I finally managed to experience GenCon last week, if only for a day. I had absolutely no idea what to expect... I'd seen the videos of GenCon Indy of course, but I couldn't imagine the UK version of the convention being anything like that. In the end, though, it was like it, albeit much smaller, and without the ability to play the World of Warcraft expansion or get arrested by Klingons. Damn. :(
We were just there for a day so didn't get up to much, but we did manage to try out the upcoming PS3 CCG/video-game hybrid Eye of Judgment, which uses a fixed camera to monitor the action on the board and play CGI animations on-screen to reflect the action (very impressed, but not enough to entice me into buying a PS3). Other highlights included a demo of the Order of the Stick board game (absolutely mega, and none left in the Trade Hall for us to pick up :( ), and the Wizards 4e 'Announcement' which was enjoyable for the simple fact of being there, if not for the ridiculously hostile crowd. Kudos to Bruce Cordell for coming all the way only to have questions like, "When will 5th Edition be out?" thrown at him. Oh, and it was from that event that we got our only free swag - a 4ed t-shirt - although I did manage to pick up the Gargantuan Blue Dragon for barely seven quid after a discount token, over and above the protests of my wife and best mate (both of whom play in my campaigns, heheh).
Overall it was a great day. It felt refreshingly weird to sit in a cafe and discuss D&D just two tables down from a guy staggering under the weight of the Colossal Red Dragon, two tables across from a guy reading a tired-looking copy of Song and Silence, while catching wafts of passing conversation along the lines of, "No, the mage gets that spell at ninth level."
Next year I'll almost certainly look into attending the whole Con and maybe even running a game or two. Of those I met, some of them were inept, a few of them smelled (but not many), some couldn't take a hint to be quiet and play the game dammit, and a couple more were just plain odd... but they were my people, man.