Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Impressions of GenCon

I attended GenCon Indianapolis for the first time last week. I'll have many comments and reports over the next couple weeks, but in the meantime here are a few observations:

It's Big. The convention center is larger than the Columbus center used for Origins, and there are many events in several hotels as well. I think the event count is over 6,000, compared to 4,500 for Origins, but I suspect the events tend to be smaller at Origins.

The exhibition hall dwarfs the one used at Origins. $1,300 for a 10 by 10 foot area. There were even a couple of companies (video game related, it must be said) that had "booth babes". (I talked briefly with one, dressed to be a character from an online trading card game related to Everquest, who travels with the company all over the nation, though she actually comes from California. Big bucks involved here.) The wargame-only publishers such as Clash of Arms, Avalanche, and GMT and others did not exhibit.

Pre-register. When I arrived Thursday about 1, an enormous line of hundreds of people snaked along the sidewalk, all waiting to register. I just walked in to pick up my pre-reg, no line at all at that point. There was another long line Friday.

Seminars. GenCon puts their guests of honor to work. And the results are good panel discussions.

The proportion of male and female appears to be about the same as at Origins (a quarter female). And as at Origins, there are very few black or obviously Hispanic attendees.

A lot more costumes were in evidence than at Origins. One hotel hosted the costume events, I didn't get over there.

One exhibitor mentioned 28,000 attendees, in ads prior to the convention the aim was evidently 30,000. Origins maxed at 15,000 two years ago, and was 10,000 this year.

1 comment:

EastwoodDC said...

In my experience GENCON is maybe too big. It is the single biggest gathering of gamers, and immersing yourself in games with the largest gathering of enthusiasts can be a unique experience. However, there is so much going on that you can't possibly do and see everything. There is also much that I have little interest in (video games, LARPS) so that convention ticket ends up buying me access to a lot that I don't really need.

Of course, I have some of those same problems at ORIGINS, but there it seems more manageable.