By: Fred Miles, Apprentice at Eleven Fifty Academy
This past week Indianapolis was host to the ever growing Tabletop Gaming convention GenCon. GenCon was started in Lake Geneva Wisconsin and has been a mainstay in the board gaming world for over 40 years. The convention has always aimed to be a sort of Mecca for board games and as the attendance numbers this year show, they have earned that title. Over 60,000 people bought tickets for the event which is held over the course of four days. This event turns Indianapolis into a hub of nerdom that rivals any tech center in the US.
I, along with many of my long time friends, have made it a yearly tradition to all attend GenCon as a way of keeping in contact and it has been a treat to watch the event grow more and more each year. With the rising popularity of tabletop gaming in the past few years, the convention has seen rapid growth as more people are learning how awesome board games are again. Now, for anyone reading who thinks of Monopoly or Sorry when they hear board game, just know that similar games are played at this convention but the world of board games isn’t just for kids. There is a multitude of games that people of any age will find challenging and compelling with complexity that will make even the smartest player reach for the rule book.
This was by far GenCon’s biggest year yet as they have had to expand outside the Indianapolis Convention Center since they need more room. This year some events were hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium and the convention is only getting bigger. So who knows, maybe in a few years all of Indianapolis will transform for a week. The activities and events at GenCon aren’t limited only to board games and card games however. Attendees could participate in tournaments for today’s most popular video games, which were streamed live and could be watched all over the world. The Escape Room offered patrons the chance to see how they would do escaping from being imprisoned in a room with their friends. Past years have featured Live Action Roleplaying of a Dungeons and Dragons game where players would throw oversized dice and attack monsters with foam weapons.
But by far the coolest aspect of Gencon is the Expo Hall which is the largest part of the convention where the Convention Center is turned into a bazaar of everything geek. It becomes a labyrinth of stores selling everything someone like me could want. Many of these stores are companies that either distribute or make the board games. They offer demos of the games so you can play them with friends or family to see if you would want to buy it. I usually treat it like going to Costco where you try all the samples and spend almost a full day wandering around playing any game that catches my eye. This provides a fun experience as you often end up seated with several strangers laughing as you play the game. It is a unique and cool experience and I have met people who I make a point of meeting up with every year to play games.
I will admit that I am very bias towards the convention, but I still think that anyone could find something to love there. So next year consider heading downtown and letting your inner nerd out a little. Worst case scenario you might have a little bit of fun.