I attended Gen Con this year (as if my bombardment of postings hadn’t made that annoyingly apparent), and it was everything I had hoped it would be. Held in Indianapolis, Gen Con is the largest board gaming convention in the world, and with over 60k attendees one of the largest conventions in the U.S. overall. Lining up outside of the exhibitor’s hall before it opened, chanting “Here we come! Here we come!” with the surrounding crowd, I knew I had come home among the greatest throng of humanity: geeks and nerds.
Thursday morning the doors flung open and my friend John and I speed walked our way from booth to booth, surveying the offerings of every major gaming company in the world. We sat down to games new to us and old, sampling just released best sellers and unknown games trying to edge into the market. We chatted with designers whose names graced the cover of game boxes we had back home. I even stumbled across Margaret Weis, of Dragonlance and The Death Gate Cycle fame, an author who did as much to fuel my love for fantasy as anyone else. Then we retired to our hotel to play the games someone had bought until the wee hours of the night forced us to sleep.
The next three days progressed much the same, though I chose fewer stops and stayed longer, spending more time demoing games. I was pleasantly surprised by Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed., a game that is at the forefront of the integration of technology with board gaming with its app-driven, cooperative gameplay. I also sampled Runewars: Miniatures, Blood Rage, Cash ‘n Guns, Flick 'em Up, and Pandemic: Cthulhu, among others. A highlight of the Con was attending the in-flight report for Fantasy Flight Games, a company who has diverted an alarming percentage of my earnings into their coffers, and getting to see early images of their newest and upcoming releases.
The true highlight for me, though, was the twelve-hour haul that was the North American Championship for Star Wars: Imperial Assault on Saturday. Facing off against some of the best players in the world was certainly a thrill, and placing 11th overall (out of a field of 66) was an achievement I could walk away proud of. Those who are familiar with the game might be interested in reading my reflection on the top lists of the tournament here.
But mostly what I enjoyed was the general exuberance of everyone around me for one of my passions in life. It is so easy to get a gamer talking—all you have to do is inquire about a game in his hands—and soon you’ll find an easy friend. John and I wandered through the Pathfinder Hall, host to probably a hundred tables of people playing either the Pathfinder roleplaying game or the card adventure game, and I asked someone there about the game. He responded with a heartfelt pitch for why the game has fans across the globe and ended by gifting John with several exclusive promos for the game. This experience replayed itself every time I wandered through the main hall. Boards were set up everywhere, and at each aficionados were eager to share their love of these games.
Each day passed in a whir of good friends and gaming. I already can’t wait until I make my next pilgrimage. But until then, happy gaming!