Gen Con, one of the largest and longest running gaming conventions in the world, turned 50 last week. This was the first year that the show completely sold out so it’s unsurprising that it was the biggest turnout since they began in 1968 at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with a record turn-out of 207,979 attendees.
“Our team is thrilled to continue setting new records,” said Adrian Swartout, Gen Con CEO. “We made a decision early in planning GenCon 50 to optimize the attendee experience while still continuing to grow the convention to new attendance levels,” “By adding the field level of Lucas Oil Stadium, improving space planning, and carefully restructuring attendance thresholds by badge type, we realized record gains, while maintaining a world-class experience for attendees.”
The convention used Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, featuring a concert from Grammy award winning rock band, They Might Be Giants, which set another record as Gen Con’s largest ever single event with more than 5,500 tickets sold. The expansion into this new, additional venue allowed them to increase the size of their 24-hour games library, additional event space, and a special museum exhibition that highlighted 50 years of gaming history and artifacts.
“Gen Con 50 was an epic experience for its attendees and for the city of Indianapolis,” said Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy, “It’s been wonderful to be part of Gen Con’s growth over the past 15 years here into a $73 million event for Central Indiana. We look forward to hosting it for many years to come. Congratulations to Adrian Swartout, David Hoppe, Peter Adkison, and everyone on the Gen Con team for a fantastic golden anniversary celebration.”
The highlight of the costume concert was easily convention goer Kendalyn Johnson as Han Solo riding a tauntaun. Kendalyn and her mother, Lisa Hutchinson, spent almost a year creating the very impressive constume in which Johnson, as Solo, appears to ride the tauntaun by walking on stilts and having fake legs connected to the outside of the animal.
Weddings were a surprising but adorable theme this year. Not only did one couple get engaged at the event but gaming fans Tim and Frieden Johnson actually got married on site at Lucas Field Oil Stadium on Thursday, the first day of Gen Con. The pair have actually been married for two years but never had a ceremony because in Frieden’s own words, she was “super knocked up” at the time of the actual wedding.
This year’s convention featured approximately 500 exhibitors, over 19,000 ticketed events, and more than $26,000 raised for local charity partner Child Advocates.
“Child Advocates was so excited to be the official charity partner of Gen Con 50,” said Cynthia K. Booth, Executive Director of Child Advocates, Inc. “Our excitement gave way to true appreciation as we realized how Gen Con attendees took our mission to heart: a safe and permanent home for our children. Many children’s lives will be forever changed by Gen Con’s generosity.”
Were you lucky enough to attend Gen Con 50? Let us know your favorite moments from the event!