Gen Con reschedules to September, plans ‘hybrid’ event

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Gen Con attendance has risen from 20,000 in 2003, its first year in Indianapolis, to 70,000 in 2019. Estimated economic impact has more than tripled in that time, from $23.4 million to $74.7 million. (IBJ file photo)

Gen Con plans to delay its annual convention in Indianapolis by more than a month, in hopes of creating a hybrid event ahead of what is expected to be lower attendance than in years’ past.

The Seattle-based convention, which typically draws about 70,000 people to the Indiana Convention Center each year, will run Sept. 16-19, instead of Aug. 5-8 as originally planned. Gen Con canceled its 2020 in-person convention because of the pandemic in favor of online offerings.

In a statement on Gen Con’s website, event organizers said they believe the calendar change is the “best approach both to meet the many challenges of the moment and to explore possibilities for the future.”

Gen Con said it plans to offer an in-person convention with capped attendance, at-home events through the convention website and live-streaming services, and through partnerships with local game stores for pop-up activities.

The convention said it plans to “adapt to conditions as they are in September,” but the total in-person attendance will be determined by the Marion County Public Health Department.

“With the rollout of effective vaccines, we look forward to an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and an eventual return to normal convention conditions, but the timeline is far from certain,” Gen Con said in its statement. “In consultation with public health experts and local partners, with community feedback in mind, and with cautious optimism, we are moving forward with planning while maintaining the ability to shift course as needed to meet the requirements of changing conditions.”

The convention has not yet set dates for registration, but plans to do so in the coming months. Indianapolis will host Gen Con through 2026.

“Convention planning happens on a long timeline, and we appreciate your continued patience as we tread these murky waters,” the group said.

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