Thoughts on Gen Con Indy

August 14, 2008
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No, I'm not going to mock the costumed hoards that are converging on the Convention Center over the next few days for Gen Con. Instead, I'm just going to share some observations on the event, its people, and its subject.

  • I don't see a huge difference between a person wearing a Marvin Harrison jersey and a person wearing a Jedi knight robe. Both are engaging in fantasy. Neither poses a threat.

  • I don't find a huge difference between a group of people gathered around a table playing Wizards of Warcraft and a group of people gathered around a table playing Texas Hold 'Em. Both are playing a game that involves interaction with other human beings--which beats watching TV.

  • What's David Faustino (late of "Married with Children") doing at Gen Con as a celebrity guest? I mean, nothing against the guy, but I don't see the connection.

  • As a teen, I read a fair amount of science fiction but I've slacked off since then. I'm sure there's great stuff still being written. If anyone knows a writer in the genre who can hold a candle to Robert Silverberg in his prime, let me know here.

  • I'm a big fan of board games--preferring ones that don't take hours to learn. You want to play Parcheesi, Monopoly (if you play by the rules--no Free Parking nonsense) or something more esoteric like Dvonn, I'm there. One thing that I don't think the general public realizes is that there are lots of traditional games available at Gen Con. Not everything available for play or sale involves hit points, trading cards and multi-sided dice.

  •  Are we reaching a point where great science fiction and fantasy films of the past no longer have any power? Have CGI effects and rapid editing jaded us to a point where we can't experience the thrills of earlier films? Can a kid still watch "Forbidden Planet" or "Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers" or "Jason and the Argonauts" with anything like the awe and pleasure that I felt when first seeing them?

  • It would be a challenge to find a racist at a sci-fi/fantasy gathering. Once you've accepted blue people, intelligent creatures covered with fur, and beasts with exposed brains, it's difficult to have irrational hatred of your fellow humans.

Your thoughts on Gen Con, recent science fiction and fantasy, gaming, etc.?
  • Since reading about David Faustino's appearance at Gen Con in The Star, and later wikipedia-ing him to discover there is actually no recognizable reason for him to be there, a co-worker and I have been asking the same question.
  • Excellent observations. I think your first comment was quite appropos. I find it amazing that some may think dressing up as a Stormtrooper or Klingon denotes a mental condition whereas painting one's body in their football team's colors, wear a stupid foam headpiece and shaking your bare chest in 20 degree weather is pefectly normal if not expected behavior.
  • As to racism, I rode the bus home with some GenConners yesterday. They were having a conversation about their parents being racists and how horrible it is. Thanks for explaining the connection.
  • I like the people in costume! I saw Rainbow Brite at lunch and didn't get the connection to GenCon. As a former geek / comic book reader, I think it's all harmless fun.

    As far as Sci-fi reading goes, I don't read much of it myself, but picked up The Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. HBO's new show, True Blood which premiers next month, is based on them, so it piqued my interest. It's an easy and entertaining read and slighlty different from other vampire novels, in that the vampires have come out of the coffin and are now a recognized minority in the world. HBO has been running some clever and funny promos for the show such as, In Focus: Vampires in Amercia, and a few other spots. The show is helmed by Alan Ball creator of Six Feet Under. I'm going to check it out. It also stars Oscar winner, Anna Paquin.
  • Agree with HoosierDaddy and point #1 which I have echoed myself before.

    I went to GenCon last and took my teenage daughter and friend on the Sunday afternoon family day to meet Hero's cheerleader, Hayden P. I enjoyed seeing all the booths, displays, etc. While some of it was a bit too much for me, there's plenty of good clean gaming fun going on and I dont see why people have a tendency to knock or make fun of the attendees. Many of them travel and invest a lot of time and money, and have responsible and well-paying jobs to afford them their hobby.

    We should welcome this convention and all its attendees with open arms! May the force be with you! Live long and prosper!
  • Good points all, but man, do I miss working downtown, where I can spend a few hours at an outdoor cafe people-watching during GenCon. That and the State Fair, in the same week? Heaven!
  • Strategy games are good- especially when someone smarter helps you learn the strategies:) Speaking of harmless fun - how about games that get you think (gasp)- even if it's collectively as a team? Tri-Bond, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit anyone?

    I know kind of nerdy but I guess that's welcome company for me. Or how about Scattegories where you and friends can have a great time laughing at yourselves.

    I hope kids can still get into “Jason and the Argonauts” I mean when Jason fights the hydra it looks so real you've gotta love that. I hope my past freshmen English students enjoyed the special effects as much as I did.

    Loved your comment on racism not being a part of Gen Con participants. AMEN - we can all learn something by welcoming a change of scenery downtown during GenCon and every where.

    You've gotta love variety - spice of life does it for me! Welcome Gen Con to Indy.
  • Kids' imaginations are still strong and active - I'm a child of the Star Wars generation (the first one, anyway) but I still loved watching The Wizard of Oz every year on TV, despite its decidedly low-tech effects. It's probably a matter of exposure - if you bombard kids with too much of the ADHD-inducing TV programming now popular, they might squirm through an old classic like Jason and the Argonauts (a favorite of mine, too!), but that's the beauty of being a parent. You can imprint your kids with that stuff when they're still too young to be reached directly by the Disney marketing machine or indirectly through their peers. :-)

    Now you're making me want to have kids so I can indoctrinate them with geek culture and make them social pariahs when they go to school. Don't let my fiancee see this!
  • I work downtown, and I have to agree with Flack. Everyone in our office loves to see the start of Gen Con. It's entertaining and harmless.
  • I agree completely. Not only should we and the INDY STAR not be making fun of them for dressing up in costumes and playing games and such, we should be thanking Gen Con and the attendees for coming to Indianapolis and stimulating our local economy and spending their money in OUR city. Especially now considering the state of the economy.
    Also, the editor of the Indy Star should be fired for the title of the article this morning...It's Geek Week in Indy. I would not be calling them names, especially as a headline in the newspaper. C'mon. I thought we were all grown ups. I also thought the editor of the Indy Star was a professional. I guess not. Maybe next time, he'll think twice about putting a ridiculous headline that could cause some people to think that Indianapolis does not welcome them to our city because one person, did not have enough common sense to think before they acted. Grow up.
  • I also work downtown, and we have made sure we schedule lunches outside every day its nice. We love seeing the 'entertainment' and it gets us talking. Its fun, harmless and enjoyable. IT makes our city feel alive. Welcome Gen Con. We look forward to your retrun each year around this time. To the fair I go tomorrow!
  • G:

    FYI, many of the folks who will be in attendance at GenCon wear the title of Geek as a badge of pride . . . so I doubt that the Star headline would cause a lot of the attendees any serious offense. It's only to non-geeks that geek is an insulting word. :-)

    Yours geekily,
  • As one of those geeks (and a female one at that) who decend upon the city of Indianapolis each each, I can say without a doubt that being called a 'Geek' is sooooooooooo not a big deal. Wearing costumes outside of Holloween and not having everyone stare at you like you're crazy and having people treat you nicely and ask to know what your costume is all about is really, really great.

    Every time I've come to gencon and Indy, I've had a good experience with the locals.

    Its nice to see they've had a good experience with us.

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