Gen Con 2009
August 13–16, 2009
I attended Gen Con, from August 13th to 16th, 2009, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gen Con is the largest gaming convention in the country, with over 27,000 unique attendees, and over 7,000 events. In the interests of full disclosure: I do a great deal of volunteer work for Gen Con, running both their Spousal Activity (SPA) program, as well as their Costume workshop program, and their forums.
Although Gen Con is primarily a gaming convention, they have a very strong writing program, with over 70 hours of writing workshops and seminars this year by authors including Mike Stackpole, Jean Rabe, Elizabeth Vaughan, Richard Lee Byers, and Author Guest of Honor Patrick Rothfuss. Other notable author guests in attendance included Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
Highlights from the convention this year included the returning True Dungeon, and the new TerrorWerks event. True Dungeon is a way to play Dungeons and Dragons in a life-size, walk-through environment. A large hotel ballroom is transformed into a “dungeon” complete with realistic props. Each room contains a puzzle to solve, or combat with an enemy, resolved using a unique shuffleboard system. Terrorwerks is an immersive experience in which your team of space marines investigates an alien invasion using air soft guns and other weapons.
Additional highlights included a strong anime schedule, with voice acting guest Vic Mignogna; actual Battletech “pods” used for networked Battletech games (the sort of pods that used to be in entertainment venues such as Dave and Buster’s); my own SPA program with over 90 nongaming events such as jewelry making, crochet, knitting, pilates, and sewing classes; a Victorian LARP held in an actual Victorian museum; and, of course, thousands of gaming events, including Role Playing Games such as 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, card games such as the World of Warcraft Trading Cards, and every board game imaginable. Particularly notable was the wide range of board games from the Rogue Judges group, who also run very popular Car Wars games on a large-scale playing table, complete with roads and actual “matchbox”-sized cars.
In sum, a strong schedule of games, combined with a variety of programming this year, made Gen Con an entertaining convention for the causal or hardcore gamer, with plenty to do for even the nongamer.