Indianapolis hosts a lot of conventions. A LOT. As someone who lives and works downtown and has to fight the traffic and dodge pedestrians every time the Future Farmers of America come to town, I don’t always love this aspect of my city’s tourism culture. But this past weekend? That one is the best.
GenCon makes me smile every single year. If you aren’t familiar, GenCon is a gaming convention that attracts almost 50,000 awesome people to Indy every summer. They game all day (and all night) for 4 straight days. They wear amazing costumes and stay in character all weekend. They drink more Mountain Dew than I do, which is impressive. They have more fun in 4 days than some people have all year. And they just make downtown such an exciting place to be.
While I don’t usually attend the actual Con (you may remember my shameful lack of gaming skills), I do still plan my days around it. A friend and I do an annual “people watching” lunch where we pick a restaurant right in the heart of the activity and soak up the atmosphere for a couple of hours. This year I even managed to have a couple of things I needed to get done at work that involved venturing out of the office during the day on Thursday. Next year I’ll be sure to come up with more.
I’m not naïve so I know that not everyone in Indy gets as excited about this as I do. Last year I was listening to a local radio station on GenCon weekend and an especially cranky caller was complaining about all the “losers” in town getting in his way. I thoroughly enjoyed the host’s immediate and emphatic response that the caller must be pretty cool if he’s qualified to call 50,000 people losers. While I know that grouchy caller isn’t alone in his attitude, overall I think the excitement and friendliness of the Con-goers has won just about everyone in the city over at this point.
I love GenCon and view it as the kickoff to my Con season, and one of my absolute favorite things about it is that it means it’s almost time for DragonCon. In less than 2 weeks I will be in Atlanta with roughly 60,000 of my closest friends. I will wait in never-ending lines and cram into gigantic steaming (or freezing, those are the only 2 options) halls to see some my favorite sci-fi and fantasy stars. I will get zero sleep, drink gallons of the previously mentioned Mountain Dew, and probably not eat a vegetable the whole time I’m there. My feet will hurt, I will lose my voice, and I will most likely catch the dreaded “Con crud.” And I fraking can’t wait.
Everyone loves Cons for their own reasons. I know some people love meeting their favorite actors or writers. Others love cosplay or finally finding people to play their favorite games with. For me it’s very simple. For the most part my friends don’t share my interests. They never make me feel bad about my obsessions, though I do have to endure some good-natured teasing on occasion, but they don’t always understand why I love what I love. So that one weekend a year I can meet people who just get it? It’s awesome. I don’t have to justify why I like Battlestar Galactica so much, we can just skip straight to arguing about the finale.
For the record, I will be sporting a costume this year. That was one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, to stop thinking about making a costume and finally just do it. And I did. Sort of. I may have cheated a little. I’m going to dress as Bo from Lost Girl which essentially involves wearing a lot of black, a lot of leather, and a lot of eyeliner. But technically it’s a costume. Baby steps!
Anyone else headed to Atlanta Labor Day weekend? I’d love to hear from you if you are! Maybe we can do an impromptu OneOfUs meetup. (Translation, grab a beer.) You can find me on twitter @fernmays and assuming cell reception/wifi choose to cooperate, I’ll be tweeting all weekend!