drive if it is the GAXCon here in Moose Jaw. When I go to the Regina Fan Expo is it an hour away. But that is in another city nearby.

Your friends will probably be able to go as they can play with their work schedules as well. And for all the same reasons as you! Reduced cost of travel makes it so much easier to plan and budget for it.

Sure, they won’t be as many demos of new games, or all the extra show, pomp, and circumstance. But there will be less volume, fewer lines, and a much more personal feel.

Which is the choice for you? Think about the Olympics… (huh?)

The only one that can answer that really is you, but I think you should try to attend both. By doing so you are essentially entering the Olympics of the genre.

Now you may be wondering what game conventions and the Olympics have in common, but it’s not too much of a stretch if you think about it. After all, locally are there provincial or state games. Then there are the national games for your country. Then there are the summer and winter world Olympic games.

garycon-logoYou can tie the Conventions to a similar seasonal approach. GenCon is in the summer and GaryCon is in the winter. There are many more Conventions to note, but I am only using a few examples.

At Conventions you see people on their A-game. Designers of modules and scenarios in general have plans for playtesting before they consider they releasing them further into the public. New seasons for game series start and sessions get a showcase. This gives people a jumpstart to the new season and builds hype for the upcoming games. Those lucky enough to go to GenCon have seen the start of the new Adventurer’s League season dealing with Storm Kings’ Thunder a whole month before most people will have a chance. That is a pretty darn cool perk.

Moose Jaw has two GAXCon’s – Summer and Winter. I love the fact they are in my backyard essentially and the venue is 10 minutes away from my house. Anywhere in the city is a 15-minute drive – maximum.

In my province, we also have the Regina Fan Expo is in spring and Saskatoon Fan Expo in autumn. These are pretty big Cons due to the amount of stuff going on and they are an hour and 2 & ¼ hours away respectively. There are stars, seminars, serious cosplayers, authors, and so much more happening.

One province away, in Alberta, there are Cons in Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary had a day of D&D Adventurer’s League during the early spring this year. Edmonton has Intrigue Con late this fall on October 14th to 16th.

I could go on about the Cons in other areas of the world. This is just meant to encourage you to look around. And look into them.

Final thoughts

I encourage you to find, budget, plan, and attend a Convention. See what is at each to pique your interest.

Think about coming to Moose Jaw sometime for one of our Cons here. We might just surprise you too!

If you can attend this weekend let me know and I will see what I can do to help you out. If you are reading this and have not seen any advertising you probably are not from the area.

The Winter GAXCon is in February if you want to plan ahead!

Clear skies fellow GM’s and players – until next time!

Keith R. Byers, A.Sc.T., Esq.


Here are a few links to the conventions listed:

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