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A Look Back at the Conventions
Joining the Party
Tracy Hurley

T his year marked the 45th anniversary of Gen Con—and with over 41,000 attendees, the convention had something for anyone interested in gaming, cosplay, anime, and more. Machinima recently posted their video looking back at attending the con, and Joining the Party's Tracy Hurley further rounded up the following news and videos from the event.

Let's start off, naturally, with Dungeons & Dragons...

The D&D schedule at GenCon was packed. In addition to RPGA games of Living Forgotten Realms (LFR), Ashes of Athas, and Living Divine, players were invited to try out D&D Next or compete for supremacy in the D&D Championship, the longest running D&D tournament.

Seminars on a variety of D&D topics provided both information and a platform for feedback, as staff members discussed the future of D&D—not only the mechanics, but also the artwork, digital products, novels, and more. In addition, this marked the first year of a keynote address for the convention. Videos for many of these events can be found here on the site. The Tome Show also captured audio recordings of a number of events.

In addition, the 2012 Gen Con Charity Auction took place, with Wizards of the Coast donating vintage gaming material to help benefit the Gygax Memorial Fund. Over $15,000 was raised—with Gail Gyax on hand the next day to receive the proceeds:

Exhibit Hall Floor and Demos

With over 300 exhibitors, the goods available ranged from leather-bound journals, to boffer weapons, to board games, to cosplay outfits. In addition, there were special sections for both artists and writers to show off their wares as well as a family friendly area. Both on the exhibitor hall floor and in special areas, companies and game masters ran a variety of games.


As with many conventions, a number of attendees showed off their sewing and crafting skills by wearing homemade costumes, often of their favorite characters. In addition to the attention from fellow fans, the organizers also recognized those who dressed up in a number of ways. For the first three days of the convention, judges roamed the hallways giving out special ribbons to highlight some of the truly awesome costumes. Then on Saturday afternoon, the annual costume parade looped around the convention center, followed by the stage costume contest for a number of categories including Anime, Steampunk, Fantasy/Historical, and more.

In addition to the costume parade, videos also exist for the stage contest (parts 1 and 2).

A number of websites recorded the convention costumes and interviewed those who dressed up. Here are a few:

  • Dungeon Bastard highlights those he considers to be part of the Ultimate Cosplay Badass (Part 1 and 2). No mere costume contest, Bill Cavalier fights his share in an ultimate beatdown.

  • Cryptozoic Gaming provides their own look at the first two days of Gen Con cosplay. Popular sources include League of Legends, Ghost Busters, Doctor Who, My Little Pony, Legend of Zelda, and of course Star Wars.

  • Cosplay 4 Us All also recorded videos including a general look and the zombie walk.

  • Also be sure to check out the Dalek invasion!


Started in 1999, Cardhalla is a charity event held at Gen Con. Volunteers construct a city out of donated cards, typically from trading and collectible card games, and on Saturday night attendees are invited to try to knock down the buildings by targeting them with coins. The coins are then collected and given to charity.

This year, a girl managed to knock down one of the largest buildings on the first try. Soon everyone joined in the fun.

Other Random Fun

SPA Events: A number of people offered non-gaming activities, often grouped together as SPA (or SPousal Activities). These events include everything from arts & crafts, massage, self-defense, and tours of local places such as the market catacombs.

Food Trucks: A big showing from food trucks, with 20 trucks rotating through for lunch and dinner all four days of the convention.

True Dungeon: This year marked the 10th anniversary of the True Dungeon at Gen Con. Attendees take on the roles of adventures, making their way through a life-sized dungeon complete with interactive props, while focusing on problem solving, teamwork, and tactics.

Looking for more photos or videos of Gen Con? Try Flickr. I also created a playlist on YouTube with a number of videos.

Did we miss your favorite Gen Con activity? Feel free to add it below.

About the Author

Tracy Hurley is a D&D blogger, podcaster, and freelance game designer. On any given night, there is a 50% chance you will find her on Twitter as @SarahDarkmagic, a 10% chance you'll find her on the Tome Show, 4Geeks4e, or the DM Round Table, a 25% chance she's home plotting world domination with her husband, and a 15% chance she's planning a sneak attack. She is rarely surprised, never flat-footed, and uses Encounter powers as At-Wills.

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