So, the world’s largest hobby gaming convention is currently going on right now. And I’m not there. Essen Internationalen Spieltage. Or, simply Essen, for short. The show is conveniently named for the city it takes place in: Essen, Germany. That goes a long way in explaining why I’m not there – in that it’s a long ways away. To be exact, Essen is 4,389.4 miles from where I live. It is simply cost and time prohibitive for me to attend.
Having said that, I’m not sure I’d attend even if I had more adequate resources to do so. Sure, Essen is THE gamer’s gaming place to be. No doubt, it is the most influential and commercial of all of the industry’s events. And yes, there will be innumerable things to do and hot new releases and insider information and great sales and nearly 150,000 fellow gamers! But that’s all too much for me.
I prefer the smaller, generally regional conventions and gatherings with less hustle and bustle. There’s a greater chance to do what you want and when. There’s more opportunity to meet one-on-one with game designers and publishers. Cost isn’t sky-high, access isn’t crazy, schedules aren’t overwhelming, elbows aren’t jabbing, and they smell better, too. Furthermore, the big conventions are rather irrelevant for me. I’m not a card carrying member of the “Cult of the New.” And new releases, of which there are far too many for me to keep track of and let alone buy, are a central focus of Essen and other big shows. I’m not even that keen on GenCon and Origins, the American counterparts to Essen (though still not nearly as large). But given their geographic proximity to me, it is an option I will always keep open if it ever becomes available. I’m not arguing it wouldn’t be a good experience. I’m just too laid back to press it.
What about you? Ever been to, or plan on attending, Essen? Do you think it’s personally worth all the hype? What about other big conventions? If so, which ones are accessible and worth the effort? Or is your gaming life content with less grander fare?