From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A gaming convention is typically a two- or three-day event at which people play role-playing games, collectible card games, miniatures wargames, board games and many other types of games. Many also have rooms of networked computers to play video games.
The largest gaming convention is probably Spiel in Essen, Germany. In 2004 this convention, which focuses on board games, had 150,000 visitors and 690 exhibitors from 24 nations. The FLIP (Festival Ludique International de Parthenay - link to French Wikipedia) is probably the second largest gaming convention with 140,000 visitors during twelve days in 2005. Another large gaming convention in Europe is Spellenspektakel in Eindhoven, Netherlands. This largely commercial convention had 12,000 visitors in 2004.
Gen Con is probably the largest gaming con in the US for RPGs ("Gen Con Indy," which is the convention most gamers refer to when they refer to "Gen Con," had 21,700 attendees over four days in 2005); Origins is probably the largest for miniatures wargames. Exact numbers, however, are debatable. DragonCon, for example, is a large convention also aimed at gaming, and has huge numbers of attendees (however not all of them are there to play games; it might be one of the largest conventions where people can game but gaming is only a small part of the convention (and there are few (non-RPG) retailers). A smaller genre of gaming conventions are those devoted to the hobby of historical miniature wargaming, many of which are sponsored by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society.
What goes on at a gaming convention
Gaming conventions typically have games scheduled for various time slots. Most gaming cons use some system of pre-registration to ensure that games are neither over-full nor under-full. This tends to be a problem, though, and it seems that no con has yet found a fool-proof way of making sure that all players and GMs have access to the game sessions that they want.
Competitive games, such as Magic: The Gathering, typically have tournaments set out where players meet in matches. Prizes can be quite large for the winners. There are also competitive role-playing games, where the best roleplayers, most successful parties, etc. get rewarded. The RPGA runs competitive D&D and other RPGs at many conventions. Most scheduled RPGs, however, are not competitive.
Open gaming goes on throughout any such convention, and it is common that all seating in common areas will be taken by people playing pick-up games. Pick-up gaming is not discouraged by the convention management; in fact, pick-up games are a large part of the appeal of gaming conventions.
There is almost always a dealers' room where various game manufacturers and related companies sell their products. Many game companies choose game cons to reveal new products. Creating consumer excitement is greatly facilitated at gaming cons, but word can spread fast, and games may equally well become instant failures at conventions.
Often there are other activities at a gaming convention as well. Costume balls, art auctions, and screenings of movies may all take place. Lectures, workshops, or panel discussions on gaming might be part of the programming, or for some cons, even the focus.
Overall, gaming conventions offer a chance to meet people outside one's usual gaming circle, and a chance to play and buy games that one usually would not get to.
List of gaming conventions by location
- Gen Con - various locations in the US and Europe
- Knutepunkt - Scandinavian conference on role playing theory
- oni-l-con - The Internet's First Fully Online Gaming/Anime Convention
Australian Capital Territory
- CanCon - Canberra, in January
- Phenomenon - Canberra, in June
New South Wales
- Necronomicon - Sydney, at Easter (March/April)
- MacquarieCon - Sydney, in December. One of the oldest in Australia, having been run since 1980.
- Sydcon - Sydney, in October
- The BIG Weekend - Brisbane, in May
- VorpalCon - Adelaide, in September
- Arcanacon - Melbourne, in January
- Conquest - Melbourne, at Easter (March/April)
- Dwarfcon - Noble Park North, in June/July
- FauxCon - regional Victoria, in April
- Friends for Dinner - Melbourne, in October
- Retrocon - Melbourne, in June
- Unicon - Melbourne, in September
- GenghisCon - Perth, in September
- KeyCon  - Annual gaming convention held in Winnipeg
- Prairie Con - Annual gaming convention held in Brandon
- EximCon Toronto, in June 
- Great Canadian Baycon 2006 - Hamilton, in May
- Ropecon - Espoo, in August
- FIJ (Festival International des Jeux) - Cannes, in February
- FLIP (Festival Ludique international de Parthenay) - Parthenay, in July
- Games Convention - Leipzig, in August
- Internationale Spieltage - Essen, Germany, in October
- Nuremberg International Toy Fair - Nuremburg, in February
- GaelCon - Dublin, Ireland, in late October (usually at Clontarf Castle)
- Ubercon - In Cork, Ireland
- Warpcon - At University College Cork in late January
- Lucca Comics and Games - Lucca, in November
- Spellenspektakel - Eindhoven, Netherlands
- GothCon - Gothenburg, Sweden
- Excaliber_(gaming convention) - Cornwall, England in April
- Q-Con - Northern Ireland in June
- Gen Con UK - The University of Reading, England in August-September
- XCaliber 2 - Cornwall, England in October
- ConGames - Arizona
- Blizzcon - Anaheim, California, in October
- ConQuest SF - San Francisco, CA in September
- ConQuest SAC - Sacramento, CA in April
- DunDraCon - San Ramon, California, in February
- Gamex - Los Angeles, California, in May
- Gateway_(gaming convention) - Los Angeles, California, in September
- KublaCon - San Francisco, California, in May
- Orccon - Los Angeles, California, in February
- PolyCon - San Luis Obispo, California, in June
- GenghisCon - Denver, Colorado, in February
- DragonCon - Atlanta, Georgia, in August
- Momocon - Atlanta, Georgia, in March, free admission
- Chi-Tag - Chicago, Illinois, in November
- WOLFCON - Gaming Convention in Chicago, held on Thanksgiving Weekend (Friday & Saturday) 
- Gamicon - Eastern Iowa in February
- MAGE Con Fall - Sioux City in September
- MAGE Con Spring - Sioux City in April
- PortCon Maine - Maine
- EuroQuest - Timonium, focus on Eurogames
- D-Day Timonium, tournament for boardgame Breakout Normandy
- Enlightenment - Timonium, tournament for boardgame Age of Renaissance
- Winter Activation Meeting (WAM) - Tournaments for card-driven wargames 
- Vericon - Cambridge, in late January or early February
- Marmalade Dog - Kalamazoo, Michigan, in March
- UCon - Ann Arbor, Michigan, in November
- Con of the North - Twin Cities, Minnesota, in February (around President's Day Weekend)
- Minnesota Gamers Convention - St. Paul, in November 
- DEXCON New Brunswick, NJ 
- PrinceCon In Princeton. One of the oldest in the United States, approaching its 32nd year.
- Bashcon - Toledo, in February
- Capcon - Columbus, typically in May. 
- Origins - Columbus, in late June or early July
- Game Storm - Portland, Oregon, in March
- AmberCon NorthWest - Portland, Oregon, in November
- Cold Wars - Lancaster County, in March
- Diplocon - Lancaster County, in November
- Fall In! - Adams County, in November
- Historicon - Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in July
- World Boardgaming Championships - in Lancaster, PA in August
- TempleCon - Providence, in February
- Waterloo - Tournament in Greenville, SC for boardgame Napoleonic Wars
- LibertyCon - in July
- MidSouthCon - Memphis, TN
- Quakecon - Dallas, Texas, in August
- Carnage Con - Fairlee, in November 
- Lore Con - South Burlington, in April 
- PrezCon - Charlottesville, in August 
- ConQuest NW - Seattle, WA, in February
- Dragonflight - Seattle, Washington, in August
- Penny Arcade Expo - Bellevue, Washington, in August
- Winter Fantasy - In February. This event is mostly for the RPGA, but includes many events for DDM
- Fire and Ice - Sheboygan, in February 
- Rising Phoenix Con - Milwaukee, in May 
- Boardgame Players Association Sponsors of the annual World Boardgaming Championships.
- consupport A service conventions can use to list events, manage payments, etc. and the conventions that use it.
- Convention Listings by Jenga A comprehensive list of gaming and other conventions.
- GameConventions.net Another comprehensive list of gaming conventions.
- HMGS East Has lists of associated conventions that feature historical miniature wargaming.