Operation GenCon 2014 – Column #1: The Past

By Magno
How Infinity is arranged at GenCon; the past
For the past few years I have been managing the organization of Infinity gaming at GenCon. And every year, once event registration opens in mid-May I can count on a hell storm of messages, complaints, grievances and yes, even threats because a player wasn’t able to register for an event on time.

GenCon proclaims itself to be the “Best four days in Gaming”, but it’s certainly not the easiest or organizer friendly. What GenCon offers is an opportunity to play or do just about anything your nerd heart could desire. So when you prepare for GenCon there are thousands,….let that soak in for a minute, ….thousands ….. of gaming activities vying for your attention. Those thousands of activities require space and space within the Indianapolis Convention Center is at a premium. A market based premium.

Like many other large gaming conventions, an organizer typically submits to the convention manager their event plans. How many events, the size, duration and how many players. The convention manager takes this info, plugs it into a registration system and secures the space and times for you. A little back and forth to square away the details, but typically a final confirmation, “Here are your tables for the weekend. Enjoy”

Unlike other conventions, GenCon isn’t this simple. You submit your event plans and GC tells you what space, duration and times you can run your events. About the only influence a fan based event organizer has at GenCon is past performance of these events.

If the event sells-out one year, GC will grant a little more space, a little more time and maybe a better time slot.

If the event doesn’t sell out, then GC essentially penalizes your event requests. So Infinity at GenCon isn’t dependent on how hot Infinity is at the moment or how ambitious an event team is, Infinity gaming at GenCon is a slow, grinding, build up of momentum over the course of years.

Despite that the fact that the number of event submissions grows every year, the options and negotiation for events intensifies, Infinity has slowly grown at GenCon.

The unfortunate set back a game like Infinity can suffer in the face of all the gaming candy at GenCon and the whimsical nature of a gamers mood, is that a player can just decide at the last moment he no longer wants to play in the event and do something else.
Which means you don’t collect that registered ticket and your plans to grow Infinity for the next year just got torpedoed.

Sure you can accept generic tickets from walk-ups, but in the eyes of GenCon, a generic ticket isn’t as powerful as a registered ticket. And walk-ups don’t hang around all morning hoping for someone to not show. They’ll quickly find something else to do.

So in the past few years we have agonizingly turned away dozens of players for no better reason than GenCon general tabletop gaming is a plug and jug event management.

The past few years our event requests have been throttled by ~20-35% of capacity and time. Which means, you have maybe 6-7 hours to set-up, play, and take down 6-10 tables of terrain. No, there is no leaving the terrain out over night, those tables typically have an event just before and just after your event. There is no, “Ok folks, go ahead and take a little extra time to finish this round.”
It’s run and gun, pack that gear up and get out of the way.

There is a little bit of charm in this blitz style tournament, but it is no walk in the park and you have got keep those events on time, on schedule and moving. Oh, and you have got to ensure that you get that event filled or be prepared for even larger complaints from the player base the next year because they couldn’t get into the event.

But this is the now the past. These problems are for others to worry about. Corvus Belli has stepped up to the plate and exercising an option not hitherto afforded to a handful of committed Infinity gamers.

Next: How Infinity is arranged at GenCon: the present

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3 Responses

  1. Melvin McSnatch says:

    Nice article. Hope to see more in this format.

  2. Nestor says:

    Looking forward to this, keep them coming.

  3. Lampyridae says:

    Very interesting, Magno. I’ve run a tournament at our local computer gaming expo which is barely a fraction the size of GenCon and I can imagine the chaos. Thumbs up for your hard work for the Infinity community!

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