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18 Aug 2009

Our largest convention yet: GenCon in Indianapolis

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The Indianapolis tourist board has a hard time of it. Famed for just three things - corn fields, a car race and a rather geek-niche game convention - it's no surprise to learn that, when extolling the city's virtues, people often shorten this already anaemic list to just "corn and cars".

GenCon attracts around 30,000 visitors a year and really should get more respect. It's quite an amazing spectacle, even if you've never played a game in your life, and the enthusiasm and passion for the subject is quite contagious.

TerrorBull Games is still the 'special' runt of the litter though. For a dyed-in-the-wool gamer, our games are almost as foreign as their own practices are to 'normal folk'. This is something that only really hit home during the convention, but since War on Terror and Crunch take their influences more from the real world than other games, they end up being relatively hard to categorise in a hobby that is quite rigidly defined in numerous categories and subcategories of games.

The upshot is that a game like War on Terror is quite a hard sell to a proper gamer. Is it a war game, or a strategy game, or a party game, or a light-hearted game, or a deep, cerebral game, or a 'Euro-style' game or an 'American-style' game? We certainly developed some sympathy for the Indianapolis tourist board over the course of the weekend.

War on Terror is like a dowsing rod for lovely weirdos It was this demanding audience however that made the eventual successes all the more rewarding. Those that were happy enough to throw caution to the wind and buy a copy ended up having a great time that evening with their fellow gaming friends. They learnt that a game with non-fantasy graphics, a spinner, dice, money and a balaclava can still be rewarding 3 hours later. At the same time, we learnt a little more about the existing games market and that a certain amount of (re)education is needed on our behalf to persuade the really hardcore gamers to try something new.

In short, it was a tiring, but hugely entertaining convention, made all the more enjoyable by the addition of meeting friends, both new and old. In fact, it never ceases to amaze us how this game (it's mainly War on Terror that's responsible) keeps introducing us to kind, funny and unique people all over the world. It's like a dowsing rod for lovely weirdos.

Highlights of the con included taking the bus out to the suburbs to an Army surplus store to buy extra camo netting (a very "real" excursion, as Tom rightly identified). There was also a particularly evil moment when a banker came up to our booth to learn about Crunch. After we explained the market-driven price system we had going, he asked if he paid more than the asking price, whether this would push the price up for everyone else. We said it would, so he did - and walked away chuckling to himself.

Of course, we couldn't forget to include the night of the masquerade ball and the vampire party (see the gallery for photos), which rates among as surreal and surprising an evening as we ever experienced in Vegas/ LA. Indianapolis isn't so bad really.

So another piece of the puzzle is laid. America is succumbing, city by city ...

Posted by TerrorBull Games on 18 August 2009 - 1 comment

Comments so far:

  1. Congrats on making it into GenCon! Wish I had the money to have gone this year.Drew from Chicago - 21 August 2009

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