Gen Con N00b lives to tell the tale


Cosplayers and gamers gather like magic at Indianapolis' annual Gen Con on Saturday. Caitlin O'Hara Buy Photos

I watched four stormtroopers in kilts cross Ohio Street.

Steampunk top hats, multi-colored mechanical kitten ears, horns of all shapes and sizes and elfin ears were worn. Even Captain America and Jack Sparrow came out for the occasion.

When I first arrived at last weekend’s annual Geneva Convention in Indianapolis, it was hard to keep up with everything.

I am not a complete n00b to gaming culture. I spent most of my childhood on my pink Nintendo GameBoy Color trying to feed Pikachu enough moonstones to evolve into a Raichu.

But there is so much happening in the gaming world today that I had been blind to. It was like I shot my Portal gun at the Indianapolis Convention Center wall and stepped into a new reality.

Gamers in the Internet age have created communities strong enough to draw tens of thousands together at the annual Gen Con.

And while this community is often dismissed as kids who hoard Magic: The Gathering cards and Dungeons and Dragons minis, we can learn a lot about ourselves and others from discovering new games.

So many people overlook the art and storytelling that goes into creating both tabletop and video games.

I’m grateful I was reminded of the magic of Magic: The Gathering that comes from being sucked into another world for 30 to 70 minutes.

It’s almost impossible not to see something new at Gen Con.

Events range from booths with the world’s tiniest polyhedral die to hentai voiceover competitions that are absolutely not for children. If you don’t know what hentai is, don’t Google it at work.

Demonstrations teach the year’s newest games to eager players. I played the new “Zombies!!! The Card Game” and thoroughly enjoyed not surviving the apocalypse.

Gaming is different from reading or watching film. There is usually a general story line, but the process and the outcome is different with every campaign. The players have temperaments and strategies that can sometimes be more telling than their outward demeanor IRL.

One of the most fun parts of the convention is the cosplay, dressing up and/or acting like a favorite character.

Fans dressed as heroes from longtime video game favorites, such as “Zelda” and “League of Legends.” They dressed to shock, to make people laugh and to generate a feeling of community.

This community extends to all — young and old, first-time gamers and professionals, those dressed in full LARPing gear and those just wearing funny graphic T-shirts. Whether you are an anime fan is irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter if you never played “Sonic The Hedgehog” as a kid. Gen Con has something for everyone who loves trying something new.

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