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20140508_171116_HDRGenCon is coming up this weekend, at the Indianapolis Convention Center (that kind of flat building at right, visible between those two red towers) here in scenic Indianapolis. Are any of our readers planning on attending? It would be cool to have the chance to meet some of you! I’m highly excited about it; this is the first time I’ll be attending as a resident rather than an out-of-towner. I can bicycle home at the end of the day rather than having to drive a rental car down to my brother’s house. I’m probably going to be around Thursday and Friday afternoons, and then all day Saturday and Sunday.

I’ve already got my eye on a number of panels, and have bought tickets and reserved my space. I’ve mentioned the Writers Symposium before; its schedule is available now (PDF) and you can reserve space in the panels that aren’t sold out by going to the GenCon web site, clicking “Find Events” in the left-hand column, and searching on the code number (listed just below the title, starting with SEM or WKS) associated with the panel. (The panels with special guest Jim Butcher have already sold out, though I’m hopeful I can get into at least one of them.) You could honestly spend all weekend going from writing panel to writing panel and never even venture into the gaming portion of the con.

I highly recommend Michael Stackpole’s panels. They do cost $8 each, but they’re worth every penny. He has some great advice to give. Most other panels are free, but reserving a ticket lets them know how many people to expect.

The “official” GenCon app is a thing of the past (GenCon opted to make its mobile web site better instead), but there are some mobile apps that can make your GenCon experience easier or more fulfilling. There’s an unofficial GenCon Android app that one programmer has put together that looks promising.

And if you like scavenger hunts, check out Cheese Weasel Logistics. Every year they run a scavenger hunt where you take a set of cards around the humongous main exhibit hall of GenCon and get them punched at various independent game publishers’ booths to prove you were there, and then turning it in enters you in a contest drawing. However, Cheese Weasel now has an Android app which you use by scanning QR codes instead. That’s a big improvement!

In the last few months, Indianapolis has implemented a bicycle ridesharing program where you can pay $8 and get 24 hours of time in which you can check out a 3-speed bicycle for 30-minute-or-less downtown trips. You check the bike out from one rack, then turn it in at the same or any other rack in less than 30 minutes to avoid a late fee. (You can check it right back out again if you want to keep on biking.)

It’s a great way to get out and check out the downtown area without having to worry about Indy’s somewhat obnoxious downtown traffic, especially if getting your car out of a parking garage and checking it back in would cost you considerably more than $8 altogether. And there’s an Android and iOS app called Bcycle that will tell you where the nearest bikeshare stations are, how many bikes they have, and how many open slots they have for checking a bike back in. Alternately, if you have a means of bringing your own bike, it might be worth doing. Indianapolis is very bike-friendly in general, with bike trails and lanes all over.

20140508_165723_HDRIndianapolis has plenty of other attractions, too, including a free military history museum (that pyramid-like building in this shot) and an observation tower/monument in the heart of the downtown area (from which I took these shots). And there’s a zoo just southwest of downtown, where a baby tiger was born just a month ago! (I don’t think he’s on display to the public yet, though.)

I hope I’ll see some of you there!

 
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