A History of GenCon
Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.
The Early Days
GenCon was started by a joint group of gamers from
For a few years, the con was held at venues rotating
between Horticultural Hall, the American Legion, and the campus of
In 1976, TSR officially took over as GenCon's host and
principle corporate sponsor. Attendance hit 300. In 1977, the con was held at
the Lake Geneva Playboy Resort. Perverts. Two years later, attendance shot up
to 1,000. In 1978 the venue was moved to the
GenCon moves on Mecca
In 1985, GenCon had grown too big to be hosted on a campus
and it moved to
In 1988, GenCon and the competing Origins convention hosted a joint con. Over 10,000 attendees showed up. Origins previously had been a roving event, moving from host city to host city. The GenCon/Origins marriage did not last long. Origins split off after a few years and returned to its nomadic ways.
In 1992, attendance figures hit 15,000. Kibourn Hall was added to host the ever popular game auction. Vampire: The Masquerade was debuted at GenCon '92. GenCon '93 saw the debut of Wizards of the Coast's (WotC) Magic: The Gathering.
The card game craze touched off by Magic: The Gathering only helped to further pump up GenCon's attendance figures: 20,000 in 1994 and 30,000 in 1996.
GenCon '97 almost didn't happen. TSR tanked and it was
only by the super human efforts of WotC employees (WotC has just purchased
TSR) that the con happened. Flush with cash, WotC kicked off GenCon 1997 with
a free concert by
Right after GenCon '97, the city of
The Big Snit
In 1998, Steve Jackson Games, Palladium (a GenCon attendee since 1982), and RPGnet pulled out of GenCon. The companies cited the high cost of booth rentals. Many companies felt that rental prices were already high. When GenCon '98's raised the rates between 36 and 50% many of the industry's biggest companies had to reexamine the cost/benefits. WotC argued the rates were still fair, if you compared it to other more expensive conventions unrelated to the gaming industry. Okay. WotC further argued any company that did not show up for GenCon might give players the impression the absentee company was on its last legs.
The Big Future
Many were afraid WotC, a Seattle-area company, would move
the con out west. But it promised to keep GenCon in
-- Karl Mamer