If you go to only one event in the city each year, forget about the Indy 500 and buy a weekend pass for GenCon. The event started as a gathering of a dozen extreme gamers in some dude’s living room in the 60‘s and expanded (or rather exploded) into a multi-million dollar exposition for the best and brightest in modern gaming. And when I say “Gamers,” I mean dudes who play Risk or Dungeons and Dragons or Live Action Role Playing (or LARPing), not dudes who sit around playing Halo all day (although I’m sure there’s plenty of cross-over).
- Sara Baldwin
- GenCon: "I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide, I've got 12 sided die..."
Gencon is a massive, sprawling four-day excuse for the gaming industry to flex its muscles. If you think back to high school and remember the awkward geeks who played Magic: The Gathering in the cafeteria during lunch, you may get a good laugh, but the awkward geeks who work in the gaming industry are laughing all the way to the bank. The 28,000 attendees of this year’s GenCon are prepared to spend big bucks this weekend.
As I made my way downtown with photographer buddy Sara Baldwin, I noticed more and more gamers on the sidewalks the closer I got to the Convention Center. Some truly stood out with long, flowing trench coats (questionable in the crippling heat), long, flowing ponytails and garish costumes. Others, however, are not so obvious. Middle-aged men clad in polo shirts and cargo shorts are exposed as gamers only by their GenCon name tags that hung from their necks and their Yu-Gi-Oh! tote bags that hung at their sides.
- Sara Baldwin
- GenCon: Now THAT'S a merch booth...
The Convention Center swarmed like an overstimulated ant hill as gaggles of giddy gamers poured in for registration. The gamers themselves came from all over the continent. As we attempted to get our bearings, I was assisted by a helpful volunteer from Ottawa who has attended 15 GenCons. She talked about how much she enjoyed GenCon when it was held in Milwaukee, but how much better Indianapolis was for the event. “Everything is within walking distance!” she beamed! As a Naptown native, it was sure nice to hear an out-of-towner say something nice our fair city.
After registering, we walked around to try to get a feel for the event. Our brains nearly melted in our heads as our eyeballs whizzed back and forth in an attempt to take in all the lavish booths and fantastic costumes. The costumes themselves are worth the $45-per-day fee. Immediately after leaving the registration room, we spotted an attractive young woman rocking a Hitler Youth uniform...with cat ears. We had no idea what was going on, but as we kept walking, we saw mostly Steam Punk kids, with their alternate universe 19th century garb, ninjas and even a few Links!
Day one was an absolute blast, and all we really did was register! I cannot wait for day two...
- Sara Baldwin
- GenCon: Up the (Steam) Punx