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Subject: For non-US/Europeans, Essen or GenCon? rss

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Jon
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I'm planning a trip to a convention next year but was looking for opinions from the hivemind:

Given we'll be flying for miles anyway (so travel time isn't really an overriding factor) Which convention do people recommend, GenCon or Essen?

The current thinking is to go to Essen but we're not set in stone really.
 
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Vincent
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I have never been to Gen Con, but there are couple of differences:
- I believe Gen Con goes on 24h/day, Spiel closes at 19.00. There might be gaming in hotels, but nothing like Gen Con.
- There are more places to play at Gen Con. Also, it's better organized (playing a game). At Spiel there are a couple of tables and if one is free you're lucky.
- I believe there are more new games released at Spiel. So if you just want to purchase games, Spiel might be more interesting.
- Spiel might be more Euro minded and Gen Con more ameritrash, but I think this line is fading.
- If you're going to travel afterwards, Europe is totally different than the U.S. This might influence your choice. I think if you only have one extra day, Essen and surroundings might be more interesting.
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Gerald Rüscher
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Essen. Hands down.

First of all it is larger by a factor of 2-3 (2015: GenCon ~61.000 visitors, Essen ~160.000) Secondly there is a much broader range of games of publishers at Essen. 2016 will be the first year where we'll see more than 1.000 publishers presenting new games.

Both events are very international. As a native English speaker you'll have no problems here.
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Jon
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I grew up in the UK and learnt German at school, (though it is VERY rusty) so I can muddle through in German too
 
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N. P. P.
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gruescher wrote:
First of all it is larger by a factor of 2-3 (2015: GenCon ~61.000 visitors, Essen ~160.000)

I don't think that's actually true; for GenCon that's unique visitors, while for Essen it's a turnstile like way of counting. As far as the crowd goes, I believe they are fairly close in size.

I have never been to GenCon, but I'd choose Essen anyway. The one thing I think GenCon has got going for it over Essen is that there is more gaming going on, while at the convention in Essen there are only demo games. However, I wouldn't be inclined to travel halfway around the world just to do the same thing I do at home on a regular basis. The number of publishers and games being released gives Essen the edge.
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Luka Kovač Plavi
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I will challenge you on that. I am at gencon right now and having a really hard time finding people to play with outside of the convention. In esse it was never a problem.

Gencon is also 120$ and essen around 30$. Plus also for gencon u need to spend more for event tickets. Essen is almost exclusively boargames while here ive seen a lot of magic players.

Essen hands down
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Kaarin Engelmann
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Choosing a convention depends a lot upon what you want to accomplish and your activities around the convention.

Thus, your choice could be determined by where you want to tour afterwards, which one your friends will be attending, whether you are more interested in playing games or purchasing games.

If you want to attend a games trade show, I'd say Essen.

If you want to attend a convention for playing games, probably neither--and something like the World Boardgaming Championships would be better.

I've been to Essen a couple of times, and it is worthwhile to see really different games. I can't stay longer than about 1.5 days, though, because of the number of people. I'm a fly in early in the week to visit with friends/tour, help them set up their booth Wednesday night, shop and play on Thursday, and get out of town on Friday mid-day kind of girl

I haven't been to GenCon for enough years that my memories don't count--but I'll probably visit this coming year and can give you feedback then
 
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Sean
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I'm with Kaarin, the crowds at Essen on the Saturday are a bit overwhelming so I look to do the Thursday and Friday only as they are much more relaxed.

The actual gaming in Essen is down to you and your gaming buddies. You'll have to find somewhere to do your gaming post show in the evening. However, this is usually pretty easy as most of the hotels are well prepared to set aside areas for gaming and I find this to be very enjoyable and relaxing after a hard day of investigating at the show.

I'd absolutely love to go to GenCon one day and can't really say if it's better or worse but I can't imagine that it would beat Essen as an experience.

Best of luck and have a good time wherever you choose!
 
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Steve
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Here's a post by someone in Ireland who's been to both:

link

Lord_Nibbler wrote:
Having attended both conventions I can say that it is not fair to compare the fairs as they are completely different. However at this stage I would say GENCON attendance is higher.

ESSEN is just card and boardgames, there might be some stalls with minis and RPGS but is a very small sample of what is there. Imagine having a massive vendor hall and then another and another... That is ESSEN in a nutshell, no extra activities everything happens between 10AM (doors open) and 6PM (Doors close) no additional rooms for demos (most of them unscheduled, first come first served) happening at the vendor's booth, also there are no official events organised for playing outside the fair.

One of the halls holds the European Comic Action (sort of a very watered down comic con) with lots of anime and comic related items and there is another hall for LARPS with foam weapons, leather items and lovely mead to buy and drink.

Most gamers that stay in hotels will play their purchases in hotel meeting rooms until late and that goes on every night, hotels welcome this as they serve food and beer. Transport with the U-BAHN is great so you can even stay away from the fair grounds and travel fairly cheaply around the city.

GENCON has a complete different feel, you can pre-book your games, there are RPGS, Mimiature, CCGS so many tournament, a game library, game rooms... I miss that in ESSEN, big time. There is more diversity and lots of activities you can do like the films, the authors, the podcasting, artist corner even the little kids corner I thought it was such a great idea.

One thing about GENCON is great for getting the game in English, I had acquired a couple of games more dependant on text than I thought and working out translation can be problematic, but publishers have gotten better and better at making the games language independent.
 
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Sean
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Good to hear from someone who's done both but I'm slightly confused as to how they can tell which one has the highest attendance.
 
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Chris Funk
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Gen Con and Origins use unique attendees numbers. That's individual badges purchased. 61,000 people buy a badge? Attendance is 61,000.

Essen uses turnstyle. That means number of people on each day, unique or otherwise. If one person comes for four days, it counts as four visitors. That 160,000 turnstyle can technically be as low as 40,000 unique. Last year, I believe the unique for Essen was around 50,000 and Gen Con surpassed that for the first time with ~57,000.
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Steve
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I mentioned it in that other thread. Gen Con's turnstile attendance last year was 197,695.

http://www.gencon.com/press/2015postshow
 
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Sean
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Thanks for the breakdown, really interesting.

I was actually responding to this and wondeing how Lord_Nibbler could tell just by attending but glad to hear the stats.

stevepop wrote:
Here's a post by someone in Ireland who's been to both:

link

[q="Lord_Nibbler"]Having attended both conventions I can say that it is not fair to compare the fairs as they are completely different. However at this stage I would say GENCON attendance is higher.q]

 
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I think it really depends on if you want to go to a trade fair or a game convention. They are not the same thing. Essen is a trade fair. It's all dealers hall, demos and shopping. Gen Con is also that (though the dealers hall is substantially smaller), but also has 24 hour gaming spread across 8 hotels and the convention center.

Essen is likely to be cheaper, but its only open 9 hours a day, compared to 24 hours.

Here is the list of events at this years Gen Con outside the dealers area (i.e., the primary difference between the two events):

http://gencon.eventdb.us/

Gen Con also requires more planning than Essen. Essen you can just show up. At GC, if you want to participate in events and open gaming you need to purchase tickets and do extensive planning in advance.
 
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