For the un-initiated, GenCon is quite possibly THE biggest gaming convention in the USA. Gamers gather for four days to attend seminars and workshops, but mostly they come for the games. There’s rooms dedicated to all sorts of different games. There’s a giant ballroom for Tabletop Games like Settlers of Catan, or Car Wars. There’s numerous rooms for TCG (Trading Card Games) or CCG (Collectible Card Games) like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh. There’s rooms and events dedicated to Role-Playing like the True Dungeon or Live Action Role-Playing events. Pretty much anywhere you go in the Indianapolis downtown area during these four days is going to filled with gamers gaming. Or just participating in some sort of gaming related hobby, like painting miniatures. GenCon also has a gigantic exhibitors hall where vendors and game companies alike sell their wares, artists display their work and Convention Guests of Honor have booths for autographs.
I’ve been a gamer for many years, but haven’t ever been able to make it to GenCon. This is my first year, and today was my first day. On top of trying to take in everything that is the gaming mecca, I managed to fit in a few interviews* with a few of the Online or Electronic Gaming Companies. This morning started off very early, I signed up for the GenCon Orientation Tour at 8am. For 45 minutes, a very nice GenCon staffer took me and a small group of other newcomers around the Convention Center to learn the ins-and-outs of GenCon and the rooms associated with different types of gaming.
Press and Trade Day individuals were allowed in an hour this morning before the main exhibit hall opened, so I managed to schedule an interview during that time, so I could spend some one-on-one time with a FunCom developer for Eidos who is working on the Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures MMORPG. Roughly about the time the masses were making their way into the exhibit hall, I was walking to my second interview, this time with CEO of Seven Lights and creator of the new Online Collectible Wargame, The Continuum. I got a brief demonstration of the game as well as plenty of time to talk to CEO Tim Harris about the game and community.
At noon, I attended a Press Conference with Peter Adkison (CEO of GenCon) where he announced the promotion of Adrian Swartout, former Director of Sales and Marketing, as the new head of GenCon, so that he can spend more time on his Hidden City Games endeavor. Ben Banner, a representative from the City of Indianapolis also spoke during this event talking about the effect of the convention on the city and surrounding businesses. It was especially nice to hear him speak positively about the convention and talk about growing with the convention as it grows over the years.
I briefly had some time afterwards to browse the exhibit hall and wander through Artist Alley before making my way to my next event, a seminar on Self-Publishing Role-Playing Games. The panelists were many popular designers in the Indie RPG arena, several of which are popular at The Forge, a well-known Indie gaming forum.
At 6:30pm, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) made an official announcment about the May 2008 release of the Dungeons and Dragons 4.0 Players Handbook. Liz Schuh spoke earlier in the day at the press conference with Peter Adkison about 2008 also being the 25th anniversary for the Dragonlance world based on the popular novels. D&D fans should also look for a revamped version of that to come out late next year.
After a late dinner with friends, my long first day at GenCon is drawing to a close. I’m overwhelmed, but still excited for more gaming fun. I can’t wait to actually get into some of the games I’ve signed up for (and even some I didn’t) this weekend.
* I’ll be submitting articles about my individual interviews. There’s more to each game than I could possibly sum up in a re-cap like this. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get some of the people I’ve met with to send along some more ‘official’ statements or answers to questions we glossed over while playing the game.