INDIANAPOLIS — Gen Con returned to Indianapolis for its 45th anniversary, bringing visitors and boosting the local economy.
Gen Con Indy has been taking place in the Circle City for 10 years but had its humble beginnings in Lake Geneva, Wis., when a group of friends got together to play some games. There were 45 people at the first convention.
“Now coming off of the 10th anniversary, we are ecstatic at the signs of continued growth,” said Chris Gahl of Visit Indy. “We’ve seen growth in attendees, exhibitors, and visitors.”
Gaming enthusiasts flock to Indy to see the gaming tournaments, celebrity appearances, exhibit hall booths, electronic games, workshops, seminars, art shows, auctions, and countless other activities. During the convention, there is non-stop gaming including role-playing games, miniatures, board games, trading card games, and video and computer games.
This year’s projected attendance was 36,000.
Convention organizers recently committed to continue their relationship with Indianapolis at least until 2020.
“It is a true case of ‘if you build it, they will stay,’” Gahl said. “They were literally outgrowing our convention center. By expanding, we were able to keep Gen Con.”
Gahl said Gen Con generates about $36 million in economic impact each year. With that in mind, during the duration of the agreement, the city will see more than $300 million of economic impact.
Peter Adkinson, founder and former CEO of Wizards of the Coast, is the owner of Gen Con, LLC. He purchased Gen Con from Wizards of the Coast in 2002. It is headquartered in Seattle, Wash.
Gen Con also has licensed events in Europe.
Game manufacturers and publishers consistently utilize Gen Con as the place to launch new games and new products, show off the latest game expansions and features, and host tournaments.
There are a variety of activities going on at any one time during the convention, including costume contests, auctions, art shows, panel discussions, and a film festival.
This year, Wes Bentley served as the media guest of honor. Bentley is often recognized for his starring role in “American Beauty,” Sam Mende’s Academy Award-winning film. He more recently earned acclaim as The Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games.
Bentley joined other media guests such has Wil Wheaton and Nichelle Nichols who signed autographs for convention attendees.
Fans were also given the opportunity to attend the first official Gen Con beer tapping event at High Velocity Sports Bar. Indianapolis-based Sun King Brewing presented the Gen Con Indy 1012’s official beer, “The Ale of Destiny.”