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Subject: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkison rss

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Scott Alden
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This is an open letter by Peter D. Adkison, CEO of Gen Con LLC, about the future of Gen Con in light of the E3 announcement. Permission is given to reproduce this letter (but only in its entirety) in any electronic media, but the letter is primarily intended for fans and professionals in the tabletop games industry.

Dear Tabletop Gaming Fans and Professionals:

A few days ago E3 announced that they will be changing their format. In case you aren’t familiar with the inner workings of the electronic games industry, E3 is the premier trade show in North America for electronic games. This show is hosted annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center and regularly attracts hundreds of exhibitors and tens of thousands of industry professionals. For reasons I won’t speculate about, E3 has announced that they are changing their format from that of a large trade show to a smaller event focused on meetings and the press.

This has left many electronic game companies wondering about what their strategy should be in the future for the promotion of their games. Well, today we at Gen Con LLC are issuing a press release that will announce our intention to court these electronic game companies and we will describe some initiatives we are undertaking to better support electronic games.

The purpose of the letter you’re reading right now is, essentially, spin control. As a fan of tabletop games it would be easy to read this press release and think that Gen Con is abandoning its roots. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we will be working harder to bring electronic games companies to Gen Con, but we will also continue to work hard to support the business of our current tabletop games exhibitors. Just as importantly, we will not be taking any steps backwards in terms of supporting programming for tabletop games. Our shows will continue to have vast amounts of space dedicated to card games, roleplaying games, miniatures game, board games, and live action roleplaying games and we will continue to host non-gaming events of interest to gamers, like our costume contest, our games auction, True Dungeon, the Gen Con Fan Film Festivial, and our art show.

And are also investing in new initiatives for tabletop games as well. For example, this weekend at Gen Con Indy we will be showing a prototype “RPG Room of the Future”, courtesy of our friends at the Geo. Fern company. Instead of having multiple roleplaying games in the same room where the noise from one game interferes with the game at a table just a few feat away, we plan to work with our decorator to build a vast maze of roleplaying mini-rooms within the RPG area, greatly improving the quality of the roleplaying experience.

But in addition to all that, as our press release indicates, its our plan that there will also be a bigger presence of electronic games. Electronic games are not new to Gen Con; every year several of these companies come to our show. Its just that this year, in the wake of the E3 announcement, we want to remind all those companies that we are here, that they are welcome, that we are eager to learn what we can do to make Gen Con support their promotional requirements, and that, as the biggest open-to-the-public games convention in North America, we are an excellent venue for launching new games or for showing support of existing games—whether those games happen to be powered by electricity or by more analog means!

Peter D. Adkison

CEO, Gen Con LLC and Hidden City Games LLC

Written on August 8th, 2006, from the Indianapolis Convention Center while preparing for Gen Con Indy
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
Interesting.

I guess E3's loss is Gen Con's gain.

...

...

...

And, of course, by that I mean:

THE SKY IS FALLING THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
MWChapel wrote:


Jumping the shark! Nice!
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
Aldie wrote:

..And are also investing in new initiatives for tabletop games as well. For example, this weekend at Gen Con Indy we will be showing a prototype “RPG Room of the Future”, ... we plan to work with our decorator to build a vast maze of roleplaying mini-rooms within the RPG area...


heh I love that part. My only question is will there be a Minotaur wandering that maze?
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
Looks like a good move for Gencon, but for tabletop gaming, it is probably bad. Computer and Console games are an order of magnitude beyond tabletop games, so if they do decide to come to Gencon, table top will slowly be relagated to the back corner, booth prices will rise to put out the smaller publishers, and larger and larger chunk of attendees will be computer gamers, which will start a cycle of less and less tabletop stuff. I think it may help Origins, and WBC, as the Gencon regulars may start shifting to these cons instead.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
It's an interesting letter - I'm still gathering my thoughts.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
you could take a more positive spin, which could potentially bring a new audience to boardgaming..

hmm much like myself
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
Awesome, this means even more big huge fun at GenCon, and GenCon was already hosting some video game coverage as it was.

The bad news: I have a feeling GenCon midwest will not be big enough to hold all this
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
maibock wrote:
you could take a more positive spin, which could potentially bring a new audience to boardgaming.


This will not happen in any appreciable number. Video games take moments to get into. Board games take several minutes just to learn. At a show like E3, rushing from booth to booth, GenCon seems like molasses, and will most likely turn more people off to board games than on, just by the adrenal rush factor new video games and gadgets provide.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
I never had the honor of attending GenCon but this sounds crazy!
Videogames are a multi-million Dollar business, where the development of a single game can cost millions these days! Boardgames and RPGs are economically non-existent compared to that.
If they aim to be the prime Computer Game-Exhibition in North America, how could they justify giving lots of room to these ridiculous boardgames? This would be even more true, as there would easily be more people attending GenCon because of the computer games than because of the Tabletops and RPGs.

So, this seems like a good ideas for the organizers but a pretty bad idea for the fans and the non-electronic gaming hobby in general. I just don´t believe, that both can coexist under one roof.
Being in germany I have little fear for myself as we have the Spiel in Essen and the Games Convention in Leipzig neatly separated. But it would be really sad to lose GenCon.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
I don't see this having that major an impact. The kind of booths that would successfully get the product into the public conciousness at Gen Con is the kind of booth that we saw at E3. This kind of spectacle is what the industry says it is moving away from. I doubt we will see any large footprints from the major players--Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, 1C, etc. Instead, Gen Con might become a place where smaller publishers can make a big splash while the big boys have their own media events (like Nintendo's Space World). If that happens, I can't see it having much of an impact on tabletop and role playing exhibitors.

Of course, I hope that there is enough of a videogame presence at the upcoming Gen Cons that I can get my trip there comped in upcoming years.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
BattleZone wrote:
The bad news: I have a feeling GenCon midwest will not be big enough to hold all this


That's what I was thinking, too.

Never been to GenCon, so I don't know how much of the Indy convention center it fills, but if the video gamers really increase the population, will Indy still be able to host it up, or will they be forced to move it somewhere else?

If they end up having to move it after a few years, I can only imagine the riots that angry gamers could initiate, especially if it went somewhere far away like California...
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
yeah they have a GenCon SoCal already too, I am hoping that SoCal gets the REALLY big electronic gaming stuff and then the Midwest has a little, but more than it has now

I like the computer gaming people being there, I mean thanks to GenCon I have gotten to playtest EQ2 and D&D Online and other games. I dont think this will have an impact on the Con at all really, only open it up a bit more. There is still a LOT of room going to waste on the Exhibition hall floor, and the artwork section can easily be moved upstairs to accomodate more vendors. So can the autograph sessions.

I think this will be great!
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
The reason there isn't going to be an E3 anymore is because the biggest video game companies didn't feel like they were getting their money's worth from the one huge event to debut games and information. They wanted to do their own focused events where they could control everything. So it's doubtful that GenCon will suddenly turn into the "new E3".

I foresee smaller companies having a presence, and the bigger companies sending some token representation.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
i think this'll be a good thing... for a few years at least. i like see the video game companies that show up there now and certainly wouldn't mind seeing a few more.
my initial knee-jerk reaction was negative as i imagined E3 and Gencon squished into the same hall. E3 is just crazy madness with each area trying to out loud the next. but i think it'll take a few years for the video game companies to achieve their E3ness. at first they'll be a bit tentative with semi-modest booths simply showing off the games, then, as more and more companies come and with them more and more people and more and more press they'll try harder and harder to get the attention. that's when i'll feel bad for the guy who paid a grand for his booth to try to sell his homemade rpg having to try to compete with Tony Hawk skating on a half-pipe at the EA both next door.
hopefully it'll be a long and slow transition, as Marge once said to Homer "Fox turned into a hardcore pornography channel so gradually I didn't even notice".
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
It is indeed an interesting letter. Since I have not ever been to GenCon, and am not likely to ever attend it in its current location, I'm not sure that I can accurately comment on the tone of the convention right now as opposed to how it will be with the influx of computer and video games.

I have, however seen covereage of both GenCon and, more importantly, E3. GenCon may be a big gaming convention by American standards, but E3 is several orders of magnitude bigger. It's a zoo, from what friends who have attended tell me, and the atmosphere is almost the exact opposite of what one would desire for a gaming convention (loud, bright, and very crowded).

This could work, but I would be very surprised if, a few years from now, we don't look back on this letter and and pin-point the end of GenCon being a game convention and the launch of a new big gaming convention (hopefully, not in the MidWest) to take up its mantle.

I could be wrong, and I hope that I am (except for the idea of a new big gaming convention being somewhere not in the MidWest), but I don't have a good feeling about this...
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
There is a GenCon California, that is closer to Texas

http://www.gencon.com/2006/socal/default.aspx

The way GenCon merges its video games right now is just fine, all they have to do is make the area a little bigger and work with the aisles, it will all work out ok.

GenCon has learned from all its mistakes (like the year the badge printer went down and we all waited in line 3 hours)

So have no fear. Personally Im tired of all the good conventions being on the West Coast.

 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
If it brings prices down, or holds them where they are at, great. If it brings prices up, and makes crowds unbearable, bad.

But overall, I don't think it's a good thing to open Gen Con up to the big console developers. Companies spend on a single game's development what publishers spend on their entire line. The difference in economic influence provides such imbalance that, if the Con is successful in garnering console attendance, it will through simple market forced relegate the board game section to the back of the show. Console vendors will be willing and able to pay premium prices for the best floor space. Smaller boardgame publishers won't be able to afford booth space eventually.

I've only been to one Gen Con, in Milwaukee. I liked that it was only board and card games. I liked a weekend where everything was face to face, with no TV screens in place of opponents. I suppose by the time I'm ready to try and go back, we'll know what kind of impact this will have on the 'Con.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
Quote:

The purpose of the letter you’re reading right now is, essentially, spin control. As a fan of tabletop games it would be easy to read this press release and think that Gen Con is abandoning its roots. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we will be working harder to bring electronic games companies to Gen Con, but we will also continue to work hard to support the business of our current tabletop games exhibitors.


Does this sound familiar to anyone

Highschool Girl Friend wrote:
Maybe we should see other people, it will bring us closer together.

 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
This is on the exhibition floor however, which is only one part of GenCon, a very SMALL part. The Con is much different than it was in Milwaukee, it has changed a ton and is now a huge gathering of gamers splintered into rooms upon rooms playing games face to face and meeting people every day for 24 hours.

This does not effect the zillions of ballrooms and small rooms where oodles of RPG's are played, boardgames and miniature slugfests.

You have to have been recently to really understand that a few new vendors in the Vendor Hall will not effect the overall gaming of the Con

 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
I think that we're all making an unwarranted assumption in thinking that GenCon will be that successful in trying to court video games. I think that they'd get some more video game business than they used to, but there are many other smaller video game centered gatherings (such as PAX, or Leipzig) which the big companies are more likely to migrate to. It's a lot easier to just migrate to make a smaller video game con larger than it is to try to graft E3 onto a tabletop gaming convention.

If there's a disturbing aspect to this, it's that GenCon apparently thinks it's in its interests to try in a probably ill fated attempt to break into videogames instead of focusing on improving the convention it has.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
alexr37 wrote:
I think that we're all making an unwarranted assumption in thinking that GenCon will be that successful in trying to court video games. I think that they'd get some more video game business than they used to, but there are many other smaller video game centered gatherings (such as PAX, or Leipzig) which the big companies are more likely to migrate to. It's a lot easier to just migrate to make a smaller video game con larger than it is to try to graft E3 onto a tabletop gaming convention.

If there's a disturbing aspect to this, it's that GenCon apparently thinks it's in its interests to try in a probably ill fated attempt to break into videogames instead of focusing on improving the convention it has.


You do have a point there, we all have to remember that he is mentioning that GenCon is willing to take some vendors in, not that it will happen.

Last year I got to playtest Rise of Legends by Microsoft and that game is great, I have had many hours of fun with it, so its not all bad.
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
dralius wrote:
Does this sound familiar to anyone

Highschool Girl Friend wrote:
Maybe we should see other people, it will bring us closer together.



LOL!
"We can still be friends..."
 
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Re: Future of Gen Con - From Peter Adkinson
This is bad, bad news for those of us with smaller companies. Prices will go through the roof, and GenCon will no longer even be a blip on our scheduling radar.

This makes me sad.
 
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