Summer is gradually coming to an end (thankfully, triple-digit days may be behind us), but the tabletop gaming community is still basking in the afterglow of the 51st annual Gen Con, the longest-running gaming convention in the world. Over 50,000 con-goers descended upon Indianapolis from August 2nd to the 5th, in a celebration of all things nerd.

Founded in 1968 by the legendary Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, only 100 attended that first year, with attendance growing exponentially decade after decade. From its beginnings in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, through a move to Milwaukee and finally making a home in Indianapolis, it began as a war gaming convention and turned into the massive, beloved gathering we know. D&D was hardly mentioned in those first years, but things began to change around 1976, when D&D events were held with a total of 162 players, and 389 the next year. Today it is a major draw today, with D&D experts joining panels over the ‘Best Four Days in Gaming’.

And it’s not just D&D that’s come out of Gen Con—Magic: The Gathering debuted at Gen Con in 1993, before exploding into the international sensation it is today.

2018 was a big one as Gen Con hosted 19,000 role-playing games, panels, and meetups. Panelists included Victoria Rogers, DM of The Broadswords podcast, Travis McElroy of The Adventure Zone, guests from Geek and Sundry, and more. Also hosting a panel was Matthew Mercer of the massive hit Critical Role, which held a sold-out live show that Friday. Much to the delight of fans, Mercer made an appearance in full cosplay as his own NPC Pumat Sol, a firbolg merchant in Wildemount.

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Gen Con even had its own official beer—the “Everlasting Gamer” amber ale by local favorite Sun King Brewing.

New board games included a greatly anticipated new edition of Lovecraft-inspired Arkham Horror, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger by Z-Man Games, and Nyctophobia by Catherine Stippell through Pandasaurus Games, where you play a cooperative game of survival in a pitch-black forest—while wearing blackout glasses. Ars Technica and Board Game Quest have full recaps and game reviews online.

In another great move, Gen Con focused this year on sustainability. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told the IndyStar, “Just as Indianapolis loves welcoming Gen Con to our city each year, Gen Con has shown their commitment to Indianapolis, working to lessen their environmental impact and actively participate in the betterment of our community.” To that end, Gen Con reduced their program books by half, reducing paper by three million pages. They also set up stations where guests could recycle packing materials rather than trashing them, in addition to making more of their signage recyclable. It’s a great step towards greater sustainability in the gaming community—hopefully inspiring others to continue taking responsibility even when they return home.

We’re already looking forward to next year!

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images courtesy of Gen Con Facebook page


Lyndsi Anderson