Nearly 56,000 board, role playing and live action gaming fanatics descended upon Indy’s urban core Aug. 14-17 for the 46th annual Gen Con, the self-proclaimed “best 4 days in gaming”. Life-size game boards, costume parades and play-testing new games before they are published are examples that only scratch the surface of how diverse and interactive the event has become.
Interestingly, Gen Con is largely a transient convention, drawing as much on attendees from outside of Indiana, and even the U.S., as it does from inside state lines. This tends to be good for Indianapolis businesses, but it also creates an opportunity for local gaming industry professionals and budding artists to gain exposure to a highly engaged and enthusiastic community.
Local game designers Action Phase got a warm welcome on opening day, when they found their exhibit booth swarmed with kickstarter backers and new fans looking to purchase copies of the newly released “Heroes Wanted” board game.
“This is the launch of our first game. Heroes Wanted arrived this week and it’s been amazing to see them move so fast," said game producer Brian Wyrick. "We brought three car loads of games and are leaving with one.”
Action Phase also saw slots to play test the game nearly full throughout the entire event.
Graphic artists also claim a significant footprint within the Gen Con exhibit hall (which is only a portion of the entire event itself) to display and sell original drawings, paintings and posters directly to the public.
Indianapolis-based illustrator, Gavin Smith, recently made the shift to becoming a full-time artist partly due to opportunities to connect directly to the industry and fans that events like Gen Con provide.
“After an early career in the music industry, I decided to go back to school for drawing and was able to land a gig with comics like The Accelorators after just a few years of freelancing,” Smith said.
Smith’s portfolio and career has grown to the point where he was able to publish his own comic called “Human City” in 2012 amidst traveling across the country exhibiting at festivals and conventions.
This year’s Gen Con broke several records for attendance and fan engagement proving once again that Indianapolis is the perfect stomping ground for unique and niche industry events.