One interesting social aspect of the Gathering is...
As the Gathering goes on, I find that I can play fewer and fewer games, and spend more time at long dinners, trips....out....anywhere. Places that aren't in a non-windowed basement ballroom for 8 days.
One highlight is The Guard Tower in Columbus. It has been perhaps two years since I've been in a proper game store. This one is remarkably clean, well stocked, and well worth the trip if you re in the area.
Other trips were to places with air, sunshine, and beer. (Arrogant Bastard Ale is actually reasonably tasty. We had to buy bottles just so we could give one to Friedemann Friese. )