I've been inviting my family to join me at Gen Con for years. This year, they took me up on it.
It's exciting. My brother and father love games, and so it was natural that they'd make the three-hour drive from Chicago to Indianapolis.
Also, here's this awesome web community I kind of help run?
Gen Con is probably one of the more family-friendly cons I've seen. Booths to appeal to all ages, plenty of events to entertain those dragged along to central Indiana by gaming spouses and fortunate significant others, and a blessed minimum of "booth babes."
It's not all super appropriate, of course. I'm sure my father and my teenage brother will have an awkward moment to sort out when they walk past a booth full of hentai posters. And when is it safe to expose a child to the fearsome Utilikilt?
But they're gamers, of the grognard line. They checked in to the hotel, grabbed their passes, and made a line straight for historical miniatures. And Gen Con is the sort of place where two people can wander into a mass of 40,000 people, find a table steeped in layers of geekery, and start playing with strangers.
Then the day's events start to wrap up at the Indiana Convention Center, and — after fighting through another layer of hotel problems (something I hope Gen Con will sort out eventually) — my family gets to meet goodjers.
Downtown Indianapolis transforms for one extended weekend each August. Restaurants hang banners featuring orcs and sword-flashing buccaneers. Menu items get renamed to fit the theme. Hotel lobbies, either intentionally or otherwise, become festooned with draped pirate flags. To me, this transformation is now normal. Maybe to some locals it is, too. To my family, it's a bit strange to see the center of a town with half a million people not just nerd out like this, but actively pander to geeks.
A Gen Con hotel room is an interesting place. Some choose to decorate their rooms with draped flags or posters. GWJ rooms, in my experience, are decorated with stacked towers of board games, a small collection of snacks, and copious amounts of booze.
Did I mention that my brother is 16?
We haven't played Cards Against Humanity yet.
But leaving vulgar games aside, my family has fit in smoothly in a way that I think highlights something special about Gen Con and about GWJ. Within minutes of coming back to our hotel room, everyone has been welcomed in and is playing games. That booze in the corner? My brother proudly declares, between turns in Infinite City, "I'm a teenager; I don't need to drink to act stupid." My dad clawed back in Red Dragon Inn to achieve a respectable finish (though he still, in-character, passed out and was thrown from the inn.) My brother slapped cowboy competitors in the head with a chair in the new High Noon Saloon. Now they're on to Telestrations.
"That could have went so many ways," he declares.
But really, this is always the way it goes. Jolly Bill brought his charming girlfriend, and she's fitting in well. Somewhere over the course of the night, a small crew of aspiring game designers wandered in, claiming friendship with Rob Daviau. They fit right in.
This is how it happens. This is, with few exceptions, how it always happens. At Gen Con and with GWJ, you are welcome.
If you're in town, you should hang with us tomorrow. We'll be at the Tilted Kilt at 6:00pm. ( We were going to be at Weber Grill, but it turns out that too many people want to hang out with us.) Get to the Twisted Kilt early, and snag extra seats for your new friends.