I get to go to Gen Con this year!
This is the first time I've ever gotten to go. Why now? It's as good of a time as any; what sweetened the pot this year is that there will be a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons being released, and Gen Con will probably be the first major opportunity people get to look at the final product.
I have signed up to run some Dungeons & Dragons sessions, and I'll be running some 13th Age as well. I wasn't sure about running sanctioned 13th Age but some of the scenarios they had to choose from sound intriguing, so I hope to give the players a good time. In addition to running RPGs I plan to play some RPGs, see what board and card games are coming for the holiday season, and hopefully make some new friends.
Here's what I've learned so far about running games at Gen Con, from persuing judges forums and reading various gaming blogs:
Hard copies are king
If you are running games, expect to have to use printed copies of the source material. This includes rulebooks, sourcebooks and adventure scenarios. The convention center can't support everyone running their games off of laptops and tablets, so unless you know your device will last for 3-4 hours of heavy use, don't try it.
Plan to have very little prep time for the games you're running
The scenarios that are being run at Gen Con have to be written and (hopefully) playtested, and that takes time. With Wizards of the Coast working on rolling out a new edition of D&D, I'm going to assume that adventures will be given out only a few weeks before the convention. (One story I heard about a previous Gen Con had them were literally printing them out at the convention!)
If I get them early enough I might be able to do a test run-through with some gamer friends, but I should expect to be winging it. This means I may not be bringing miniature or maps with me, depending on when I get the scenarios. The new edition of D&D will be easier to run without combat without tactical maps, and 13th Age makes it fairly easy as well from what I've seen.
Let the convention staff deal with trouble
This was one of my biggest concerns: how do I deal with exceptionally offensive or disruptive players? The convention will have my back. I can give them a couple of warnings, and after that I can notify the organizers.
This may become a recurring feature on the blog as Gen Con gets closer. If you're going, look for me there!