My social media feeds are telling me that Gen Con is this weekend, and I was like, what, is it Gen Con already? The Greatest Four Days in Gaming (TM) snuck up on me like a ninja, which just says a lot about my engagement with the gaming world these days. To be honest, it makes me sad. I loved Gen Con. Even if I wasn’t going, I loved that Gen Con was going on and I’d get to live vicariously through the barrage of social media posts. And if I was lucky to be going? Forget it, I was giddy as a child, openly grinning from the moment I hit the airport to head out to Indy. But now Gen Con sneaks up on me with just a couple days’ heads-up because I feel like I live in a different world.
The last time I went to Gen Con, back in 2014, I felt like an outsider and it was a terrible feeling. I was able to drive to Indy since I was living in Cincinnati, but I had to work the weekend, so I was there only from late Wednesday until midday Friday, and based on how I felt while I was there, I don’t know I would’ve made it through the whole weekend. Yes, I saw my friends, the close ones and the ones I only get to see at Gen Con, I got to walk the Exhibitor Hall and saw lots of cool stuff, I even got to demo a couple of games, but I did all this by myself because as fun as it was to be at Gen Con, I felt like I didn’t belong there anymore. Part of that had to do with my emotional state at the time dealing with an overwhelming loneliness and feeling of isolation which I carried into the con with me, but part was the fact that I couldn’t connect with the hobby. It all felt alien.
I have truly fond memories of past Gen Cons, and as I said, it saddens me that I don’t feel that way anymore. For better or worse, Gen Con now is such a huge beast of a convention, taking over all of downtown Indianapolis, encompassing virtually every form of hobby gaming under the sun, creating a place where, if you’re not hooked into a pre-existing community already, you can find yourself isolated in the middle of an overwhelming crowd. I’m glad that Gen Con has grown so much, I am, it’s good for the hobby and the industry, but there was a cost.
I find myself missing the experience of Gen Con. I have no desire to attend this year, but I would like to feel like I want to attend in the future. Even if I’m doing my own little weird gaming thing on my own, I wanna feel like Gen Con is a place where even I could find a place to belong. And yes, I’m aware that on the one hand I’m saying that I don’t mind not being in touch with the community because it gives me freedom to do my own thing, and on the other hand I want to, essentially, find a community where I can belong. I’m a complex person.
I want to be excited about Gen Con again, so I’ll be making a conscious effort. I will be following social media hashtags to see what’s going on in Indy, what looks interesting, what to look forward to. I will remember my great experiences of Gen Cons past, and celebrate those who are celebrating their love of games. Maybe next year I will feel like Gen Con is a place where I can belong again.
Can’t make it to Gen Con and want your own Gen Can’t badge? Click on the link below to get your own!
Gen Can’t 2018 Badge Generator by David “Brain Clouds” Flor