AUGUST 15, 2017

Gen Con Golden Years

50 years ago, a group of 20 friends met in a basement—Gary Gygax’s basement to be specific, you may have heard of him—to play some historical wargames. We now call this gathering Gen Con, and it is the largest gaming convention, with guests numbering more than 61,000 and representing more than 64 countries. 

The event is sold out this year, and below are some fun events you might want to put on your “must do” list to celebrate the golden anniversary in style:

Keeping with the gold theme, Sun King’s Official Beer of Gen Con 50 is a Belgian golden ale called Dragon’s Delight. Available all over town later in the week, the brew makes its debut at 5 pm at the tapping party Wednesday on Georgia Street with music from indie/punk/R&B artist Celeste Martin. Following in the evening, ramble on over to the free show (also on Georgia Street) from Lez Zeppelin, the all-girl Zep tribute band from New York. Rock and roll, baby. 

Start your con with the beer, of course, but then head to Union Station for The Stink. It’s a great place to meet up with new friends and old, grab some swag, and get the party rolling.

It’s more music you want? Alt rock legends They Might Be Giants are entertaining us Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with an exclusive-for-Gen-Con show!

Last year, the con expanded to Lucas Oil Stadium (LOS), but this year will see much more of the Colts’ home being utilized. Don’t miss the Gen Con museum of tabletop gaming on the 50-yard line. Among the 300 items on display are a first draft of D&D rules (with handwritten edits from that guy I mentioned earlier, Gygax, and Dave Arneson), the “power nine” Magic cards, and a draft of a Wizards of the Coast release (The Primal Order). LOS is also the new home for the games library and pick-up play area. There’s plenty of room on the field for everyone!

In another celebration of the history of Gen Con, there will be retrospective panels featuring legends of the gaming industry. Hear from those who attended that first con, learn about the origins of Magic: The Gathering, and get the back story on how Gen Con runs. 

Want to be the first to test a new game or expansion to a favorite? I did this last year for Cards Against Humanity—highly recommend! Get a ticket to one of the First Exposure: Playtest events to meet the game designers and help them perfect their product.

Pokemon GO players can mix it up Friday night on Georgia Street at the Lure Party. Bring your auxiliary chargers so you can keep playing all night. Gotta catch 'em all, you know.

Costumes are always a highlight, whether you’re a dedicated cosplayer spending a year to get all the details down, or an avid fan and photo taker. The annual contest is Saturday at 4 pm in the 500 Ballroom. Catch the parade through the halls at 3 pm to see all the hard work come to life.

Dance Through the Ages is the theme of Saturday night’s dance party in Union Station’s Grand Hall. You can interpret that any way you like, but know that the soundtrack is hits from the past 50 years. Come dressed to fit the theme and compete for prizes!

If you’re 21 or over, you can also hit the IndyGoth Afterparty Saturday at Taps Live, just a few blocks from the convention center. This party has live music from The Kentucky Vampires (deathrock), DJs, and is 100 percent dark dance.

Don’t forget to take time to eat—Indy has a LOT of great grub—whether it’s at the fantastic food trucks along Georgia Street, or at one of our Gen Con-loving restaurants like Bee Coffee (get one of their Die for Coffee punch cards to earn special dice and chips while drinking exclusive con drinks like The Sith), HotBox Pizza, Scotty’s, The Ram, Shula’s, Ruth’s Chris, and new to the game this year, Harry & Izzy’s. Be at their place Saturday to sample the famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail (you know, the one that world champion eater Joey Chestnut loves—he devoured 15 pounds of it in 8 minutes during last year’s Big Ten weekend) and win prizes.

Have fun, be safe, and play like a champion!

Lara neal
When it comes to drinking and dining in Indianapolis Lara has an appetite for exploration. If you want to learn about great local tastes and flavors that you’ll only find in Indy, let Lara be your guide.
FOLLOW: @cocoroo


We look forward to hosting you.



Indy’s best events and deals in your inbox.


The official guide to great times in Indy.