Adventures in Gaming: GenCon

*Photos and article by: Dylan Terry

My name is Dylan, and I’m a board game geek.

It’s Thursday. Noon. I’m in the Indianapolis Convention Center, sitting across the hallway from the official balloon artist. Last night he was putting the finishing touches on a ten-foot-tall balloon castle, and he’s currently twisting his way through a mass of black balloons which has taken the shape of a dragon. On Sunday there will be a charity event to see who gets to assault the castle with some darts and slay the beast.

balloon_dragon

            It’s GenCon 2016, and it’s the best four days in gaming.

Of course, that doesn’t stop it from remaining an obscure convention, at least in the nerd landscape. Despite the fact that the 2015 con drew record-breaking attendance numbers exceeding 60,000 unique visitors, the event gets relatively little exposure outside Indianapolis, where it takes over the downtown area for four days every August.

For the past 49 years GenCon has consistently drawn huge crowds of tabletop game, popular culture, and general nerd enthusiasts from across the world. Though the event focuses on board games, role-playing games, and trading card games, the exhibits regularly showcase new movies, video game platforms, and up-and-coming genre authors.

No, for real. It feels like the city pauses while the nerds descend. I’m finishing this post up in a Panera (free wifi, a-ha!) and a guy dressed as Doctor Horrible just sat down across from me. Restaurants change their menus, bars openly invite cosplayers inside, and coffee bars start all sorts of punch-card-specials.

It’s for all these reasons that I’m here, and more. Though I’m really here for myself, I will be writing up irregular posts for 3 & Up Board Game Lounge, including game reviews, event descriptions, and general tomfoolery which always seems to find its way into the convention center.

            I pause in my writing for a moment to snap a picture of some cosplayers: Rey, from Star Wars, Mordekaiser, from League of Legends, and someone who I think is supposed to be a genderbent Boba Fett. Either way, each is just one example of the type of costumes you get here.

morde_cosplay

For a quick taste of more to come: I’ve seen more kilts in the past 24 hours than the past 12 months, more geek celebrities than I can roll a die at, and people of all ages taking part in events spanning game demos, author seminars, and games that even I haven’t heard of.

There’s more here than I can possibly cover, but I’ll do my best to provide enough coverage for you to vicarious experience this through me.

Dylan is an Ann Arbor based writer, musician, and all-around hobbyist taking a swan-dive into the world of professional nerdism. You can follow his various social media accounts @vorpal_words.

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