The convention is literally 5 minutes from my front door. Someone give me the run down on exactly what goes on there.
Like do I have to pay to play everything in addition to the convention price?
Just saw your post too late. :( Did you end up going?
If not, basically there are two sections: a giant outdoor tent filled with vendors selling games and game-related merchandise (this is also where the bands play and a couple of tournaments happen), and then the hotel itself, where the convention rooms and hallways are filled to the brim with games to play: arcade games, pinball, and virtually every non-handheld game system ever released. Everything I saw was free to play, though there might have been some exceptions. Lots of tabletop MAME cabinets on display that you can play all you like or buy for ~$600-700. Might pick one of those up next year.
Tickets are only $55 for the full two-day pass, so there's a lot of value. I'd definitely recommend checking it out next year.
There's also the MGC Showcase, which is the showing of local indie games. I went there to showcase my game, but unfortunately ran into some problems on day 1 and didn't get a lot of traffic on day 2, being tucked in the corner of an already low-traffic room. I'll prepare things a little bit differently next year to attract some more attention: bringing an extra screen that continuously plays a trailer of the game would have been a good idea. Ah well.
I ended up buying a really cool Chrono Trigger bead art piece: