Gen Con for Everyone

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

As gigantic as Gen Con Indy has become, it's not hard to say that the show has something for everyone. If it's a game or style of gaming you're looking for, you're more likely than not to find it there. The convention's courting of younger fans, families, and even non-gamers has gone a long way in making the show feel like an event for everyone. In the past several years, Gen Con has grown into a fantastic meeting place for gamers of all shapes, genders, sexual preferences, ethnicities, and ages. If you love gaming, there's sure to be a community at Gen Con for you.

This year, though, Gen Con's vociferous welcome to gamers of all stripes proved to be about more than just marketing.

In March, when Indiana passed its controversial SB 101 bill—which, in part, protects businesses that wish to discriminate against same-sex couples—Gen Con wasn't quiet about it. The company issued a letter to Indiana's Governor Mike Pence, asking that he reconsider his support of the bill. They went on to explain that "Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years." As the largest annual convention held at the Indianapolis Convention Center—one that draws an estimated 50 million dollars to the city—Gen Con has some weight to put behind its words. That said, the convention also has a contract with the city of Indianapolis that lasts until 2020, so whatever action Gen Con chooses to take in response to SB 101—which remains Indiana state law—will take some time. Acknowledging such, Gen Con CEO and Owner Adrian Swartout issued a letter to Gen Con attendees, restating the convention's commitment to inclusivity and asking con-goers to contact Gen Con regarding both positive and negative experiences they have with local hospitality (you can see the complete letter here).

As a young gamer, Gen Con always felt like a place where I was accepted for who I was. Today, as a married gay man, it still does. I've always had an especially warm welcome in Indianapolis, and I don't see the passage of March's law changing that. At the same time, though, I also can't overstate how much I appreciate Gen Con standing up for all its attendees.

For the past several years it's been my honor to be a panelist on the popular Queer as a Three-Sided Die seminar, as well as on Paizo's own Diversity in Gaming panel. These discussions and events like them have been forums for enthusiastic feedback and invaluable criticism. They've been eye-opening and, at times, emotional experiences attended by folks who haven't always felt welcomed by their own fandoms. They've helped calibrate my perspective as a writer, game maker, and editor, and have had a direct, positive impact on the content of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. And they've all happened with the help of the supportive, earnest allies at Gen Con—both those who make the show happen and those who come to the show year after year. These events have become highlights of the show for me, not just because they're tremendously energetic, but because they've been a way to prove that, no matter who you are, you're absolutely welcome at the game table.

This year, I expect Gen Con to be the same as it always is—filled with amazing people, awesome events, and a community that knows what's really important: having great times with the people you care about. But even though this year has been filled with fantastic changes for many, that doesn't mean that your support or that of events like Gen Con is any less important. So be sure to swing by any of the great diversity or LGBTQ events going on at the show (a few can be found at TabletopGaymers.org, but be sure to post others you know of in the comments below). You can also nab your very own rainbow Gaymer ribbon at the Rogue Judges HQ table in Hall C—I know I'll have mine.

That Gen Con is so dedicated to fostering one big welcoming gamer community—well, for me, that's part of what really makes it the Best Four Days in Gaming.

Hope to see you all in Indy!

F. Wesley Schneider
Editor-in-Chief

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Tags: Conventions Gen Con Paizo

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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Well said Wes. Here's hoping for an awesome Gen Con experience for everyone!


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For gamers of all shapes, genders, sexual preferences, ethnicities, ages and beliefs. Everyone have a great Gen Con!

Paizo Employee Senior Editor

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Note too that the city of Indianapolis is on the same page as Gen Con—the mayor has issued an executive order affirming that businesses that receive city funds must serve LGBT customers and calling on the state to re-add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in Indiana, and the city has had workplace protections for LGBT employees for a while.

And let's us attendees do our best to be welcoming and treat everyone with respect. ^_^

Editor-in-Chief

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Well put, Judy! Be awesome to one another. :)

Community Manager

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I think you mean "Be Excellent to Each Other," or "Be Not the Cretin." :P

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
I think you mean "Be Excellent to Each Other," or "Be Not the Cretin." :P

And party on!


"Party on Dude."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

All we are is dust in the wind, dude.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Bill & Ted tangent:
Is the line "Death wears funny underpants" actually in the second film? Or is it only in the comic adaptation I have?


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"That Gen Con is so dedicated to fostering one big welcoming gamer community" as long as you think the right thoughts.

Most of the vocal supporters of Gen Con's statement outright said that they wanted to drive out those who don't support "marriage equality". So you'll have to excuse my cynicism whenever someone wants to compel someone else into performing a business transaction by threat of force (which all laws ultimately are) and calls that "inclusiveness".

Editor-in-Chief

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Fergurg wrote:

"That Gen Con is so dedicated to fostering one big welcoming gamer community" as long as you think the right thoughts.

Most of the vocal supporters of Gen Con's statement outright said that they wanted to drive out those who don't support "marriage equality". So you'll have to excuse my cynicism whenever someone wants to compel someone else into performing a business transaction by threat of force (which all laws ultimately are) and calls that "inclusiveness".

"Driving out" anyone seems very much against the intention of the convention and its message.

I can't speak for everyone who supported the convention's call, but Adrian Swartout's own letter to the Gen Con community goes so far as to say that they support and welcome all attendees. Which is fantastic, and something I sincerely hope no one sees as a threat.

However, if you feel differently and would like a wider forum, I'd encourage you to come to this Gen Con's Queer as a Three-Sided Die panel, which is very much open to everyone—members of the LGBTQ community, allies, and all others who'd like to learn more about their fellow gamers.

I think you'll find it an open, well-reasoned crowd that's hard not to love. :)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was extremely pleased with the stance Gen Con took.

And I'm happy to be going to Indianapolis this year, to enjoy games, meals, beverages, and good conversation with gamers of many varieties. The only people I dislike doing any of that with are those who act like a jerk, and I've run into very few of those over the years since I first attended the con in 1992.

And I'm happy to have met all 3 of the Paizo staffers who have posted above (tho they may not all remember me) and I know what warm, inclusive people they all are, to all gamers.

Can't wait!!

Paizo Employee Developer

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Make that four, Shackleton! See you in a few weeks!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I wish I could get down there...


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A very good blogpost. Nice work FWS.

It pleases me to see the greater impacts "gaming" has on life, society and culture. And the greater impacts life, society and culture have had on "gaming".

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm with Oceanshieldwolf, this is a really great blog post, recognizing Gencon and Indy for striving to overcome the institutionalized prejudice coming down from the state level. Piazo/Pathfinder have always done an outstanding job of integrating a wide variety of discriminated earthly demographics into their world in such a way as to emphasize the campaign settings stance on equality.

Kudos Paizo, and kudos to Gencon and Indianapolis, and hopefully the Indiana voters see the errors of their governments ways.


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The stance GenCon took against that bill was one of my proudest moments as a gamer, to know that when the eyes of the nation were directed towards the hobby, it was in order to take a stand for inclusiveness.

As for driving away those who don't support marriage equality, I don't think anyone should be driven away, but inclusiveness doesn't require one be tolerant of the intolerant. The goal of tolerance is to reduce the overall amount of suffering, and frankly, there's no room in my thoughts for those who would deny others happiness for no good reason.

Grand Lodge

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Wes, well said.

I happen to work on the inside at the Indiana Statehouse; it was quite the fiasco. As a native resident of Indiana (Hoosier-whatever that means), I was quite embarrassed by the way our Governor and Legislature went about imposing their particular religious beliefs on the State, which obviously produces a detrimental effect on our economy and perception.

I hope fellow con-goers feel welcome and know the entire state isn't represented by the government currently in power.

Scarab Sages

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nogoodscallywag wrote:

Wes, well said.

I hope fellow con-goers feel welcome and know the entire state isn't represented by the government currently in power.

Most Hoosiers no longer support Mike Pence as governor: Recent Poll

I will stand up for anyone I see being discriminated or harassed, especially at Gencon. Fortunately that has never been my experience in Indianapolis.

Contributor

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As Judy mentioned above, Mayor Ballard issued an executive order essentially countermanding the governor's bill in Indianapolis. This was especially unusual as Ballard and Pence are members of the same party: no way not to see this move as anything other than a thumb in the governor's eye. Much of the politics driving this discrimination-sanctioning bill originated in the far more reactionary rural areas of the state, which exert outsized influence in the halls of government.

What made me really proud of GenCon and the values of the gamer community that it reflects (acceptance, not tolerance), is that the Con was the FIRST entity to take a public stance on the dubiously titled RFRA. All other corporate and organizational announcements followed in GenCon's wake.

I've lived in Indianapolis for the past 20-some years. Let's hope that the blowback from this ill-considered act teaches the haters that the times, they are a-changin'. With gamers in the vanguard.

See you in three weeks!


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Great post!

As others have said, the inhabitants of Indianapolis have never been anything less than welcoming... even as we wandered their streets in outlandish costumes and accidentally went to their fancy restaurants in T-shirts.

But we were seriously considering taking a year off before GenCon's statement and the mayor's response. Bullying doesn't sit well with us, particularly as most of our group fall somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum anyway.

So, I'm very glad GenCon and Indy came out so strong on this. On a lot of levels.

Cheers!
Landon


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wes wrote: " Indiana passed its controversial SB 101 bill — which, in part, protects businesses that wish to discriminate against same-sex couples."

I seriously had to reread this line twice. I live in Europe and I hadn't heard about this yet. I thought it was a mistake and it meant to say 'prosecute' instead of 'protect'. I find this very shocking and I cannot understand how such a bill could ever be passed in a modern democracy. So I'm in full support of all people and organizations speaking out against it!

Scarab Sages

I thought that because of the outrage, SB 101 was given an amendment preventing businesses from using it to discriminate against the LGBT+ community. Please excuse my ignore if this is not the case.

Paizo Employee Senior Editor

The amendment was defeated, unfortunately.

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