Gen Con 2002: Wednesday

Reported by Neal Sofge

LaGuardia Airport, 9:47 EDT

For the first time this year, gate security doesn't select me for the Special Treatment, and so I get to keep my shoes on all the way onto the plane. Maybe the "scruffy unshaven guy dressed in black" profile is too obvious; any halfway decent GM would hit his players with terrorist nuns or bobby-soxers instead.

Over New York City, 10:20 EDT

I had forgotten how terrifying flying from LaGuardia is. The runways are just a bit too short, the wheels lift just in time for you to avoid ending up in the drink, and then you pull away from the field like a Strike Eagle.

Approach and landing is even more fun, but I'll be so dog tired by then I probably won't notice.

Cleveland Ohio, 12:17 EDT

Cleveland is one of those cities that I only see through the airport (or in this case, airplane) windows. Approaching the gate for the Milwaukee flight, I can see (unsurprisingly) that it's going to be mostly made of gamers, which gives me a genuinely warm feeling. Despite the radical changes the hobby's gone through in the last decade, it's still home.

A story told by some Gen Con pilgrims from Canada makes me realize that in the current air travel environment we're probably confusing more normals than ever. Security people across the nation must be scratching their heads this week trying to figure out what the hell all these people are doing with their tubes of numbered odd-shaped plastic bits and surprisingly heavy tiny figurines.

En Route to General Mitchell Field, 13:01 EDT

This is one of the smallest jets I've ever been on (an ERJ) and so I can see nearly everyone taking out their safety cards and following along with the flight attendant while she does the usual drill. If there's one thing gamers can do, it's follow instructions; this is the first flight in a long time where I don't bother figuring out who I'm going to have to slug in order to get the emergency exits open.

Such measures prove to be unnecessary, and after a short flight, a cab ride, and some navigational assistance from Marquette staffers I finally find my dorm room.

It's nice enough, with its own bathroom (I had visions of having to wander bleary-eyed down the hall in robe and slippers to take a shower each morning, and actually added those items to my convention pack for this trip). I soon discover, however, that the phone system is some proprietary digital system and won't work with the modem. Curses! I'll just have to post this report when I get home, breaking a two year streak of near-realtime Gen Con photo journalism.