By Rick Teverbaugh The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Last year GenCon Indy saw a record turnout for the second straight year and there seems to be no letup in sight.
GenCon is more than 45 years old and has been hosted by Indianapolis since 2003.
The convention caters to gaming fans, whether they play board games, card games, role playing games and now even video games. There is also plenty to see for those enamored with books and artwork from the fantasy and science fiction genres.
Last year, there were 134,775 fans who came to GenCon’s four-day run. There were over 41,000 unique attendees.
This year the numbers for those who pre-registered to attend were higher than the year before. This year GenCon begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
“Having reached new records for convention attendance in the past two years, our expectations were high for our opening week, but this exceeded our already ambitious goals and estimates,” said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con LLC.
These figures aren’t just slipping past last year. They are blowing it out of the water. Pre-registration badge sales are up 41 percent from last year. In keeping with that, booth space for dealers who want to display, sell and demo their products was increased by 22,000 square feet and still that space sold out.
Hotel rooms have been snapped up at a rate more than 17 percent ahead of that in 2012.
Events planned for the con nearly doubled from a year ago to 2,700.
“Indy is delighted to be the host city of the longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world,” said Leonard Hoops, president & CEO of Visit Indy. “There’s nothing quite like Gen Con and we can’t wait to see to everyone.”
The four days are full of plenty of hobby-related events as well, such as:
u Badges are still available at gencon.com, and you can take take advantage of 24-hour on-site Will Call options. Will Call hours will begin Wednesday at noon and on-site Will Call will remain open 24-hours a day until the show closes on Sunday afternoon.
u Badges are $80 for 4 days, $50 for one day Thursday through Saturday and $30 for Sunday.
u The Exhibit Hall is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and on Sunday from 10 a.m. Until 4 p.m.
u Mayfair Games has announced that Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek” and “Stand By Me” fame, will be part of a special session called “The Star Trek: Catan Warp Speed Charity Event.” It will take place during Mayfair’s Gen Con Block Party at the Georgia Street Pavilion on Thursday at 7 p.m. To participate, attendees can donate a $100 by purchasing a ticket with all proceeds supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.
That’s just a sample of the type of special events going on all week. Some of the largest game companies in the world will have a presence there including AEG, Z-Man Games, Asmodee, Fantasy Flight, Wizards of the Coast, Rio Grande, Iello, Game Salute, Tasty Minstrel and scores of others.
In addition, there is gaming being conducted nearly around the clock for the four days.
Rio Grande, for instance, has a special room for gaming separate from the Exhibit Hall and that room is open for free gaming from 10 a.m. until midnight Thursday through Saturday. Also taking place in that room will be the Dominion World Championships, which conclude on Sunday afternoon.
GenCon is known as a place where new games are introduced, either for sale or demo or both and this year will be no exception. Well over 100 new titles will be introduced during the con and many of those will be sold ahead of when they will be available in games and hobby stores or through online retailers.
GenCon is billed as the “Best Four Days in Gaming” and it is a claim that seems well founded.