GenCon Indy 2005, Day 1

By Scott Parrino 20 Aug 2005 0

It?s all in the numbers

Ah, conventions. Where gamers go to let their hair down. Or don their armor. Or roll strange, oddly-shaped dice. The grand irony of GenCon is that it?s held in a convention hall right next to where the Indianapolis Colts play football. I can?t think of two worlds more unlike one another: it?s like the geeks in high school invited every other geek they knew to take over the cafeteria, theater, and half the classrooms in school. A temporary junta to be sure, but a successful one.

As I write this I?m sitting in the Touchdown Club. I have no idea how many dollars, if any, football fans must pay to be part of such a club. Judging from the food on sale today they ought to be paying their fans. Six dollars for a meatball sub plus the cost of parking and who-knows-how-much for a football ticket? Thank heaven for gaming conventions. Earlier I saw a couple of folks dressed as a wizard and a demon sitting at a table where I normally might expect to find overfed football fans in jerseys shelling out big bucks for the privilege to see a game in person that they could watch more clearly (and with instant replay) on TV. I would expect these fans to be merrily extolling the virtues of their favorite running back or nose guard. Geeks like me? I?d rather know what number I need to beat for a reflex saving throw.

Love is in the Air

In relationships, I have found that two axioms appear to be true: likes attract, and opposites attract. My wife come from the latter category. We have an extremely solid relationship built on the foundation that we have little in common except a mutual love and respect for each other. Metaphysically speaking love may know no boundaries, but I have little interest in watching her tennis games and she has little interest in attending gaming conventions. Even so, I felt a tinge of loneliness when I was passed last night by a couple holding hands. The girl was intently listening ? obviously preparing to provide expert counsel ? as he was working through his strategy. ?I have enough hit points?? was all I heard. And all I needed to hear. RPG love. Somebody needs to write a song about this.

The Ring of Steel? Or is that Coin?

Gaming is big business these days. If anyone doubted that, or thought that Avalon Hill might have faded away with the 1980?s, they need to think again. At Origins this year they revealed their Axis & Allies Miniatures game and the gaming community started buzzing. It went on sale today at GenCon and it?s clear there are some high expectations for it. Nearly half of Avalon Hill?s booth consists of displays of real equipment and uniforms (on manikins). Tanks, half-tracks and motorcycles all proudly display the best the Allies had to give the Axis. The display dominates everything else around it. If that wasn?t enough, every staff member working for the convention hall is wearing an olive green Axis & Allies Miniatures shirt. That noise you hear isn?t the ring of steel clashing with steel. It?s big bucks. The Axis & Allies Miniatures display could stand respectably with anything you might see at E3 ? and best most of them. It?s impressive. Combined with their aggressive lineup of games being released this year, I think this might be the tip of the iceberg.

The Thundering Herd

Getting into the hall 30 minutes before it opened I had to politely navigate through a crowd of at least a hundred people ? probably more. The place was packed. From the very opening of the show the halls have been thronged with people. Typically conventions like GenCon have more people on the weekends than during the week. If that?s the case, it?s going to be difficult to move. Origins this year had record attendance, even if there seemed to be fewer people on the floor ? likely due to the fact that the 4th of July weekend was the next Monday. I can?t wait to find out what the attendance figures are this year.

To give readers a feel for what the place is like, here's my first selection of photos. Stay tuned for more coverage.

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