Friday, January 23, 2015

Looking for a Great Midwestern Family Vacation? Gen Con Registration Opens Today!

Fun is in the eye of the beholder.
Today at noon (EST), badge registration opens for Gen Con Indy, the largest tabletop gaming convention in the United States!

We've been taking kids with us to this incredible event since Ranger was two, and this year he's old enough (9) to need his own badge.

The spectacle of cosplayers, giant games, and innovative interactive displays bewitch even toddlers. All our kids were agog at pirate musicians, belly dancers, superheros and supervillains. The kids have amassed photos with characters like the Mad Hatter, friendly dragons, the World's Tallest Leprechaun (a very talented stilt-walker), Storm Troopers, Waldo and other characters from our collective imagination.

After our first day with two-year-old Ranger at his first Gen Con, he wanted to wear a costume. Year One he kept wearing generic superhero shirt with a removable silver lamé cape. After that, he was a pint-sized Mario who kept growing. His little sister Scout soon joined in as a wee Luigi. A few years later, she became Lola, from the British children's books, and Ranger was even Lola's older brother Charlie for a day. More recently she and sister Rogue have hit the con as princesses. This year we're hoping to engineer some great game-themed costumed, but I'll save those for a later post.

The seemingly infinite opportunity for hands-on play in venues like the games library, demos in the main hall, Rio Grande room, open gaming, and Indie Games on Demand offer families opportunity to play lots of games together and with new people.

Ranger has been enjoying Paizo's Pathfinder Kids offerings. He especially loves how Scotty's Brewhouse offers a Pathfinder Tavern menu and decor. One of their Pathfinder posters was given to him by a kind manager and remains the pride of his room years later.

Gen Con has always had a great family gaming presence. Publishers like R & R Games, Out of the Box, Calliope, and Blue Orange games have long been dedicated to producing games compelling enough for adult hobbyists, but accessible enough for kids and teens. We were very excited to welcome kids' publisher HABA games in 2014.

As hobby gaming grows in popularity, game publishers like Asmodee, Paizo, Rio Grande, Fireside and Stronghold Games are offering more family offerings. Venerable franchises like Catan and Carcassonne are creating kids' editions. With these changes, Gen Con's main hall and events have more to offer families and parents who are bringing up kids in the hobby.

All these publishers producing family games means more great gaming opportunities in the main hall. We love playing giant games (like Out of the Box's Word on the Street and Calliope's Tsuro) and regular sized games in the Family Fun Pavilion of the exhibit hall.

A great game of Wassalpoag's protoype Echidna Traffic Jam

If you want a gaming getaway with the kids, Gen Con is hard to beat. Its Indianapolis location makes transportation and lodging more affordable.

Jim and I will highlight some of our favorite Gen Con offerings for families in upcoming weeks, and we'll post updates on our Gaming for Good presence at Gen Con.

But now, I need to go buy Ranger's first Gen Con badge. See you there?