There have been zombie sightings in downtown Indianapolis. No, it is not Halloween, and no, it is not a zombie apocalypse.
That’s because these are not your typical zombies. Rather, they are the rare, warm-blooded kind who prefer the taste of pizza, hot dogs and pretzels to human flesh.
And they, along with tens of thousands of other rabid gaming fans, many of whom come dressed in elaborate, sci-fi and fantasy-themed customs, have taken over the streets of downtown Indianapolis. That’s what happens when Gen Con comes to town.
This 4-day mega-event takes place in Indianapolis August 15-18, 2013 at the Indiana Convention Center.
About Gen Con
What is Gen Con? Only one of the largest gaming conventions in North America. People from all 50 states and 12 different countries flood the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis, many of whom come from as far away as Australia and Japan.
A lot has already happened at Gen Con, including a costume parade and even a “zombie walk.” But these gaming fans are more than just colorful personalities; they are valuable contributors to the local economy. In fact, the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) estimates that Gen Con pumps over $25 million into the local economy on an annual basis. Visit Indy estimates an economic impact of closer to $47 million. Regardless, this is one huge event.
The economic impact of Gen Con was readily apparent outside the Convention Center on Georgia Street, as evidenced by the huge crowds and long line of food trucks.
The size of Gen Con is truly amazing, not only because the Convention Center itself is so large, but because there is so much to see and do if you enjoy gaming. It is one large event for sure. How large is “large?” We’re talking close to 12,000 games, events and things to do! Now THAT is large.
A colossal gaming room called the “Grand Gaming Academy” is sponsored by Mayfair Games, a publisher of board, card, and roleplaying games.
It is the site of both “giant” and “mammoth” size games, all free and all open to willing participants. On any given day there are dozens of scheduled games where players can sign up in advance, in addition to games that take place ‘whenever.’
Giant games are typically played at a table with several players. With the mammoth size games, the game board is a large rug which players must walk on in order to move game pieces.
Speaking of big things, the exhibition area is packed with close to 2,500 exhibitors, selling everything from t-shirts to hats to electronics. In the photo above, a woman dons a hat and spectacles.
One exhibitor, Evanced Solutions, is based in Indianapolis. The company makes educational apps for kids. Their catalog currently consists of three games: “That’s Balony,” “Froggy Phonics” and “Tic Tac Bananas.”
We spoke with Vice President of Product Design and Marketing Matt Sheley, who explained what the company is trying to achieve. “What we’ve done is try to play the classroom (board) games and figure out where do we see the delight in them, and how to we take that delight and create apps that kids can play at home, so that parents feel a lot better about downloading some games for their kids.”
In this video, Nate Moody, an illustrator for Evanced Solutions, talks about “Froggy Phonics,” a game for grades K-2 in which kids must match a phonics sound with a word that appears on the screen. The soundtrack to the game was written by a local Indianapolis artist.
In the above video, StoneBlade Entertainment CEO Justin Gary describes the company’s latest digital trading card game, “SolForge.”
Formerly known as “Gary Games,” they authored the award-winning Ascension deck-building game before joining forces with Richard Garfield to become Stoneblade Entertainment. Richard Garfield is the creator of the very successful trading card game, “Magic: the Gathering.”
One fun exhibit was a virtual reality game called “Battletech Firestorm.” Players are in a fully enclosed cockpit that features multiple screens, joysticks, and rudder pedals. It is a truly immersive experience.
Other Gen Con Photos
If there’s on thing Gen Con is known for, it’s the many vibrant personalities that make this even really stand out. Even people who don’t know Gen Con by name know of the event based on the crowd it brings. You don’t have to walk far to encounter these folks.