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Gen Con and Origins

by Marinda Darnell

Every year thousands of gamers flock to a Mecca. For some, the question of what they call Mecca is obvious. Others may have to choose between a couple of different choices. Yet still more people decide not to make that choice and choose more then one. What are these choices I am talking about? Gen Con and Origins of course!

Origins International Games Expo is the second largest adventure gaming convention in the United States, second only behind Gen Con Indy. With attendance numbering in the thousands, it is a very hefty show to put on. Every year in late June, early July, Origins invades Columbus, Ohio with approximately 12,000 gamers. With a very large dealer hall normally featuring all of the major game companies, and many small companies, a gamer can find just about any product they are looking for. More then 200 retailers were present at Origins in 2006. Origins is organized by the Game Manufactures Association (GAMA). GAMA is a not for profit organization, and has been since 1982. Since GAMA is NFP, there seems to be less pressure at Origins to squeeze every penny from the attendee. Origins exists for the love of gaming and to provide a relaxed atmosphere where all different games can be found and enjoyed by all people. There are different programming tracks for younger children, spouses, teachers, and the list is endless. Origins also has reduced admission prices for active duty military, and specials for bringing a friend who has never been to Origins before. With other benefits, this makes Origins one of the most fan friendly conventions of this scale. The general attitude and atmosphere of Origins is one of general good will, excitement, and also fellowship. While there are large prizes to be claimed, and lots of shopping, the focus is more on the players, not the bottom line. The City of Columbus is a nice, polite city, with good hotel spaces, and excellent restaurants. With the North Market a block away, and an entertainment district 3 blocks away, there is plenty for everyone.

Gen Con takes over Indianapolis, Indiana mid August every year. With attendance numbers of more than 25,000, Gen Con is the largest game convention in North America. The dealers hall is larger than Originsí, but not by much. Here in Indianapolis you see more eye candy in booth displays and advertisements. Gen Con is a for profit convention, as such more energy is placed into looks and also the placement of advertisement. The events for Gen Con have sprawled into the connecting hotels, and many large social events occur on the Wednesday Eve of the convention. The general feel of the convention is one of excitement, but also more commercial. As with Origins, just about any game you want to find to purchase or play, it can be found here. There are a few events that Origins does not have, but Gen Con lovingly nurtures. Those events have a quickly growing fan base which spurs the demand for even more creative events. Two of these events, which can not be found at Origins, are True Dungeon and Nascrag. Both very unique to Gen Con, both very highly sought after by players. They provide a unique experience that is just part of the draw for Gen Con. The Indianapolis area has numerous hotels in different price ranges, as well as many restaurants. Media guests are also in attendance more at Gen Con then any other gaming convention.

So which Mecca will you choose? The more fan friendly Origins, or the bigger, more commercial Gen Con? Both have their positives and their negatives. Personally, I will keep attending both in the near future when I can. Each convention is unique and has itís own following.

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