Gen Con 50 Retrospective Panels & Featured Presenters
As part of the Gen Con 50 celebration, there will be over a dozen curated panels covering the history of Gen Con! Topics cover the gamut from The First Gen Con: How It Began; The Launch of Magic: The Gathering; Invasion Of The Meeples; TSR Comes of Age, and even an inside scoop on running Gen Con, just to name a few.
These events will be held in the ICC : Room 105. Search for "Gen Con 50" for details on these events and for a list of all the events being hosted as part of our Gen Con 50 celebration!
You can also use this link to see all panels and museum tours being hosted at Gen Con 50 covering the history of Gen Con. Here is a detailed list of seminar events, which again, are in room 105 of the Indiana Convention Center:
|50 Years of Gen Con Events, in 90 Minutes||Matt Shoemaker||Matt Shoemaker has input 50 years of Gen Con event history into a database. Come see his findings and ask questions like, "How many Settlers of Catan games have been run at Gen Con?"||"Thu 11am"|
|The First Gen Con --- How it all began||Jon Peterson||What were the first Gen Cons like? How did they get organized? Who was there? What did they play? Come hear from 5 people who were there: Mike Carr, Scott Duncan, Bill Speer, Mike Reese, and Tom Wham.||"Thu 1pm"||Scott Duncan, Bill Speer, Mike Carr, Mike Reese, Tom Wham|
|The Launch of Magic: The Gathering||Peter Adkison||In 1993, Magic: The Gathering launched at Gen Con. Come hear stories from WotC staff who were there, trying to explain starter decks and booster packs.||"Thu 3pm"||Skaff Elias, Lisa Stevens, Cathleen Adkison, Beverly Marshall Saling, Carol Monahan|
|TCG's Duel for Mastery||Scott Elliott||Magic: The Gathering created a new category of games. Hear Skaff Elias, John Zinser, Mike Elliott, Justin Gary, and Eric Lang tell stories of designing TCGs that dared to duel against the master.||"Thu 5pm"||Skaff Elias, John Zinser, Mike Elliott, Eric Lang, Justin Gary|
|D&D Today||Jon Peterson||Hang out with the D&D 5th edition design team - including Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford - for a discussion of the state of the D&D union today, and their vision of an exciting future!||"Thu 7pm"||Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Matt Mercer|
|Fantasy Conquers Gen Con||Jon Peterson||In 1974 Dungeons & Dragons was launched and Gen Con would never be the same. Hear stories from the earliest days of D&D at Gen Con from Tim Kask, Dave Megarry, Mike Carr, and Luke Gygax.||"Fri 10am"||Tim Kask, Dave Megarry, Mike Carr, Luke Gygax, Tom Wham|
|The Ancient Sisterhood of Gaming History||Peter Adkison||Join Lisa Stevens, Adrian Swartout, Beverly Marshall Saling, Nicole Lindroos, and Jenny Bendel as they share stories about being a female games professional over the past decades.||"Fri Noon"||Beverly Marshall Saling, Adrian Swartout, Lisa Stevens, Jenny Bendel, Nicole Lindroos|
|Invasion of the Meeples||Peter Adkison||Boardgames have been at Gen Con since the earliest days. Come hear Christian Petersen, Larry Roznai, Eric Lang, Marc Miller, and Mike Gray tell stories of boardgames at Gen Con.||"Fri 2pm"||Christian Petersen, Larry Roznai, Eric Lang, Marc Miller, Mike Gray|
|Open Source D&D||Michael Witwer||In 1999, WotC open-sourced D&D by launching the d20 System. Come hear d20 architect, Ryan Dancey, discuss d20 with d20 publishers, Eric Mona, Monte Cook, John Nephew, and John Zinser.||"Fri 4pm"||Ryan Dancey, Monte Cook, Erik Mona, John Nephew, John Zinser|
|The Embrace of Night||Jon Peterson||In 1991 White Wolf launched Vampire: The Masquerade. Join White Wolf staff who were there at the time: Steve Weick, Mark Rein-Hagen, Richard Thomas, and Lisa Stevens.||"Fri 6pm"||Mark Rein*Hagen, Lisa Stevens, Steve Weick, Richard Thomas|
|TSR Comes of Age||Jon Peterson||Dungeons & Dragons was a national craze by the 1980's. Come hear stories of the D&D heyday from Frank Mentzer, Zeb Cook, Steve Winter, and Harold Johnson.||Sat 10am||Frank Mentzer, Harold Johnson, Steve Winter, Merle Rasmussen|
|In the Shadow of the Castle||Robin Laws||In the 80's D&D ruled Gen Con from its big castle in the exhibit hall. Hear stories from the other side of the moat, from Steve Jackson, Mike Pondsmith, Greg Stafford, John Nephew, and Jordan Weisman.||"Sat Noon"||Steve Jackson, Mike Pondsmith, Greg Stafford, John Nephew, Jordan Weisman|
|Wizards Resurrects D&D||Peter Adkison||Days after acquiring D&D in 1997, WotC announced they would begin development of 3rd Edition D&D. Join designers Skip Williams, Monte Cook, Rich Baker, and Jonathan Tweet as they reminisce.||"Sat 2pm"||Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams, Rich Baker|
|Accessorize! Gamers Know It's Not Just for Fashionistas||Peter Adkison||Gamers love accessories---dice, modular terrain, t-shirts, and souveniers. Come join Stefan Pokorny, Barbara Vantilberg, Lou Zocchi, and Michael Bowling for stories and maybe some free giveaways!||"Sat 4pm"||Barbara Van Tilberg, Stefan Pokorny, Lou Zocchi, Michael Bowling|
|Roleplaying on Your Feet||Jon Peterson||Some roleplayers seek more immersive experiences. Hear Gen Con stories from veterans of cosplay (Anne Brown), larping (David Simkins and Drew Biddle), and True Dungeon (Jeff Martin).||"Sun 10am"||Anne Brown, Jeff Martin, David Simkins, Andrew Biddle|
|Running Gen Con --- The Inside Scoop!||Peter Adkison||What's it like to actually organize Gen Con? Come hear war stories from current and past managers of Gen Con, Harold Johnson, Skip Williams, David Conant, and Adrian Swartout.||"Sun Noon"||Adrian Swartout, Skip Williams, Harold Johnson, Dave Conant|
|Creative Millennium: RPGs at the turn of the century||Luke Crane||Join seminal RPG designers Ron Edwards, Jared Sorensen, and D. Vincent Baker from the Indie RPG movement, and designers James Wallis and Jonathan Tweet who inspired them.||"Sun 2pm"||Jonathan Tweet, James Wallis, Vincent Baker, Ron Edwards, Jared Sorensen|
Gen Con 50 Featured Presenters
Gen Con is proud to welcome the following Featured Presenters who will be participating in the retrospective panels. Biographies and pictures will be forthcoming.
Guests are subject to change.
Cathleen S. Adkison is part of the team that created Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Since then, Cathleen finished her executive management program at UW, has been on the board of other gaming start-ups, and went back to school to study writing and psychology. She continues to write story and poetry content for different publications, including Peter D. Adkison’s Chaldea project. In Cathleen’s copious spare time, she's traveled the globe while honing her photography skills. Cathleen is also a hiker and horseback rider and enjoys being outside as much as she enjoys being inside and working in the gaming industry.
First D&D game, 1986, Peter Adkisons’ apartment, Kent WA. First Gen Con, Milwaukee, 2003. Attended all Gen Cons in Indianapolis. While looking for ways to spend constructive time with his son Peter, he became a dedicated wargamer. This became a major part of their lives while he was in the military. Had three tours to Korea, Chaplain 1st Inf BDE, Camp Casey; Adjutant 121US community hospital Seoul; Chief, Plans and operation/USFK Surgeon, Seoul. The display he has placed in the GenCon museum is a complete display of all magic playing cards printed in the first 10 years of Magic, and commemorates the initial release of MTG at GenCon 1993.
An award-winning game designer and best-selling author, Rich’s career in the gaming industry began in 1991 with TSR, Inc. He’s worked on Dungeons & Dragons in its 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Editions. Some of his credits include the Birthright Campaign Setting, Forge of Fury, 3e Forgotten Realms, 4e Dark Sun, and Elemental Evil: Princes of the Apocalypse. He currently heads up Sasquatch Game Studio, a small-press publisher behind the Primeval Thule Campaign Setting and the new Alternity Science Fiction RPG. Rich is also launching a new military SF novel series with Tor Books; the first book, Valiant Dust, comes out in November. Rich resides in the Seattle area with his wife Kim and their daughters, Alex and Hannah.
Vincent Baker has been creating and independently publishing tabletop games since 2002. He's written around a dozen tabletop rpgs, including some of the most award-winning, critically acclaimed, influential, and controversial indie rpgs: kill puppies for satan, Dogs in the Vineyard, and, with co-creator Meguey Baker, Apocalypse World. He was the administrator of The Forge (indie-rpgs.com) for many years, and maintains its archives. He lives in an old mill town in New England with Meguey and their sons.
Champion of creatives, nerdery and total badasses.
Drew is a 20+ year veteran storyteller for both tabletop and live action roleplaying games. He enjoys running recruitment and new player focused games as well as player focused stories. He received the Mind’s Eye Society Mentor of the Year award and has continued to mentor new Storytellers for organized and troupe play. His most recent project, Kilroy Gamed Here, is a blog dedicated to discussing game design and implementation as well as tips and tricks for GMs and player alike. Rumor has it he likes cats, and that his boss is a 15 year old Persian named Croaker.
Michael Bowling is a dice designer and owner of Crystal Caste, founded in 1997. Introduced to RPG gaming during his undergrad years in the mid-80’s, Michael became intrigued not only with the game but with the concept of making unique dice. Eventually a never-before-seen design was developed and outlined in Michael’s MBA thesis. Exhibiting for the first time at GenCon in 1998, the fledgling company sold over 10,000 pieces of their new crystal shape before the show finished. Michael has an electrical engineering degree, an MBA, and resides in Tucson, Arizona. This year marks his 20th exhibiting at GenCon.
Anne K. Brown has coordinated the Gen Con Costume Contest since 1997, meeting many interesting people and having great fun through this event. Anne took on the costume contest while working at TSR, Inc., where she began in 1989 as Assistant Editor for Dragon magazine, and later moved to the games division, working in the worlds of Greyhawk, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, and Birthright. She is the author of ten books, most recently, The Storyteller’s Thesaurus with James M. Ward. Currently, Anne is the Communications Coordinator for a large school district and writes ghost stories when she can find the time.
Mike Carr began gaming as a teenager. He joined the International Federation of Wargaming (IFW) and met Gary Gygax, who encouraged him to self-publish his aerial dogfighting game Fight in the Skies through the IFW’s Wargame Inventors Guild. The 5th Edition was one of TSR’s first boxed games in 1976, retitled as Dawn Patrol in 1982. Working at TSR from 1976 to 1983, he wrote the B1 Module In Search of the Unknown and edited the Monster Manual, Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide. Mike attended Gen Con in 1968 and ran the very first event, a Fight in the Skies game. He is the only person who has attended every Gen Con and his game (now Dawn Patrol) is the only one played there every year.
Dave grew up in Lake Geneva, WI in the 70s, "hanging out" at TSR's Dungeon Hobby Shop, eventually getting a job working in TSR's Consumer Services division (1979-1983), helping to manage the GEN CON conventions (the main con, GEN CON East, and GEN CON South) as well as all of TSR's local mini conventions. After a time, he eventually returned to TSR to manage the Pre-Press Department (1993-1997) until WOTC purchased the company and it moved to Seattle. Since then he worked as an IT Project Manager for an insurance company and then as a Digital Asset Manager for American Girl (part of Mattel) until retirement.
Monte Cook has written hundreds of roleplaying game products, along with numerous short stories, novels, nonfiction titles, tabletop strategy games, and comic books. He is probably best known for his work on such notable titles as Planescape, Ptolus, the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (which he codesigned with Jonathan Tweet and Skip Williams), Arcana Evolved, Numenera, and the Cypher System. He is a cofounder of Monte Cook Games, and works there as creative director and lead designer. He is currently hard at work on Invisible Sun, a game of surrealistic fantasy.
Luke Crane is the Head of Games at Kickstarter and the designer of indie RPGs like the Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard and Burning Empires. He lives in an emerald cave in New York City with a furry goblin named Danzig.
Jeremy Crawford is the lead rules developer of Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast, as well as the game’s managing editor. He is the co-lead designer of 5th edition, the lead designer of its Player’s Handbook, and the co-lead designer of its Dungeon Master’s Guide. Over the past decade, he has worked on numerous books for the game, spanning all its editions. Before coming to Wizards, he co-designed the Blue Rose roleplaying game and wrote for Mutants & Masterminds and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. He can be reached on Twitter (@JeremyECrawford), where he continues the Sage Advice tradition.
Ryan S. Dancey co-created the Legend of the Five Rings, was the VP of Tabletop RPGs in charge of the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, and was responsible for the OGL and D20 System Trademark License. He has worked in a variety of creative and executive roles in the tabletop and videogame industry and is currently a Director at Alderac Entertainment Group.
Scott started serious gaming in the 60's with Avalon Hill's early offerings like Gettysburg, Afrika Korps, Stalingrad, etc. Scott met Bill Speer and they, with Gary Gygax, formed the IFW which led to the first broad topic game con in '67 in Malvern, PA. This was followed the next year by the first Gen Con. The IFW sponsored that event and several of the following Gen Cons.
Ron Edwards is an American game designer and publisher. He addresses table-top role-playing as a new social and creative activity with diverse means and goals. He advocates for creator-owned publishing and for clear, purposeful design. His games are Sorcerer, Elfs, Trollbabe, It Was a Mutual Decision, Spione, S/Lay w/Me, Shahida, Circle of Hands, and in preparation, Amerikkka. Themes in his work include "underground" fantasy, surrealism, anti-heroism, gender, dark humor, and passion. His current projects concern comics and role-playing, and an analysis of role-playing as an activity and phenomenon.
Skaff Elias is the vice-president of Three Donkeys LLC, a game design and consulting company. He was a Senior Vice President for Wizards of the Coast, a division of Hasbro. Skaff was responsible for the design and development of many Wizards' card games and was the primary architect of the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour. Skaff was the brand and business manager for Magic: The Gathering during its formative years. Skaff received a B. A. in Physics from Princeton University and was studying for his Ph.D. in Mathematics at University of Pennsylvania before Richard Garfield made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Mike Elliott is a Seattle based freelance game designer. Mike started his career at Wizards of the Coast working on Magic and designed well over 1000 cards and many mechanics such as Slivers. He has designed 20 trading card games, including the hit Japanese trading card games Duel Masters and Battle Spirits. His tabletop designs include the Thunderstone line, Quarriors, Star Trek Fleet Captains, and the recent Dice Masters line. Oh, and he has his own anime character in Japan as well. His hobbies include hiking and world domination.
Scott has been a gaming event organizer for more than 25 years. After several years of work in Organized Play and sales with Upper Deck, he joined the Gen Con team in 2009. Scott loves to play board games, RPGs, & TCGs. In 2016 Scott & his family had their first board game, DragonStone Mine!, published after a successful Kickstarter.
Matt Forbeck is an award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author and game designer with over thirty novels and countless games published to date. His latest work includes the Star Wars: Rogue One junior novel, Dungeonology, Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger, Halo: New Blood, the Magic: The Gathering comics, The Marvel Encyclopedia, and the upcoming Shotguns & Sorcery tabletop roleplaying game based on his novels. He lives in Beloit, WI, with his wife and five children, including a set of quadruplets. For more about him and his work, visit Forbeck.com.
Justin Gary is a game designer living in San Diego, California. He began his career as a Professional Magic Player, winning US National, World, and Pro Tour Championships. He has designed games for Marvel, DC, Blizzard, and the Wharton School of Business. He is probably best known for creating the award-winning deckbuilding game Ascension and for his sick dance moves.
Mike Gray started his long career in games in 1978 at Milton Bradley. After designing 36 published games at MB, he was hired by Gary Gygax in 1981 to manage Game Design at TSR. As Manager, he designed two modules, wrote two branching adventures and designed the Fantasy Forest game. In 1984, Mike was rehired back at MB where he designed Fortress America, Shogun, Mall Madness, Dream Phone, Omega Virus and many others. Mike retired from Hasbro in 2013 as Senior Director of Games Concept Acquisition.
Luke Gygax was fortunate enough to be born the son of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and Founder of Gen Con. Luke’s earliest memories are of playing D&D with his Dad delving through iconic modules like The Village of Hommlett, Against the Giants, the Drow series and many more. That adventurous spirit inspired him to join the Army at the age of 18, and 27 years later he is still serving. Luke is also the Founder of Gary Con, a memorial convention honoring the life and works of his father, held annually each March in Lake Geneva, WI
International and NYT Best-selling fantasy author Tracy Hickman is best known for the ‘Dragonlance’ series of fantasy novels and has over sixty books in print. He is currently the Director of Story Design at THE VOID – a company creating HYPR-Reality™ experiences in virtual reality. Laura is the first published woman designer of a D&D adventure module and the coauthor with Tracy of the original ‘Ravenloft.’ A record of both Tracy and Laura Hickman's DNA currently orbits on the international space station and he is the writer and editor of the first science-fiction movie actually filmed in space.
Kenneth Hite is the Lead Designer of Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition. He has designed, written, or co-authored over 100 RPG books, including GURPS Horror, The Day After Ragnarok, Trail of Cthulhu, Bookhounds of London, Qelong, The Fall of DELTA GREEN, The Dracula Dossier, and Night’s Black Agents. Other works include Tour de Lovecraft: the Tales, Cthulhu 101, The Nazi Occult (Osprey), several Mythos short stories, the “Lost in Lovecraft” column for Weird Tales, and four Lovecraftian children’s books. He is half of the award-winning podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, and an Artistic Associate at Chicago’s WildClaw Theatre.
Steve Jackson has been designing games for 40 years and has no plans to stop. His other interests include gardening, dinosaurs, trains, science fiction, and Lego. In his copious free time, he reads, eats, and sleeps. His first hit was Ogre. Later came Car Wars . . . followed by Illuminati, then GURPS, the "Generic Universal Roleplaying System," and most recently Munchkin and Zombie Dice. His current projects include various Munchkin follow-ups; a game about conspiracies; a new edition of Car Wars; and the quest to translate his work into digital form. He is either a citizen of the Internet, or a Texan, depending on who’s asking.
Harold worked for TSR from 1979 to 1999 and spearheaded the transition of the hobby gaming industry into the many cross markets served today. He is the author of several classic adventures, including C1, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, co-creator of the DRAGONLANCE® saga, and was Director of Games for TSR in the ‘80s, He attended his first GEN CON in 1976, and has never missed a GEN CON since, serving first as a volunteer game master and later as part of the staff and show management. In 1986, he was named Director of Customer Services at GEN CON Milwaukee. Today Harold is a co-owner of game conventions, freelancer to the gaming industry, marketing consultant, and co-owner of the Breadloaf Bookshop in downtown Lake Geneva, WI.
Tim discovered Avalon Hill D-Day in 6th grade, and has been hooked since. He playtested D&D in ’74 for Gary, and was the 1st full-time employee of TSR Hobbies in ’75. In that capacity, he edited 4 supplements and helped Gary define Basic and Advanced. He started DRAGON and LITTLE WARS magazines in ’76. After leaving TSR in ’80, founded ADVENTURE GAMING as Publisher and Editor. Tim has two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and has been married 47 years to Cheryl. He favors cats. He continues to write for his own imprint, Celtic Studios, as well as other publishers and blogs such as Dragon Grumbles.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Eric is an 18 year veteran of the game industry. He has designed or developed over a hundred licensed games such as Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, A Game of Thrones, Warhammer, XCOM, Call of Cthulhu. He's also designed many original themed games such as Quarriors!, Arcadia Quest, Duelyst, Blood Rage and Rising Sun. He is currently the Director of Game Design at CMON Ltd.
Robin D. Laws designed such roleplaying games as Hillfolk, Feng Shui, The Esoterrorists, and Ashen Stars. He is the author of eight novels plus the short story collection New Tales of the Yellow Sign, and has edited five original short fiction anthologies. Robin is the winner of five Gold and five Silver ENnie Awards and the coveted Diana Jones Award. His works have been translated into ten languages. Hear his soothing voice on the weekly podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.
Nicole Lindroos entered the game industry in 1989, when she co-founded Adventures Unlimited magazine. She served on the board of GAMA and as the chair of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art and Design, volunteered both on the advisory committee and as the head of the Origins Awards, and has been an active freelancer for companies including Ars Magica, Earthdawn, Everway and Vampire: the Masquerade. Since the year 2000 Nicole has been co-owner and General Manager of Green Ronin Publishing, and most recently has been the project manager for Green Ronin's Blue Rose and Lost Citadel Roleplaying lines and a contributor to the Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana setting as part of Green Ronin's partnership with Wil Wheaton and Geek & Sundry.
James Lowder is the author of the bestselling, widely translated dark fantasy novels Prince of Lies and Knight of the Black Rose; short fiction for such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street; comic book scripts for Image, Moonstone, and DC; and RPG material for TSR, White Wolf, and Chaosium. As an editor, he has directed novel lines or series for both large and small publishing houses, edited nearly two dozen anthologies, and currently serves as Chaosium’s executive fiction editor. His work has received five Origins Awards and an ENnie Award, and been a finalist for the International Horror Guild Award and the Stoker Award.
Jeff Martin, creator and owner of True Dungeon, has been attending Gen Con since 1982 – though he is not as old as he sounds (or looks). As a child, Jeff was a bit odd and he loved to make haunted houses in his neighbor’s basements. As a grown-up, Jeff had the privilege of being President (and Head Dice Polisher) of Dwarven Forge for ten years where he made lots of cool small stuff. Now, he makes lots of cool big stuff (like castle walls, Beholders and lava pits) for True Dungeon – a live-action D&D immersive experience. Jeff lives in southern Illinois with his very understanding family.
Mike Mearls leads the Dungeons & Dragons creative team. He led the design of D&D fifth edition and oversees the game’s expansions and storylines. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game and freelance work on a variety of RPGs, including Vampire: the Masquerade and Unknown Armies. When not working on games he herds a flock of four cats, two dogs, and a chaotic neutral toddler.
David started playing Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg in about 1967 and eventually fell into David Arneson's basement Napoleonic Campaign in 1968 (he is the Emperor of Austria, so treat him accordingly..;). He designed Dungeon! in the Fall of 1972 (Oct) after almost being drafted into the U.S. Army in the previous September (they threw him out as he was too skinny).He worked briefly for TSR in 1976 as Treasurer and did programming for video consoles (Colecovision) in the 1980's but ultimately became a software tester in the medical and process control industries. He is now retired and is exploring his re-entry into the gaming world as a game designer.
Since Bill's mom vetoed visiting GenCon 10 at the Playboy club when he was eleven, he's been to every GenCon since. At sixteen he decided RPGs "belonged in a museum" and resolved to preserve the best copy of every FRP item ever printed in English. Forty years later, his collection of 11,000 different items, including hundreds of rare manuscripts, tournament adventures, and unique pieces, truly is a museum. Bill is married to Susan, who lovingly indulges his collecting. They have a boy and girl, ages nine and seven, that also love adventure gaming. They live in the Chicago suburbs.
Frank was an employee of TSR from 1980 to 1986, and is best known for writing the D&D “Red Box” series, which sold nearly 50 million copies in 12 languages. After starting the Role Playing Game Association in 1981, he wrote dozens of published adventures and tournaments. He was the Creative Aide for Gary Gygax from 1982-86, and remained a lifelong friend. In his 35+ years experience as an auctioneer at 44 GenCon conventions, he has accumulated over 10,000 RPG and board games. Frank regularly appears at 10-12 game conventions per year.
Marc Miller is an award-winning game designer with experience reaching back forty years. He playtested John Hill’s original Squad Leader; he once slept overnight in Jim Dunnigan’s office; his company published a game by Gary Gygax. He once won a Hunt For Red October naval miniatures game refereed by Tom Clancy. He designed the best-selling science-fiction role-playing game of all time. Marc was the second role-playing game designer inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame, and his role-playing game Traveller is in the Hall of Fame in its own name. Did we mention he was a founding member of the legendary Game Designers’ Workshop?
Erik Mona is the publisher and chief creative officer of Paizo Inc., creators of the Pathfinder RPG. He is a past editor-in-chief of Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron magazines, and co-launched the Living Greyhawk and Pathfinder Society organized play campaigns. He also writes comics, including the recent Pathfinder Worldscape for Dynamite. Mona has won more than a dozen major game industry awards and his writing has been published by Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Green Ronin Publishing, and The MIT Press. He lives in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.
Carol Monahan is Vice-President and Co-Owner of Cheapass Games, LLC, publisher of "Kill Doctor Lucky" and "Tak: A Beautiful Game", among many other titles. She got her start in the game industry as Director of Sales of Wizards of the Coast from 1993-1997, followed by work on logistics and information systems projects there until she "retired" in 2000. During that time, her husband James Ernest founded and ran Cheapass Games. After a break to start a family, and stints in other fields, Carol helped James relaunch Cheapass Games in 2012, with a Kickstarter to bring back one of Cheapass' best-selling titles, "Unexploded Cow". Cheapass Games have run nine successful campaigns to date, and Carol has also provided consulting to other small businesses on crowdfunding campaigns.
John attended his first Gen Con in 1986, as a newly published author in Dragon Magazine #186 (April) and then Dungeon #1 (which debuted at that convention). After working as a freelance writer and editor for TSR (Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, Sons of Azca, Complete Thief's Handbook), and on the staff of Lion Rampant (original publisher of Ars Magica), he founded Atlas Games (publisher of Once Upon A Time, Lunch Money, Gloom, Feng Shui, Unknown Armies, etc.) in 1990 and remains its President today. Last year John was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Origins Awards.
With the release of Twilight Imperium in 1997, Christian T. Petersen introduced the world to Fantasy Flight Games, now a market-leading hobby games publisher in Roseville, Minnesota. Under Christian's leadership, FFG has forged a global legacy with hundreds of titles that highlight innovative gameplay, memorable and narrative gaming experiences, and beautiful components. Since having joined the Asmodee family in 2015, Christian continues this drive to release exceptional products as the CEO of Asmodee North America, an organization that encompasses FFG, Z-Man Games, Days of Wonder, Catan Studio, Plaid Hat Games, and others.
Jon Peterson researches the history of wargames and roleplaying games, and is the author of Playing at the World.
Stefan Pokorny is a fine artist and former art teacher who founded Dwarven Forge, a Miniatures Terrain company, in 1996. He has run his “Theatrical” D&D games at various conventions, including GaryCon, GameHole Con, KublaCon, and others. He has been featured in several documentaries: The Dungeons and Dragons Experience by Jesse Spiro and Enter the Dungeon by Richard DiNardo. In 2016 he was the subject of Josh Bishop’s Documentary Film: The Dwarvenaut (now available on Netflix). He is also the original creator of the fantasy world of Mythras and the City of Valoria.
Michael Pondsmith is a roleplaying, board, and video game designer. Best known for his work at R. Talsorian Games, a company he started, he is also credited as author of RPG lines including Mekton (1984), Cyberpunk(1988), and Castle Falkenstein (1994). Mike, as he is known, also contributed to the Forgotten Realms and Oriental Adventures lines of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, worked in various capacities on video games, and authored/co-created several board games. He also worked as an instructor at the DigiPen Institute of Technology. Mike lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest where his hobbies include collecting plastic GI Joe action figures, outdoor activities, reading, and playing around with radio-controlled cars and planes.
Mike started wargaming in 1962. When reading The General magazine, he saw an ad for wargaming with a fellow named Gary Gygax. Mike responded and was soon playing board and miniature wargames with the local crowd. They formed themselves into the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA) and Mike found himself helping set up a wargaming sand table in the basement of Gary Gygax’s house. Meanwhile Mike was developing skirmish rules for WWII and moderns. With Gary’s support and encouragement, and the aid of Leon Tucker, they began developing a set of WWII and modern rules for armored warfare. This work led to the publication of Fast Rules (by Reese and Tucker) and ultimately Tractics (by Reese, Tucker, and Gygax).
The Administrator’s published games include Sqwurm, Top Secret, Nutz & Voltz, Beasties, Caseyopoly, Lutheropoly, Stagecoach King, and Save Your Brain. Accessories include Sprechenhaltestelle, Ace of Clubs, Quagmire, Lathan’s Gold, Ghost of Lion Castle, Midnight on Dagger Alley, The Savage Coast, Top Secret Companion, and Guns, Gadgets, and Getaway Gear. Articles include “The Rasmussen Files,” “Doctor Yes,” “Mad Merc,” “Whiteout,” “Tortles of the Purple Sage,” “Rendezvous Oasis,” “Profession Paths,” and “LEGO Building Toy Maps.” Next RPG from TSR is Top Secret: New World Order.
Mark Rein-Hagen is a somewhat bright but overly creative man who hates writing about himself. He did a bunch of stuff over the years including an international awa... wait, but its the games you're interested in, isn't it? Well in that case we should mention Vampire: The Masquerade and the whole World of Darkness line, everyone seems to love that bit. Also Ars Magica and Democracy and a Star Wars Book called Tramp Freighters, as well as the brand new VAMPIRE: The Masquerade 5th edition, and a Vampire board game called CONCLAVE.
Matt Shoemaker has worked to build the digital scholarship program at Temple University since 2013. He has created workshops in several areas of digital scholarship including making technologies (3D printing, 3D scanning, physical computing, photogrammetry), basics of GIS for digital scholarship, creating digital exhibitions, textual analysis, data cleanup, project design, games for education and as historical models and other DS areas. Shoemaker holds an MA in history, and an MLIS with a concentration in archives. He is currently assisting with a project at the Philadelphia Museum of Art focused on digital uses for their Marcel Duchamp collections as well as co-producing a documentary on the history of Dungeons and Dragons.
David Simkins is an assistant professor of game design and development at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His research and development work focuses on role play, analog and digital, and tends to reside within the intersections of role play, learning, and ethics. Some of his projects involve making role playing games for learning. In others, he creates role playing games with challenging ethical themes.
Jared A. Sorensen is the creator of several RPGs and strange games, including InSpectres, Lacuna Part I and Action Castle. He lives in New York City with 8.5 million other people. Find him online at www.memento-mori.com.
Bill Speer founded the International Federation of Wargaming where he still enjoys wargaming. A prodigious speaker, Bill also serves as a presenter for American Cruise Lines.
Greg Stafford is an American game designer, publisher, and author. He is the founder of Chaosium, Inc. and Issaries Inc., and the discoverer of Glorantha, authoring the two volume monumental Guide to Glorantha during his 42-year career. His favorite creation is the award winning roleplaying game King Arthur Pendragon and its acclaimed supplement The Great Pendragon Campaign. Other notable works include RuneQuest, Prince Valiant, Ghost Busters, HeroQuest, the computer game, King of Dragon Pass, and innumerable acclaimed supplements including Thieves’ World and Cults of Prax. He has contributed to numerous anthologies. He currently lives with his wife Suzanne in Arcata, California; among the redwoods, between the mountains and the ocean.
Lisa’s career started with White Wolf, where she had credits for the Ars Magica and Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying games. In 1991, she started Wizards of the Coast, working on Magic: The Gathering, Greyhawk, the RPGA, 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and other properties. In 2002, she formed Paizo and as the CEO, she published Dragon and Dungeon magazines. In August of 2007, Paizo launched the Pathfinder brand, which has become one of the hottest in the adventure gaming industry with the launch of the Pathfinder RPG in 2009. Lisa has won numerous Origins Awards and Ennies. She became the fourth woman selected into the GAMA Hall of Fame in 2013.
Paul's company, The Collector's Trove (www.thecollectorstrove.com), is the world's most successful RPG auction house. He has featured collections of RPG industry legends, including Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson! From these relationships, he learned the little-known history of TSR, D&D, and the RPG industry. Owing to this unmatched perspective, he has been interviewed and featured as an expert game-historian. Paul was on the design team for the 2005 Golden ENnie-winning, Dungeon magazine, Greyhawk map. More recently he designed the El Raja Key Archive for TLB Games (www.TLBgames.com), a treatise on the RPG-artifacts of Rob Kuntz, a founding D&D player and designer.
In 1986, Rich became the Art Director of White Wolf Magazine, responsible for the visuals that are such an integral part of the White Wolf books. Years later, oversight of the writing and game design was added when he became WW's Creative Director and helped evolve White Wolf into the digital age of publishing. In 2012, Rich founded Onyx Path Publishing to bring Onyx Path's worlds (its licensed WW games as well as Onyx Path's own) into this new era. Along the way, he created just about every symbol, alphabet, or written icon in WW's settings and did some drawrings for WW and Magic: the Gathering (and other games), too.
Jonathan Tweet has been bringing new ideas to roleplaying games since 1987, and he is in the Origins Gaming Hall of Fame. He authored or co-authored the RPGs Ars Magica (1987), Over the Edge (1992), Talislanta 3rd Ed (1992) Everway (1995), D&D 3rd Ed (2000), and 13th Age (2013). His work inspired many of today’s indie RPG designers, and he values roleplaying games because they inspire players to create rather than simply consume. His children’s book, Grandmother Fish, is the first picture book to teach evolution to preschoolers. He’s active on Twitter and G+.
Barbara VanTilburg is the driving force behind OffWorld Designs, Gen Con's official merchandise partner for the last seven years. Along with her husband Ray VanTilburg, the OffWorld Designs founder, they have designed and produced t-shirts since the days of TSR, as far back as 1989, with shirts for Gen Con ’90 -’93, Living City, Dragon and Dungeon Magazines and more. Barb and Ray successfully lead a dedicated team at OffWorld Designs who print, embroider and market their line of apparel and souvenirs at 50+ shows annually.
James Wallis has changed the games industry twice. In 1995 his company Hogshead Publishing proved a European RPG producer could compete on equal terms with the Americans; and in 1998 he started the indie story-game revolution by accident, with a 24-page game called The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. This year he has three new RPGs: the third edition of Baron Munchausen, now 144 pages; the all-new reboot of Paranoia; and an odyssey through a nightmarish casino city, Alas Vegas. He set up the Diana Jones Award, runs the games consultancy Spaaace in London, and writes for Tabletop Gaming magazine.
Weis helped create and co-authored with Tracy Hickman the best-selling series, Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends. She is the author/co-author of many other best-selling series, including the Deathgate novels. Weis lives in Wisconsin with four dogs, Dixie, Tika, Joey, and Clancy. Weis and her dogs enjoy competing in flyball tournaments with their team, the Barkbarians. Weis attended her first Gen Con in 1984. This will be her thirty-third Gen Con.
Jordan Weisman has been a leading designer, world-builder, storyteller, and innovator across many mediums over his career. He has created some of the game industries largest franchises including BattleTech / MechWarrior, Shadowrun, Crimson Skies. Jordan has invented several gaming genres including Virtual Reality entertainment centers (Virtual World Centers), Alternate Reality Games (The Beast, I Love Bees, etc), Collectible Miniature Games (Mage Knight and HeroClix), and Transmedia storytelling including the NYT’s bestselling Cathy’s Book novel trilogy. His company Harebrained Schemes has produced the recent Shadowrun Returns PC game series and is currently developing a BATTLETECH turn-based tactical PC game.
In May 1977 he began working for TSR, Inc. at their Lake Geneva headquarters as the company's 13th employee. He was soon moved upstairs to the company's art department, where he worked on the original Monster Manual, including the creature called the beholder. After TSR, more games followed, including Kings & Things (with Rob Kuntz), the SimCity card game, and Iron Dragon. More recent efforts include a reprint of Snits from Steve Jackson Games, and Planet Busters by Troll Lord Games. Since leaving TSR Wham has designed many more games, including collaborating with James M. Ward on the board game Dragon Lairds, published in April 2008.
Skip Williams is an American game designer and author best known for his work on the D&D 3rd Edition game and for his many activities in support of gaming fans, including stints with the RPGA Network (where he co-edited the award-winning POLYHEDRON Newszine), and his work with DRAGON Magazine (where he served as contributing editor and author of the long-running Sage Advice column). Skip served as director of the Gen Con Game Fair during the formative years of 1980-1983, and is currently associated with the Gary Con game convention, which runs every march in Skip’s hometown of Lake Geneva, WI.
Steve Winter has earned his living in the tabletop RPG industry since 1981, when he got his start at TSR. Whether as editor, designer, developer, or creative director, he's placed his stamp on hundreds of D&D products and other games, from early classics such as Dwellers of the Forbidden City and The Lost City, through Oriental Adventures, Spelljammer, Star Frontiers, and Marvel Super Heroes, to recent bestsellers Murder in Baldur's Gate, Tyranny of Dragons, and Tome of Beasts. Steve lives in Seattle, where he also plays wargames, tinkers on old cars, and occasionally strums a guitar.
Michael Witwer is author of Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons (Bloomsbury 2015). He holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago and has a diverse professional background that has ranged from his current position as Marketing and Proposal Director of a national healthcare services firm, to significant work in the geek and gaming markets. Through his work as an author, Michael has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered with Ari Shapiro and spoken at Google as part of its Google Talks series. He lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and three children.
John is the CEO of AEG. His credits as a publisher since 1993 include: Shadis magazine, Knights of the Dinner Table, Legend of the Five Rings, Warlord, Thunderstone, Love Letter, Smash-Up, Mystic Vale and many other fan favorite games. He loves games but his favorite part about making them is the people he gets to work and play with. He credits a majority of his success to having a wife who understands that gaming means travel, and to the team he works with at AEG. He is most proud of his staff and AEG alumni who now make their living in the gaming industry or real world.
Lou Zocchi was one of the first editors for Avalon Hill's magazine, The General, and a regular contributor during its first 11 years of publication. As a board wargame designer, his credits include Luftwaffe, The Battle of Britain, Alien Space, and Flying Tigers, as well as the 3-, 5-, 14-, 24-, and 100-sided die. Zocchi designed and published a set of miniatures rules called the Star Fleet Battle Manual (1977). Zocchi and his company GameScience published a number of games over the years, but are best known for making dice, and inventing the Zocchihedron (100-sided) die. In 1987, Zocchi was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming's Hall of Fame.