By Robert Goode
This weekend marked GenCon50 as thousands of gamers of all stripes, once again invaded the Indianapolis Convention Center AND Lucas Oil Stadium to attend the granddaddy of gaming conventions. In fact, one of the most interesting exhibits of the convention was placed literally on the 50-yard line where they had erected a museum of sorts dedicated to the history of GenCon and tabletop gaming itself.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the historic convention that first started in 1967 by a small company named TSR. Just a few years later in 1974, TSR released the very first edition of Dungeons and Dragons by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, a game that has been controversial at times but undeniably popular and one of the most influential games ever conceived. These days, the convention boasts upwards of 80,000 attendees and this year was the first ever time that the convention actually sold out!
The historic display was sized specifically to the dimensions of “Horticulture Hall”, the location of the first GenCon in Lake Geneva WI. This area was surprisingly small compared to today’s convention, and contained a number of fascinating artifacts from the history of gaming. Included in the exhibit were hand written manuscripts of original rules sets, letters from Gygax himself about corrections that needed to be made, and some of the earliest versions of some of the most influential games ever made.
Moving along through time, another part of display described the introduction of Magic: the Gathering and the birth of the collectible card game. One glass case held multiple copies of MtG’s most valuable cards such as “Black Lotus” and the mox cards.
While not really the focus of GenCon, the entire display was rather impressive and for someone that has a true love of gaming, it was a bit moving. It was definitely a highlight of this year’s convention.