Founded in 1968 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin by Gary Gygax (Co-Creator of Dungeons & Dragons), Gen Con is the longest-running and best-attended convention for tabletop gaming in North America. In 2017, we celebrated our 50th convention! For five decades, we've been gathering people around tables to play games.
One of the questions we get asked the most is: What does "Gen Con'"stand for? Gen Con started as a small gathering of war game enthusiasts. The name is a shortened version of the original name “Lake Geneva Wargaming Convention.”
If you'd like to read more about our history, check out 40 Years of Gen Con by Robin D. Laws. You can also find a summary of our history on Wikipedia.
Our mission is to create the world's greatest place for tabletop gaming. We believe that tabletop gaming is important, as it brings people together in an increasingly divided society.
The Heart of Gaming
Gen Con is the leading destination of tabletop gaming enthusiasts worldwide. In 2018, attendees visited Gen Con from more than 60 countries, every state in the US, and almost every province in Canada!Our roots grew from historical war gaming popular in the 1960s, but over time Gen Con expanded to support all categories of hobby games and family entertainment. Chief games categories include traditional and collectible card games, board games, roleplaying games, live action roleplaying games, miniature war games, computer and electronic games, and more! Gen Con does not promote gambling, although popular casino games such as poker are supported by friendly, no-stakes play. We also host a wide variety of gaming-related entertainment and activities such as costume contests, awards ceremonies, escape rooms, simulated weapon training, dance lessons, games and collectibles auctions, celebrity appearances and autographs, film festivals, painting and crafting workshops, charity events, and much, much more. The show is offered in an “all ages” format; and with so many individual events, the show caters to youth as well as those young at heart.
Inside the Exhibit Hall, game manufacturers and publishers sell and market games directly to consumers. In 2018, we had more than 500 exhibiting companies! Exhibitors' offerings range from premiering new games and selling support products to running product demonstrations and organizing amateur and professional tournaments. Many exhibitors also conduct seminars and workshops ranging in topic from games development to competition-level miniatures painting. Gen Con offers endless possibilities for manufacturers and publishers to creatively sell and support their full line of products, as well as marketing new products that are not yet available to consumers. Gen Con is the preeminent consumer marketing event for hobby games in the United States and North America — over 300 games launched at Gen Con last year!
Consumer Trade Show
Gen Con Indianapolis also supports a Trade Day for game manufacturers, publishers, retailers, educators and press to network and interface in a professional setting. The first trade day occurred in 2007. It included several targeted seminar tracks for retailers and educators, including seminars such as “Increase K-12 Student’s Academic & Social Achievement with Board & Card Games,” “Using Role Playing Games in the Classroom,” and "Buyer’s Training Session and Location Negotiations;” and culminated in a joint session addressing the future of gaming that concluded with an open reception for all trade attendees. The past two years, Gen Con's Trade Day badges have sold out with more than 550 educators, librarians, and retailers attending.
Gen Con LLC was founded in May of 2002 by Peter Adkison, founder and former CEO of Wizards of the Coast. After a short hiatus from the gaming industry, Peter purchased the “Gen Con Game Fair” from Wizards of the Coast. The first show under Peter's leadership took place August 2002 in Milwaukee, WI. At the time of its founding, Gen Con LLC acquired the U.S. convention held in Milwaukee, as well as the national brand that had enjoyed licensed shows in the United Kingdom and Barcelona, Spain.
In 2003, Gen Con moved the U.S. event to Indianapolis, Indiana. The relocation met with resounding success. That year the Gen Con brand expanded to include a new, sister-show in Anaheim California. As a result, the midwest show was branded “Gen Con Indy” to capture the geographical distinction from the sister show, dubbed “Gen Con So Cal” in tribute to its birthplace in southern California. After the demise of the Gen Con So Cal show in 2006, the Indianapolis show assumed the name “Gen Con: The Best Four Days of Gaming!”
Whether attendees want to participate in RPGs, board games, card games, cosplay, crafting, brewery tours, laser tag, or one of our 17,000 other events, the purpose of Gen Con is to delight gamers with an experience that rewards their loyalty for choosing Gen Con.