GenCon as Sundance

This is a fragmentary thought that I had today when watching an interview with Chris Nolan on the Mememto DVD. (Great movie, by the way.)

The interviewer asked Nolan about taking his films to film festivals. And, as I listened to his response, I thought about going to GenCon.

See, I’ve been struggling to figure out where exactly Dark Omen Games fits into my life. Right now, it doesn’t feel like it should be jettisoned. At the same time, it’s not exactly a full-time business, either. I do think that I’ve come up with an answer, which is that Dark Omen Games is an avenue to produce my art, but I’m still wrestling through various details.

One of these details is GenCon. At some point in February, I’ll have to make a final decision about going or not. How should I make that decision? On a purely economic basis, GenCon hasn’t been worthwhile. The raw income vs. expense simply doesn’t work. The after-hours gaming isn’t worth it by itself. Honestly, I could get the same experience for a longer amount of time for less money by going to Forge Midwest. So, should I go?

But maybe GenCon isn’t just about getting a good economic launch. Maybe it isn’t about the after-hours gaming. Maybe it is about that initial exposure, presenting your games to the diehard gamers out there who are looking for the latest and the greatest. Maybe it’s about establishing a presence in the mindspace of both gamers and designers. Maybe these things are a sufficient reason to head out to GenCon.

Or maybe not. I have fellow gamers and designers out there that read this blog. I’ve actually had portions of this conversation with you. What do you think? Is GenCon worth it or not?


4 responses to “GenCon as Sundance

  • Daniel M. Perez

    To me, it is. Going to Gen Con has also to do with being a part of the greater community, of being there at that point in time and space where the largest number of our kind gather. It’s also about, as you mention, establishing/continuing your presence in the mindspace of the industry at all levels. And of course, about the face-to-face time you spend with a lot of people who you only get to see there and whom you always wish you could spend more.

    A regular attendee can get away with not going for years. A designer/publisher can only get away with not going for a couple of years max before they lose touch with that greater entity and drop of the collective consciousness.

  • Carl Klutzke

    My sales of StoryCards covered my Forge buy-in this year. They did not also cover their own production costs (about $7.40 each, IIRC). That same number of sales would not cover my buy-in for 2009. But GenCon is a no-brainer for me: it’s my hometown con, and I’d be going anyway.

    That having been said, I should probably attend Forge Midwest too. 🙂

  • Seth Ben-Ezra

    >But GenCon is a no-brainer for me: it’s my hometown con, and I’d be going anyway.

    Go ahead and rub it in. 🙂

    Actually, given that GenCon is only three hours away, it’s essentially a regional con for me. So, I guess I can’t really complain.

    Actually, I should clarify something. I’m not really even talking about having a booth at GenCon. So, perhaps here are my questions:

    1) Is it worth being at GenCon as a designer?

    2) Is it worth having a booth at GenCon as a designer?

  • Mark Jackson

    Good post… I’ve seen a least a couple of game companies whose primary reason for existence was to write off the convention love of their owners.

    But that’s not what you’re talking about – the key Q seems to be “Am I buying enough buzz/market presence through GenCon to warrant the financial hit I take?”

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