Gen Con Indy 2022 Was an Experience
Gen Con is an event every tabletop gamer should attend at least once. And when I say event, I mean multiple events happening under one name. Of course, there were many tabletop games of all types, but there were also presentations covering writing, film, game design, crafts, and spa appointments. Literally something for everyone to do if you are a gamer, writer, into film, crafts, or looking for something to do while supporting one who was off slaying a dragon.
2022 marked the 55th gathering of Gen Con and it came back strong after the pandemic. Over 50,000 people attended the convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. They weren’t disappointed with what was offered up by more than 530 game publishers and vendors. There were over 500 new games released during the convention, some of which were limited editions available only to attendees. Some are available for a short time through their company websites.
There were games to be played, and they were played continuously over the four-day gathering. 15,000+ ticketed events were held between the Indianapolis Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Crowne Plaza, Hyatt Regency, JW Marriott, Marriott, Omni Severin, Union Station, and Westin. There were an additional 900 virtual events held through the convention’s Gen Con Online program.
No matter what flavor you prefer for gaming, there was something for you to do. Games were hosted for over 12 hours a day, every day of the convention. It was almost unfathomable to consider the number of hours attendees spent playing games.
One hall was devoted to tabletop games. There were games sponsored by companies to give everyone a chance to play the new releases along with tournaments to test our skill in games we’ve been playing for years.
This was a great area for seeing what independent developers have created. I saw so many games I was interested in I know I could have spent a second small fortune. Having the chance to play them first meant I could narrow my buying to just the necessities.
Another area was dedicated to games still in development and play testing. This has always been a personal favorite of mine at every game convention I have gone to. The ingenuity and creativity built into the new games keeps me excited about this hobby (and why my personal gaming group probably has enough games on our shelves to host our own convention). I am looking forward to seeing the games make it to market and I know many of my friends will be watching for them.
Let us not forget about the tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs). If you have any doubts about having your favorite TTRPG not being played, you needed to take another look at the schedule. Hundreds of different systems were played over the event. For those who didn’t find their favorite TTRPG, I suggest you put in a proposal to run it and you will find others who are interested in your fandom. I talked with several game masters who did just that and they led sold out tables.
Personally, I was able to play several games with friends I haven’t seen in years. I believe this was the case for many who were there—there is just something different about playing a game at a table with your friends that isn’t captured in other settings. I also was able to catch up with old friends who were at the convention in the vendor area as we all mingled around to see what was new and exciting.
Writing and film presentations were well attended, and the topics carried on in hallway conversations. There were events ranging from discussing favorite fandoms to how you can better your craft and be a part of the circle of creators.
One group of young enthusiasts left a panel on writing discussing how they were each going to write a piece of fan fiction and get it out there because that was one way an author got their break. That type of inspiration was fun to see, and infectious.
I’ve seen some complaints about the ticketing of the events. I understand the concern they express. I also understand the concern the hosts have about this. There are a lot of details that probably don’t get shared out about why we are buying the seats to play the games. However, I will say that it is an important part of tracking what we are all interested in and really does allow for the convention to get better every year by seeing what is signed up for, and then participated in.
On the vendor floor you could find just about anything you would like to support your hobby. Along with the games, there were all sorts of materials to build a greater gaming experience. There were authors selling books that covered the genres so many of us enjoy reading. Artists had their works on display (and creating them where you could watch) to enhance the setting of where you game or any other room you would display the talent represented.
The mood in the vendor room was pure excitement. People mingled and made their way from one booth to the next. Others had a plotted course and knew where they wanted to be. Packages and bags were in abundance. For those items too large to carry out, or others that were sold out, purchases were made, and delivery companies are now being put to work.
There were specialty items available for Gen Con Indy 2022 that may or may not still be available. A number of retailers had developed merchandise and games specific for the event.
Rollacrit was the official merchandising partner of Gen Con Indy 2022. Soon after the convention got started, you could find people sporting the latest fashions available. This included shirts, pins, other clothing, bags, accessories, and they even have their own game coming out. I had friends who were not able to get the merchandise they wanted while attending, but they and you are not out of luck just yet. Rollacrit still has many items available on their website (link) so we can all remember the days we spent in Indy sharing a few days with 50,000 of our closest friends.
Another item I found particularly interesting was the 5e adventure, “Shadows in Genzacon.” This was a limited edition 5e adventure created by Gooey Cube (website) for the convention. What makes this adventure so unique is the inclusion of the wonderful hosts of Gen Con as some of the nonplayer characters. I’m apologetic to say that by the time this article is published the adventure will no longer be available except where someone might want to sell their collectable copy. But keep your eyes out for it because I think it would be worth playing. (I have a copy and will be doing a review later.)
Gen Con Indy 2022 had an official charity partnership with the Patachou Foundation. This foundation serves meals and provides learning experiences for children in the local area. They work to increase awareness about food and fight the causes of hunger in the community. Through the multiple events at the convention the Foundation raised nearly $40,000 for this wonderful cause.
I also know there were many game companies and vendors also raising money for charities they support. This includes larger charities with international and national missions along with those efforts to help in their communities.
I wish I could report on how much was raised by all the different groups that I came in contact with. It shows just how kind and gracious the gaming, geeky community is. From some of the preliminary information I have seen, I am confident that over $100,000 was raised through events, contributions from sales, and additional donations. I tip my hat to such a great community of people we are a part of.
Gen Con Indy 2022 (website) was a successful event that people are going to remember and talk about. New stories were created while being there and many others will be created from what was taken away.
I enjoyed meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I am sure I am not the only person who was able to do that. We are coming out of a time of social upheaval with the pandemic and having an increased ability to get out and be with the people we enjoy being with felt good. I am glad Gen Con took the initiative of safety requirements to make the event as safe as possible. I know that is a monumental task that will always have detractors. From my point of view, I saw most everyone enjoying themselves and very little concern about what was asked of them.
Gen Con is an adventure that needs to be completed by every gamer at least once in their life. There is so much happening and so much energy in the community that you will leave tired and exhilarated. Plan ahead because this isn’t just a side quest, it is a full-on adventure that, when completed, will allow you to level up your gaming.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom writes about geeky things because people always say to write what you know. Their love of the geeky, nerdy community dates to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. They’re an award-winning writer with hundreds of articles on these topics for blogs, magazines, and gaming companies. They also have short stories and books published. Their research includes playing as many of their collection of around 500 roleplaying games and another 1,000 tabletop games with friends. Join them at guildmastergaming.com.