GenCon 45

The forty-fifth GenCon, the 2012 incarnation of the world's largest gaming convention, was held at the Indiana Convention Center and several nearby hotels in downtown Indianapolis over the weekend of August 16-19, 2012. Because we were helping with the manga library in Anime Alley at the Westin, we had to go downtown on Wednesday to pick up our badges and touch base on scheduling for our work shifts in the manga library. There was some rather intense discussion of the logistics of simultaneously maintaining good security on the materials and patron access to the collection.

After that we headed over to the Convention Center to pick up program books. This year they didn't have the nice swag bags, just coupon books, but we went ahead and got them too. We were hoping for some coupons for local restaurants, but they were all for various sellers in the dealers' room.

Then we headed back to Anime Alley to touch base one last time before heading home. I needed to get a story sent in before the deadline at midnight, and there were some things that needed to be taken care of for our online bookselling business.

Thursday morning we got up early so we'd have time to take a look at the dealers' room before reporting for work at the manga library. I saw some people I remembered from last year, and met some new people. At least this year I had new business cards with my current contact information, but I'm wondering if it would be good at this sort of event to also have cards for my book reviewing site, separate from my personal ones.

After walking around for a while, we decided it was time for lunch and headed over to Steak and Shake. After an excellent meal, we emerged to a very dark sky which looked as if it could start storming at any moment. So we hurried back to the convention center to get under cover, and decided to return to the dealers' room for a while before heading to Anime Alley.

Our shift went fairly smoothly, except for one brief moment of excitement when somebody went to return their book only to find their badge wasn't waiting for them. Apparently somebody else had checked out the book right next to it, and had grabbed the wrong badge. Fortunately that person realized their mistake a few minutes later and returned, but it made for some awkward moments.

After that shift we made a brief visit to the dealers' room before heading over to Circle Center Mall to get supper at the food court. After supper we sat in the convention center and rested before our evening work shift. I was able to finish a book review and make a good start on another.

Our evening shift at the manga library was pretty quiet, except for the cold front going through the city. It brought heavy rains and some seriously wicked lightning, which meant we were wondering how we were going to get home when we needed to walk almost a mile to our vehicle. We finally decided to take advantage of a break in the weather at the end of our shift, but we only got as far as the Circle when the rain picked up again. Because we had only one small umbrella between us, I continued to the van by myself while my husband waited under the awning for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. By the time I drove back to pick him up, the rain was coming down pretty hard. At least we were able to get home without too much anguish, but there was no way I could retrieve a book from our storage unit to ship.

By Friday morning the rain had moved out of the area, leaving wet grass and puddles as the only signs of its passage. We headed back downtown, more than a little surprised that it was getting so warm so quickly after the previous night's temperature drop.

sculpture at one of the gaming company exhibitsWe headed for the dealers' room, where my husband wanted to find a game he'd seen demonstrated the previous day. We weren't able to find that company's booth, but he did find one he found interesting enough to spend some time playing.. So I headed off to a local sub shop to get our lunch while he played.

At noon we were to start our shift at the manga library, so we had just enough time to get lunch eaten before we opened. The shift went quietly, without unpleasant surprises, and I was able to make some reasonable progress on a book review.

Then it was time for my panel, "Liked the Manga, Love the Anime -- or Not." This was a reprise of the panel I originally did at InConJunction, although I had a larger audience this time around. At first I was worried that I wasn't connecting with them, but after a while things began to click and people would offer examples from their reading and viewing.

Afterward we talked with one of my brothers, who had won a GenCon badge in a drawing and who decided to visit my presentation. We got to talking about the problem of the heavy hand of the author in alternate history fiction, especially when it damages the willing suspension of disbelief.

Then my husband and I had a little time to relax before our second shift in the manga library. I did some more work on the book reviews while we were there.

After the end of our shift we went over to the mall to get supper at the food court. Then we went back to the convention center to see the zombie parade, but either we missed it or it was held later than we wanted to stay. I needed to get books in the mail, since Thursday night's storms had made the task impossible then and I was running out of time to make my fulfillment window.

On Saturday morning we stopped by the post office to drop off the books before heading downtown. We'd planned to stop at a sub shop on the Circle and pick up our lunch to eat later, but they hadn't opened yet when we came through. So we went ahead to the convention center and looked at more of the dealers' room before heading back to the sub shop for lunch. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the manga library for our shift.

We ended up at Anime Alley a little early, and I got pulled into the Anime Tropes panel discussion. It was great fun, but I wish I'd known ahead of time, because I could've made sure to be there at the beginning and to have spent some time familiarizing myself with tropes peculiar to manga and anime.

After that, we settled in at the manga library to do our shift. Things were pretty quiet, and there were some times when I was fighting sleep in spite of two cans of caffeinated pop and an energy shot. But we got through, and decided to go ahead and have supper as soon as our shift ended.

As it turned out, it was a wise choice, since Steak and Shake was so busy they were taking longer than normal to prepare orders. In addition to GenCon, there was also a motorcycle group in town, which meant that all the eateries were hard-pressed to keep up with the crowd. However, by some weird coincidence my brother and his friends were seated at the table right behind us, so we got to visit a little before he needed to head back home.

Afterward, we headed back to the manga library for our shift. I was still struggling to fight off sleep, but I did manage to get some work done on a book review. When we headed home, we took a more northerly route back to the van in hopes of avoiding the crowds on the Circle, but the constant din of hundreds of motorcycle engines made it hard to talk or even think.

On Sunday we headed downtown for the last day of the con. Because we knew that time would be tight and we wanted to get some time in the dealers' room before the start of our shift, we took some packaged Asian noodle meals with us that we could prepare right before the start of our shift. We finally saw a number of dealers' booths that we'd just glimpsed on earlier visits, but I still don't know if we got everything. The crowd was just too thick to move through easily.

Then it was time to head over to Anime Alley for our final shift in the manga library. This time I was able to stay awake enough to finish two book reviews and get about halfway through a third. I might have finished it as well, but then my Treo's battery got so low that I didn't want to push it any further and risk not having any power left for something important I really needed. So I got out paper and made some notes on a story.

When the manga library closed at the end of the con, we packed up all the books and carried the boxes over to Con HQ to be put into storage for next year. Apparently these books are a distinct collection from the one used at Anime Crossroads, although there may be some overlap in titles, especially the popular ones.

Then we hung around for the dead dog party. Since it wasn't an official GenCon event, but rather a private one for the team that had kept Anime Alley running, we all pooled money to buy the food. Unfortunately there were some failures of communication that resulted in unnecessary Drama and some hard feelings. I hope that it won't result in a decision not to have a dead dog party next year, because the problems could have been avoided quite easily if some essential information had been communicated more clearly.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.