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Gen Con Is Going Ahead

Gen Con -- one of the world's biggest tabletop gaming conventions -- has announced that is will be going ahead this year from September 16th-19th. There will be three ‘formats’ including the live event.


UK Games Expo is still planning on running at the end of July with restricted space and hotel availability (the UK vaccine program is currently predicting that as the goal to get everybody vaccinated).

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 PRESS RELEASE


A Message from Gen Con’s Co-Owner and Chairperson of the Board

Friends, it’s been a long year. I know you’ve been wondering what will happen with Gen Con this year, and I can tell you that we all share that feeling. Today, we’re excited to announce our plan of action.

We are moving Gen Con 2021 to September 16-19, and holding it as a combination of three concurrent events: our in-person convention in Indianapolis with a lower attendance cap, a robust schedule of livestreaming and online gaming through Gen Con Online, and local events at games stores through Pop-Up Gen Con.

This is the plan. Based on guidance from the CDC, recent announcements by the federal government, and the projections of public-health experts, we believe there is significant cause for optimism for a mid-September convention to be held with reduced attendance and some smart modifications. If that changes and the experts tell us we need to shift course, then the plan will change.

We want to give you options so you can choose how to participate in Gen Con this year, be it in Indianapolis, at your Friendly Local Game Store, or at home from your favorite chair. If you have a badge now but don’t feel comfortable attending in person, I totally understand. You can either roll your badge forward to next year with a price-lock guarantee or get a refund in dollars or system credit.

Dates for badge, hotel, and event registration will be announced soon once we can nail down some additional details, so stay tuned to our newsletter and social media accounts to keep up on the latest news.

Those of you who have been with us for many years know that attending Gen Con means witnessing gaming history. When we gather for The Best Four Days in Gaming™, we share in a peak experience that sets the tone for trends in game development and creates a bright light of passion that we carry back to our gaming groups and communities across the U.S. and the world. When we look back, we can see how far we’ve come, and as we look forward, we’re ready for the next adventure.

After the success of Gen Con Online last year, we know that the magic feeling of Gen Con can translate to a virtual format. It’s not a substitute for the in-person experience, but rather an extension of it. Just as many of us have learned how to run our RPG games over video chat or play board games on one of the incredible virtual tabletop platforms that have been developed, we’re learning how to adapt the convention experience to flexible conditions.

Gaming is changing, and so are we. This will be a Gen Con unlike any other, and the way we emerge from this period of tragedy will carry us into a new future for Gen Con and the hobby we share and love.

After so many months of uncertainty, I remain hopeful about the future. I’m excited to get vaccinated, travel to Indianapolis, and stand once more upon the hallowed grounds of the Indiana Convention Center for a celebration of the games and culture that bring us together.

I hope you’ll join me.

- Peter Adkison


Kelsey Danger, Gen Con's community manager says --

"Hey fam,

Thanks for being patient with us (and me!) while we worked through thousands of replies, talked to our partners, and to health officials. Here's what's happening:
We're announcing new dates later in the year -- September 16th to 19th. We still don't have dates for badge reg and hotel reg, but we will soon.

We are moving forward with a multi-format Gen Con this year so you can choose the way for you and your family to safely participate. We will have Gen Con Indy with a reduced attendance cap, we will have Gen Con Online with lots of events for digital play, and we are bringing back Pop-Up Gen Con so you can participate at your local game store too. You can find out full statement, along with a personal message from Peter, attached.

Our new help desk has a lot of answers to questions you might have, so I would check there first: [link]

But I would like to emphasize two points to y'all:

1. There are absolutely chances that things may change depending on the state of health and safety. Planning a convention takes a lot of time, so if there's any chance of us having Gen Con Indy, we have to plan now even if there's a chance that things may change later. Definitely keep checking in to our website to see what the latest is.

2. The reason why we're offering so many formats is we want you to choose your comfort and safety level and still be able to participate. This year -- like last year -- is going to be wild and different, and if I'm being honest, I'm really excited about the ways we are going to be able to connect and play with each other despite all the boundaries we have. Choose the format that's best for you and yours -- no matter what you choose, it'll be a good time.

Finally, please remember: be kind to each other, be empathetic of each other's choices and lives, and take a couple deep breaths. This is going to be an emotional time for a lot of us! I'll be here to answer your questions, your concerns, and your criticisms, but I will not tolerate unkindness and cruelty.

I love y'all, and I am excited to see you soon."
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Many of the contracts conventions have will have force majeure clauses that save them penalties - but they will almost certainly need the appropriate level of government declare a shutdown.

Yes, exactly. If the State says the event cannot happen for reasons outside the con's control, then the convention organization isn't liable for the result.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Actually, current research (9/21) is pointing towards fomites being a fairly ineffective infection vector.

"Fairly ineffective" is a relative term, though. At home, if one person touched a doorknob, the risks are small. In a convention, where hundreds or thousands of people did, the risks rise.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I've bought my tickets for GaryCon, which will be in March '22. I hope it will be better then, and it's a smaller con than GenCon. But my wife and I are likely postponing our wedding reception (again), which was rescheduled for this November. Our state is currently #3 in infections.
Me too. I am hopeful that child vaccinations and boosters will be available by then, and Luke has taken strong efforts to help mitigate the safety. Such as not only masks, but requiring vaccination or negative recent results.
 

MGibster

Legend
That may not have been economically feasible. Once contracts for convention space, concessions, hotels, and so on, are signed, the organization is generally stuck with a big bill, whether the convention happens or not. If they don't have it in-person, they are likely on the hook for some minimum number of hotel rooms, for example, and can pay truly massive penalties if the minimums are not met. For something the size of Gen Con, we are probably talking in the millions of dollars.
I can appreciate the bind they're in. I've planned events on an order of magnitude that were infinitesimal when compared to Gen Con, and even my rinky dink events required me to plan ahead (up to a year) and would have resulted in some financial penalties if I cancelled. But while I can appreciate the bind they're in, I'm not sure if that abrogates their responsibility for hosting such an event in the midst of a pandemic. COVID cases are surging in South Dakota after the Sturgis motorcycle rally which ended in August 2021 (though that's can't be all traced back to the rally), and like many areas of the country, hospitals are overwhelmed and ICU beds are scarce.

I don't know if economic feasibility really lets them off the hook here. Gen-Con attracts an audience from around the United States, and probably a decent number of international travelers, and it just seems like gathering thousands of people into a small space and then sending them all home afterward is a recipe for a super spreader event. Maybe nothing will come of it but I can't help but think of the scene in Aliens where Burke explains that he sent the colonist to the coordinates where Ripley said the derelict craft was:

Burke: Okay, look. What if that ship didn't even exist, huh? Did you ever think about that? I didn't know! So now, if I went in and made a major security issue out of it, everybody steps in. Administration steps in, and there are no exclusive rights for anybody; nobody wins. So I made a decision and it was... wrong. It was a bad call, Ripley. It was a bad call.

Ripley: Bad call? These people are dead, Burke! Don't you have any idea what you have done here?
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't know if economic feasibility really lets them off the hook here.

Well, the counter-argument is, "What hook?" They have to hold the event, and by some contract forms maybe can't even work to dissuade people from coming - they likely have to make a good faith effort, contractually.

But that doesn't mean anyone is forced to come. If you are going to point an ethical finger at the convention organization, you ought to also point that finger at every single person who attends.
 


embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
That may not have been economically feasible. Once contracts for convention space, concessions, hotels, and so on, are signed, the organization is generally stuck with a big bill, whether the convention happens or not. If they don't have it in-person, they are likely on the hook for some minimum number of hotel rooms, for example, and can pay truly massive penalties if the minimums are not met. For something the size of Gen Con, we are probably talking in the millions of dollars.

One of our local sci-fi conventions nearly went bankrupt after cancelling last year.
It becomes a game of chicken as to who's willing to risk the pandemic being held to be a force majeure.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It appears a lot of people are wearing masks, but I have to think the efficiency of masks drops exponentially when you're that close. My understanding is that the whole point of masks is to keep your potentially infected droplets from being too airborne at a distance, but at that close, I don't see how it can be that effective.
The effectiveness of wearing a mask isn't impacted by distance . . . . however, social distancing is another important layer of protection one should add to mask-wearing. And washing your hands frequently. And getting vaccinated.
 

MarkB

Legend
Gaming conventions are practically tailor-made as spreader events - it'd be hard to make them more effective if you did it deliberately.

Beyond the general crowds, the small number of shared eateries and sanitary facilities and the enclosed spaces, you're very specifically taking the attendees, sorting them into small groups to sit around a table together for a couple of hours, probably sharing dice, snacks and writing implements, then breaking up those groups and re-shuffling them into different groups a few times a day.

Anything that's going around is pretty sure to go all the way around by the end of it.
 

Retreater

Legend
Gaming conventions are practically tailor-made as spreader events - it'd be hard to make them more effective if you did it deliberately.

Beyond the general crowds, the small number of shared eateries and sanitary facilities and the enclosed spaces, you're very specifically taking the attendees, sorting them into small groups to sit around a table together for a couple of hours, probably sharing dice, snacks and writing implements, then breaking up those groups and re-shuffling them into different groups a few times a day.

Anything that's going around is pretty sure to go all the way around by the end of it.
Sounds like schools.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
In-person Gen Con 2021 looking like it was a truly bad idea after all...

View attachment 143939

From:
That picture does not look good at all in terms of COVID transmission risk factors. Hundreds of people could get infected from just a few carriers in that sort of environment. 😬
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Gaming conventions are practically tailor-made as spreader events - it'd be hard to make them more effective if you did it deliberately.

Beyond the general crowds, the small number of shared eateries and sanitary facilities and the enclosed spaces, you're very specifically taking the attendees, sorting them into small groups to sit around a table together for a couple of hours, probably sharing dice, snacks and writing implements, then breaking up those groups and re-shuffling them into different groups a few times a day.

Anything that's going around is pretty sure to go all the way around by the end of it.

Excellent point about snacking, and especially the length of time people are in the same area. And don't forget everyone having to raise their voices as ambient noise increases. All the factors that have made Covid transmission so brutal in restaurants, as seen in study after study.

Karaoke booths and spring breakers hanging out in bars might be the worst-case scenario, but the more you think about it, the worse pandemic-era gaming cons sound.
 

MarkB

Legend
Excellent point about snacking, and especially the length of time people are in the same area. And don't forget everyone having to raise their voices as ambient noise increases. All the factors that have made Covid transmission so brutal in restaurants, as seen in study after study.

Karaoke booths and spring breakers hanging out in bars might be the worst-case scenario, but the more you think about it, the worse pandemic-era gaming cons sound.
Yeah, and on the subject of snacking, I've never seen a table of people at a gaming convention get through a whole session without eating some snacks and slurping some soft drinks. So you know those masks aren't going to stay on 100% of the time, even for the ones who are wearing them.
 

MGibster

Legend
Well, the counter-argument is, "What hook?" They have to hold the event, and by some contract forms maybe can't even work to dissuade people from coming - they likely have to make a good faith effort, contractually.
Even before COVID, convention crud was a well known phenomenon. Knowing that germs tend to spread at conventions, Gen-Con should have come up with a plan in 2020 for what they might do if COVID was still a problem in 2021.
But that doesn't mean anyone is forced to come. If you are going to point an ethical finger at the convention organization, you ought to also point that finger at every single person who attends.
That's completely fair. And the truth here is that there is a lot of blame to go around. The ineffective response from the federal and state governments, bad actors spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID, and a significant portion of the population who continue to refuse the vaccine for ridiculous reasons are why we're still in this situation. I'm not going to blame the Gen Con organizers for all of that. But the organizers are still bear some responsibility if Gen Con turns into a super spreader event.
 

Even before COVID, convention crud was a well known phenomenon. Knowing that germs tend to spread at conventions, Gen-Con should have come up with a plan in 2020 for what they might do if COVID was still a problem in 2021.

That's completely fair. And the truth here is that there is a lot of blame to go around. The ineffective response from the federal and state governments, bad actors spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID, and a significant portion of the population who continue to refuse the vaccine for ridiculous reasons are why we're still in this situation. I'm not going to blame the Gen Con organizers for all of that. But the organizers are still bear some responsibility if Gen Con turns into a super spreader event.
Yeah...to be possibly reductive, how many people will die because of gen con 2021?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But the organizers are still bear some responsibility if Gen Con turns into a super spreader event.

Oh, it will be a miracle if it isn't a super-spreader event. I don't know how it could avoid it, statistically speaking.

However, when literally everybody involved is making mistakes, "responsibility" becomes a questionable concept.

And, with transmission rates as they are, it is also questionable whether, even as a super-spreader event, it would actually be more than a statistical blip, overall.
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I don't know what the impact is going to be as a super spreader event. But I'm pretty sure gencon, with a high rate of masks and vaccinated attendees compared to no mask no vaccination Sturgis, it's going to be a LOT less than said motorcycle event. So that's good news at least.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
It would be a good idea if GenCon had put in the 'goody bag' (along with the map, all the ads, a list of food &c) a use-at-home Coronavirus Exposure Kit with instructions "Take this test when you get home. Do what you need to (medicine, doctor, isolate at home, and so on) if you did catch Corona. Kill the germs before they can get to anybody else or you."

There is a few days' lag time between being exposed and when the infection reaches Contagious mode. Take advantage of early detection, and stop the spread at you.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't know what the impact is going to be as a super spreader event. But I'm pretty sure gencon, with a high rate of masks and vaccinated attendees compared to no mask no vaccination Sturgis, it's going to be a LOT less than said motorcycle event.

Gen Con gets something like 60,000 unique attendees.

The Sturgis motorcycle rally pulled something like half a million attendees this year.
 

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