Having never been to Gen Con, that sacred holy ground of gaming in the United States, all I really knew for certain was that it was big. Even that, it turns out, was mistaken. Because Gen Con is not merely big, it is massive. This year, 50,000 attendees entered the hallowed temple that is the Indian Convention Center, and by all accounts it was a “smaller crowd than usual.”

There’s a reason so many thousands of people from all over the world flock to Indiana each August. Gen Con knows what it’s about and does it well. The biggest four days of gaming did not disappoint.

Games, Games, Games

“You can’t please everyone” is a common adage that is often very true. Unless you’re Gen Con. Which is so huge and so well attended by game publishers that it can, in fact, please everyone. Where else can you go from playing a board game about GWAR to one featuring The Great British Baking Show?

What’s New

(Clockwise from top left) Leviathan announcement; Leviathan air ship in action, and prototype Mechwarrior: Destiny figures.

Because of its massive attendance, Gen Con is the perfect place to hear the latest announcements and see upcoming product first-hand. For instance, Catalyst Game Labs were showcasing several projects, like their current Leviathan Kickstarter and a preview of their upcoming Battletech: Mercenaries figures due out in 2023 . The most exciting thing, though, was their preview of their Mechwarrior: Destiny figures. For use in the role-playing game, these figures were massive! The power suits are at the same scale that battlemechs currently sit at, while the actual ‘mechs…Well, see for yourself.

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Battle of the Minis

(Clockwise from top left) Monsterpocalpse and Warcaster from Privateer Press, Conquest from Para Bellum Games, and Epic Encounters from Steam Forged Games.

Everywhere you looked, miniature game companies did everything in their power to outshine their competitors. The winner? Gen Con attendees since everywhere you looked there were beautiful miniatures on display.

Stay to Play

(Clockwise from top left) A Warhammer 40,000 display, Infinity tournament play space, Pokemon demos, play area at the Lucas Oil Stadium, Games, and Twilight Imperium organized play.

Looking at new and exciting games is great, but even more fun is getting your hands on them. Fortunately, Gen Con has enough designated playing space to accommodate the 50,000 ravenous gamers that descended on it, cards and dice in hand, ready to game. The expo hall is massive and packed with row upon row of impressive tournament setups. But if that isn’t enough room, you can hop across the street to the Lucas Oil stadium across the street. Playing a game or two in the same stadium as the Indianapolis Colts is a bit more impressive than down at your neighborhood game store.

A Sense of Grandeur

(Clockwise from top left) Giant red dragon made from balloons, the backside of the Avalon Hill expo hall booth, the Cardhalla collaborative art project, and a two-story inflatable battlemech.

If you’re going to bill yourself as the largest gaming convention in America, you better bring the spectacle, something Gen Con fully realizes. While you can find plenty of indie designers and niche games at the show, it’s also a chance for the big names in game design, and Gen Con itself, to flex a bit. Games Workshop, Catalyst Labs, Avalon Hill, Wiz Kids, and more all try to outcompete each other for attention, going to elaborate lengths to do so. Gen Con itself does everything possible to remind people why it’s the king, hosting collaborative art events, workshops, a dance night, and concerts.

Get Dressed Up

(Clockwise from top left) A vault dweller (Fallout), an Adeptus Mechanicus tech-priest (Warhammer 40,000), Percy (Vox Machina), and Captain Rocketeer.

When it comes to cosplay, San Diego Comic Con gets most of the attention. But Gen Con could easily give it a run for its money. The costumes on display were many and varied, covering everything from games, to comics, movies, and wholly original characters. While it would be possible to do an article on just the cosplay alone, these 4 were some of the standouts.

Miss out this year? That’s ok. Gen Con already has dates for the next four years on the books. See you August 3, 2023!

by Zane Messina

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