Quick Gen Con report

by Gil Hova

I’ve just come back from my first Gen Con! It was absolutely amazing.

Here are some quick, scattered thoughts:

  • I always used to avoid Gen Con because it seemed like it focused on roleplaying games, CCGs, and thematic or take-that board games. And there’s nothing wrong with those kinds of games, but they’re not really my thing.

    But when I was there, board games of all stripes were everywhere. I’d say the con was 50% board games (including plenty of those crunchy Euros I love), and 50% everything else. I heard a few industry vets note how much the con (and gaming in general) has tilted towards board gaming in the past few years.

  • I’m used to game groups and smaller regional conventions, where it takes some serious arm-twisting to get people to play new games. It’s only cons like BGG.CON and the Gathering of Friends where I get to play with folks willing to try new games. I was expecting Gen Con to be full of people who would rather play established games.

    I was wrong again! Gen Con is where people go specifically to try new games. I had no problem getting people to try Battle Merchants.

  • I ran four Battle Merchants events in a tournament plus a final. I got a total of ten people across all those events, plus two people who came to the last full event without a ticket. I also ran two impromptu demos for four extra people.

    That’s 16 people total across two days of events. It wouldn’t be bad for a 500-person con, but I think I can do better at a 50,000+ person event.

    Meanwhile, I had to briefly set up the game at the BGG booth in Gen Con’s massive exhibit hall on Sunday for a demo livestreamed on the internet. I got the game ready on a table next to the video area, so I could just carry it over when I needed to. During those 30 minutes I had the game set up, I had five people come up and ask me about the game.

    Sadly, Minion Games had no booth this year, so the only demo presence the game had was in the gaming hall, which didn’t get as much foot traffic.

    So: I will have a booth at Gen Con next year! It’s the best way to guarantee that my games will get exposed to as many gamers as possible.

  • I did video demos for three vloggers. I already mentioned the BGG livestream, but I also did videos for Spooning Meeples and Game and a Curry. I’m really looking forward to seeing them online!
  • I met a ton of people I only know through the internet, and they all turned out to be fantastic!
  • Also, I got to briefly say hi to a guy I know from college, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 20 years. This was back in 1993; we both had long hair and watched Doctor Who (which was unusual in those pre-timey-wimey days). He taught me Magic: The Gathering back then.

    We’ve both been busy since then; I worked in film, then tech, and got into board game design. Meanwhile, he co-founded Paizo Publishing. It’s so great to see people I know being successful!

  • I finally saw the game The Emperor’s New Clothes in action. It’s really gotten me thinking about the academics of game playing (what Suits called the “lusory attitude” and Huzeniga called “the magic circle”). I would love to write about it in a future post.
  • My gods, the cosplay was incredible.
  • The Indiana Convention Center is right next to Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. On the Saturday of Gen Con, a bunch of football fans in Colts jerseys wandered into the ICC, and found themselves amongst a bunch of nerds dressed as Deadpool and drow elves. You’d think this would become a nasty scene, but I saw some of the football fans asking for photos with the cosplayers. It was really great to see.
  • I have some big plans. I talked to some people at the con who also have big plans. 2015 is going to be a very interesting year…