In a good way! It was a good change!
You see, since I didn't preregister for any events and I didn't know about pickup games, I went through the event guide, made a long list of events to try and get into and then tried to get tickets for them.
A plan that didn't work well, by the way. I ended up getting the last event I tried for, a D&D game that was in the last slot of Saturday night. An hour event that ended up running so late that I ended missing my ride back to the dorms where I was staying but that's another story.
After the game, which wasn't bad but I wouldn't remember it if it was it for this next bit, I found out that the DM and two of the players were part of a campaign in Chicago. And, after some more conversation, I found out that it was about five blocks from where I was living at the time.
I had moved to Chicago less than a year earlier and only knew a couple folks. I got an invitation to join their campaign and spent over ten years playing with those guys. To this day, I stay in touch and even game online with some of them. They ended up becoming a big part of my life and good friends.
As I said earlier, even if I had never gone to another Gen Con, that one convention had a lasting impact on my gaming and my life. Of course, I ended up going to most of the rest with those guys, as well as other friends.