No, it is not Halloween, and no, it is not a zombie apocalypse. That’s because these are not your “typical” zombies, but instead, 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 elaborately dressed gaming fans, can be seen walking the streets of downtown Indianapolis during the wild, 4-day stretch of mid-August known as Gen Con.
About Gen Con Indianapolis
Simply put, Gen Con is one of the largest and most remarkable gaming conventions in North America. Each August, gaming enthusiasts from around the world, some from as far away as Australia and Japan, flood the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis during this 4-day mega-event.
But these gaming fans are more than just colorful personalities dressed in elaborate, sci-fi and fantasy-themed customs; 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. Other estimates put the economic impact closer to $47 million. Clearly, this is one huge event.
Take a walk outside the Convention Center, and the economic impact of Gen Con is readily apparent on Georgia Street, as evidenced by the typically large crowds and long lines at food trucks.
The size of Gen Con is 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 big event for sure. How big is “big ?” We’re talking close to 12,000 games, events and things to do, from seminars, workshops, role-playing and board games to tradable card games, spouse activities and other fun events! Now THAT is big.
You’ll find “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.’
Indianapolis-based Evanced Solutions, for example, attended the 2013 event . As Vice President of Product Design and Marketing, Matt Sheley, explained, “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.”
Formerly known as “Gary Games,” Evanced Solutions 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.”
The “SolForge” 3-D banner, which hung from the Convention Center ceiling during the 2013 event,is an example of the types of banners you can expect to see at Gen Con. This particular one stood out from afar, and did a good job of attracting visitors to the company’s interactive exhibitor booth.
Fun exhibits, like this virtual reality game called “Battletech Firestorm,”are always crowd favorites. Players step inside a fully enclosed cockpit that features multiple screens, joysticks, and rudder pedals. It was 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.