If you've never been to Gen Con, it might surprise you to find out that it is as much a collection of creative workshops as it is a fan convention. This stems from the fact that Gen Con has been deeply involved with the role playing game hobby since the very beginnings of role playing as a hobby, and as James Wallis wrote quoting the now famous game designer Greg Costikyan in Interactive Fantasy (IF) issue #2 back in 1994, "gaming is a democratic form of entertainment, placing the audience and the creator on more or less equal footing." This is true of most gaming, but it is especially true of role playing games where an expected part of play is the creation of new content -- either mechanical or narrative. Since the early days of the hobby designers like Greg Stafford have been arguing that role playing games themselves are art, "Role-playing games are a new form of art, as legitimate as sculpture, drama, or prose fiction." Gen Con is filled with events for those gamers who wish to become artists.
The Writer's Symposium contains over 70 events focused on the creation and marketing of genre fiction.
The Gen Con film festival -- and supporting "how to" panels -- keeps growing every year due to the democratization of film making tools.
There are game design workshops a plenty, and a vibrant artist's gallery where new artists and established names share their work and their expertise. The Miniature Hobby Events feature skilled miniature painting and provide over 60 workshops from those who want to learn more about painting, building terrain, and pursuing this artistic avenue.
In addition to the artistic and creative events, this year's event has a couple of highlights.
- As mentioned above, Gen Con is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
- The convention is also celebrating its 10th year in Indianapolis.
- Last year's event saw four-day turnstile attendance of more than 120,000 and this year's event is even bigger than last year.
- Thursday night featured a Keynote speech discussing the Future of Dungeons & Dragons. It was the first time that Wizards of the Coast has provided a visionary Keynote address.
- More than 45 brand new games will be on sale at the convention -- form family games to card games and rpgs Gen Con is hobby gaming's version of E3.