Road to Gen Con 50: A Primer

August 14, 2017
Road to Gen Con 50: A Primer - Gaming Library
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There’s an air of excitement for board gamers this season. Your friends are whispering “gencongencongencon” under their breadth while looking through lists of games you have never heard of. You stand and stare in confusion as they get hyped over this six letter word. What is a Gen Con? Your observations tell you a few things: people's hands are shaking in excitement, flights are being booked, wish lists are suddenly everywhere. You conclude that it must be Christmas. Yes, Gen Con must be Christmas for tabletop geeks. So, wait, what is it about?

The unofficial holiday for all things cardboard, Gen Con serves as the gaming mecca where all kinds of tabletop gaming enthusiasts converge. Gen Con (from Lake Geneva, the original site of the Convention, not to be confused with the Geneva Conventions, the ones about fixing how we do wars) is a four-day gaming convention in Indianapolis, Indiania. It mainly focuses on tabletop games but has grown since to include video games and other social activities. It was founded in 1968 by Gary Gygax (the king of D&D himself) and is now considered to be the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world. 

Primarily, Gen Con serves as a venue for news and game debuts. Publishers often save their biggest announcements for Gen Con, and this year is no exception: Fantasy Flight Games just recently dropped a bomb in the form of the announcement of the fourth edition of Twilight Imperium.

Image from Fantasy Flight Games

Early game releases are also a common sight in Gen Con. Con goers storm through the first hour trying to grab as many games as they can. Rarely do you see anyone going to Gen Con without the intention of buying a game or twelve. Promos and deals are always up for grabs, with some publishers going to great lengths to keep the con goers happy. For a list of games that will be released on Gen Con, check this one from BoardGameGeek: Gen Con 2017 Preview

Rare game hunters and members of the cult of the old are also welcome in the convention. Gen Con is the home of large math trades and deals from across the world. Titles long gone pop up once in a while and looking out for these games becomes a game itself.

Gen Con is a gaming convention, so naturally it's a place for gaming. Official tournaments and organized competitions are held yearly in Gen Con. A Game of Thrones 2nd Ed., Star Realms, X-Wing, and Marvel Legendary are some of the games that get a lot of attention in the competitive scene. Of course there are sillier games as well, including a Loopin' Chewie tournament and a Saboteur tournament.

Loopin' Chewie. As competitive as anyone can get. Image provided by Hasbro

For a more casual experience, Gen Con has a dedicated area for gaming. It is easier for you to find someone to play with as you can drop in a game or set up a table for yourself. The shelves are long and extensive and the choices are varied. Anyone who simply wants to play can stay there the whole day. 

Playing also extends to beyond board games. RPG and video game tables are numerous and they both receive the love board games would get in Gen Con. Several activities even go further in the deep end of the geek spectrum, like the famed True Dungeon, foam sword fighting, and VR experiences. 

Now on its 50th year, Gen Con has become a behemoth in gaming. It has evolved from a small gathering to one of gaming's biggest events. Gen Con is now considered to be an icon in tabletop gaming the same way Comic-Con is to pop culture in general.

There are many reasons why people celebrate Gen Con. For some, it is a rare chance for the hobbyists to get up close with the industry professionals  and get exclusive content that would otherwise be hard to find elsewhere. To others, it becomes a form of escape from an otherwise busy world. Most people would agree that Gen Con is a gathering of friends and future-friends in a place where people get to express themselves by doing the things that they love. 


This is part of an ongoing coverage of Gen Con 50. Celebrate with Gaming Library and dive deeper into this one-of-a-kind gaming event. For review requests and other board game related content, contact Duane at

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