Gen Con 2007: Gaming in Indianapolis

Gen Con, founded in 1968, does not refer to international treaties in Switzerland, humanitarian aspects of warfare, or to peacetime disaster relief efforts. It does, however, have something to do with war, war games that is, played at one of the largest gaming conventions in North America. It is a place where players use their wits and strategies to challenge others in their favorite games. Gen Con features every type of event imaginable including card and board games, role-playing, live action, miniatures, video, and computer. Gen Con is not just a gaming arena, however, it is also a venue for manufacturers to introduce and display their new products, bring back the classics, promote tournaments and hobbies, as well as sponsor seminars and workshops.

The idea began in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, with a small group of gamers at the home of Gary Gygax. One year later, 100 people attended the event held at the Lake Geneva Horticultural Hall. Gen Con traveled throughout southern Wisconsin for the next ten years from an American Legion Hall and George Williams College to the Playboy Resort and the University of Wisconsin at Kenosha. In 1985, just over 5,000 gathered for the event at the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center, and Gen Con continued to attract gamers, an estimated 30,000 by 1994. After nine years of sponsorship by the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association, it was taken over by TSR, Inc., the original producer of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Subsequently, ownership was transferred from Wizards of the Coast to Hasbro, and then purchased by Peter Adkison in 2002, who moved it to the Midwest location in 2003. At the time, Gen Con was divided into two, the largest held in Indianapolis, and a smaller one in Anaheim, California, which is now closed.

Many of the games at Gen Con are operated by the Role Playing Game Association (RPGA), where players can create characters to use in a series of live action games at specific events. The largest collectible card game, The Day of Thunder, is a story line and a part of the Legend of the Five Rings. Other events include Cardhalla, where cities are built from cards and players toss coins to destroy them. The coins are then collected and donated to charities. In 1987 a library was added where players could borrow games. True Dungeon, introduced in 2003, focuses on a life-size crawl-through game, resembling a D&D scene. Familiar games and new ones are brought to the event each year; however, Dawn Patrol remains the only game that has been at Gen Con since the beginning, as has its developer Mike Carr. Other highlights at the convention are roving entertainers such as the Klingon Jail and Bail team, people dressed as Klingons from Star Trek who stage a false arrest of an attendee. A miniature painting competition is held, as well, with prizes and awards in numerous categories such as sculpted and single figures, diorama, and machines of war. Entry fee – $3.00 (two generic tickets) per entry. Open to individuals, groups, and manufacturers, with separate awards for ages 14 and under.

The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (ENNies) is an annual ceremony that began online in 2001 and became an official part of Gen Con in 2002. Although EN World was based primarily on the 3rd edition of Dungeon and Dragons, a d20 system of games, (d20 refers to the 20-sided dice used in many role-playing games), the ENNies now include both d20 and non-d20 tabletop games and products. Eighteen categories are open for nominations including best fan site, game, cover, interior art, adventure, rules, and production.

The 40th anniversary of Gen Con will be held August 16 — 19 in 2007 at the Indiana Convention Center, 100 South Capital Avenue in Indianapolis. Whether you’re an avid game player, a manufacturer, or just want in on the entertainment and excitement of four days of gaming, join the estimated 80,000 who will attend this year.

General Admission Badges: Pre-registration — to July 9, 2007 — 4-day pass – $65.00, single day – $35.00. Onsite – $75.00 and $45.00, respectively. Children 8 & under — free – accompanied by adult or guardian.
VIG (Very Important Gamer) package available – includes extra generic tickets, coupons, concierge service, dinner and cocktails with VIPS of the gaming industry.

Event tickets: Confirms a spot to play, usually limited to 2 regular or 20 generics per person. (Generic tickets, a type of standby ticket, are available for open spaces that may occur at the games. These are great, unless the real ticket holder shows up to claim his space.)

Downtown parking; handicap assistance at customer service desk. Blocks of rooms at surrounding hotels set aside for Gen Con attendees. Circle Center Mall food court connects to convention center by skywalk, vendors throughout the Center, restaurants nearby.

(Note: Gen Con has been held in various cities in the UK, in Spain, and in Paris, France in 2006. The 2008 Convention is planned for Australia. Gen Con also produces the Star Wars Celebration.)

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