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Other Things Seen at Gen Con 2023: Megusa, Smells, Wood, Lost Opportunities, and Corn

by W. Eric Martin

Wow, for once I have actually finished coverage of an event instead of simply running out of time and being overrun with game announcements for whatever is coming next. (I still have notes and pics from GAMA Expo 2023, for example, not to mention the trick-taking event I attended in January 2023 and SPIEL ’22 and…)

To celebrate, I’ve rounded up all of the non-game specific images that I thought worth sharing. Let me know whether you agree or not and would like to see more such nonsense in this space in the future.

• Each Gen Con, I typically say to myself, “Self, you should watch the cosplay parade”, then I forget to do so because I’m busy with other activities.

Even so, one costume always catches my eye each show, and I’m blown away by the cleverness and work involved in bringing it to completion. For Gen Con 2023, the clear winner was Megusa.

• I’ve already posted pics of the final balloon sculpture at Gen Con 2023, but here are two shots from the first day of the show when it was already clear to me that these artists were working on a different level, with lots of texture and tiny details that make that black wall of balloons more than just a black wall.

The colorful balloons in the center of the X will be hidden by the time the moon lander is complete, but they add mystery to the initial building stage since it’s not clear what you’re seeing.

• A small recurring theme among retailers was odor…in a good way. Here’s a sign that caught my eye on Thursday morning:

• And another I spotted while walking the city to a media event:

• I started getting primed for such things, so I initially read the sign below as “Sniff yourself” and thought, sure, why not?

• I texted this Pennywise clown mask, which was for sale in the Trick or Treat Studios booth, to my son as I knew he’d recoil in disgust from it…but in a fun way.

• And here’s the Gen Con 2023 pic that I sent my wife, who would appreciate the idea of a dog hypnotizing everyone with its vast blue eyes.

• One thing I’m continually surprised by at conventions is that publishers don’t take advantage of lines to demo their games. The Lorcana line below is a prime example. All of these people want to play games, yet they’re not playing games right now. Couldn’t someone demo a handheld game or use a cigarette girl style-tray in order to play something?

Maybe Gen Con regulations prohibit such a thing, but if a line is wrapping around a publisher’s booth — something that happened multiple times throughout the show, typically for an item available in limited quantities — then that publisher should be demoing a game to those people. Make their wait fun and memorable, not a drag…and maybe you’ll pick up a few POP (point of purchase) sales along the way.

Yes, I worked in retail long ago, and I’m constantly thinking about such things.

• The party game Trash Talk from Andrea Pincumbe and Matt Fantastic debuted at Gen Con 2023, and it would be an ideal game to demo on a cigarette girl style-tray to folks waiting in line — although then you would have lost the ambience of the publisher booth. The gist of the game: Try to match the same pieces of trash to the words on display as other people do.

Trash Talk is the debut title from publisher Friendly Skeleton, which was previously known as Deep Water Games. I asked Jacob Way about the change, and he said that including the word “deep” in the publisher name was not a good representation of their titles, so they decided to rebrand.

Way also mentioned that it cost more to have the dumpster moved from the back of the Indianapolis Convention Center (ICC) to the exhibit hall floor than it cost to rent the dumpster. Yes, really. You are prohibited from doing many things yourself when setting up an exhibitor booth at Gen Con, such as rolling a dumpster less than fifty feet, so do your research before you design your booth!

• Ground level at the Lucas Oil Stadium next to the ICC, where much gaming took place away from the exhibit and event halls.

CATAN is old news to many gamers, but the game still has a strong presence each Gen Con, with many people playing whatever the latest iteration of the game is and checking out the sheepmobile parked in front of the ICC to pick up CATAN swag.

While looking into various rooms, I ran across Brick and Wood (not their real names). These guys approached people in lines or elsewhere at the show and offered packs of CATAN pins to trade with others. Wood, for example, gave you a pack of five “wood” pins, so you need to find other attendees who had wheat, sheep, brick, or ore and trade your wood to them. Once you had all five pins, you could visit the CATAN booth for a robber sheep button and entry into raffles.

I just kept all my wood and brought it home with me. Please don’t play the monopoly card on me!

• Speaking of CATAN, very helpful, guys…

• The BGG Hot Games Room seemed decently packed each time I visited.

We recorded and published checkout stats for the HGR, but as Scott Alden notes on that page, the stats are probably undercounting actual use of the games on hand. We asked that people visit the checkout booth so that we could scan the game’s barcode and thereby record use, but you could just take a game from the library table to your table, play it, then return it without anyone knowing it was gone.

• This sign and its partner, barely visible on the next pole, amused me thanks to the specific, yet still flexible wording letting folks know who could park what where.

• Found on the street: one eyebrow. Please contact the Indianapolis Department of Public Works if this is yours.

• Mid-progress mural seen while walking the town.

• I’m intrigued by the “Don’t Care” / “Care” sign. The gentleman passing by did press that button to show “Care”, but after that…?

• Here’s how every publisher wants Sunday to end: Sellouts across the board.

I contributed to the Hobby Japan sellout, buying one of each of the Susumu Kawasaki titles: R-ECO+, Master of Rules, and Builder’s High.

I also explained the first two games to folks near the booth when I saw them looking at the display case curiously and having that curiosity go unanswered. Master of Rules is a neat quasi-trick-taking game in which players play both a rule and a numbered card each round, trying to fulfill their own rule while denying others. R-Eco is a fantastic and thematic card game that I’ve played dozens of times and wish was widely available on store shelves around the world. Builder’s High…as yet sits unplayed.

• On Monday morning, nothing more than a sign remains to suggest what just took place at the ICC.

• Airline regulations require you to purchase corn to protect yourself in the event of an emergency.


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