Gencon Oz 2009by Luke Carroll, Oct 20th 2009
From the 18th to the 20th of September, Brisbane's Convention and Exhibition Centre hosted what can only be described as the ultimate gaming convention in Queensland. Featuring almost every modern form of gaming around it's hard not to find something that wouldn't tickle your interests. Now in its second year on Australian soil, Gen Con's aim to top their first years effort certainly seems in the bag. However our visit on Sunday proved they still have a lot more they can improve on.
Arriving just a touch before the Exhibition Area was to be opened the first thing that became evident was the rather low attendance waiting to get in. Although there were a few groups to be found settling into the already opened Games Area, it still totaled to a surprisingly low amount when the public was finally allowed into the Exhibition Area at 9am. Thankfully the lack of crowds did provide the perfect opportunity to visit the vendors and try the games on display without any waiting around.
Although Gen Con does cater for gaming of all types, its hard not to take notice of the presence commanded by all forms of tabletop gaming. A simple glance at the rather nicely created program book will have you in awe at the number of card games, war games and role playing games seemingly running at once. Those not participating in the above events are certainly not forgotten. However the options for video game and anime fans are noticeably slimmer in comparison. On the topic of the program book, it was a surprise to see a map not present anywhere. Although it generally didn't require much searching to find the right areas for events, it certainly seemed like a strange omission regardless.
Nevertheless, after circling the floor a multitude of times and trying everything on offer it was time to head to the first of what would be a non-stop selection of events. On offer at 11am was Gaming Trivia with Yatzee and the Australian Gamer Crew and the Cosplay Panel (which was seemingly misprinted as the Anime Trivia in the program book). The gaming trivia certainly proved to be a hit with the audience as two teams were selected and humiliated in a test of their gaming knowledge. The cosplay panel also managed to draw a dedicated albeit much smaller crowd keen on learning how to improve their cosplay skills.
Soon enough though it was time for the Cosplay Olympics. Dealing with the hindrance of both a delayed start due to a previous event over-running and the dubious lack of microphone and speakers, the Smash! organised Cosplay Olympics managed to still prove an enjoyable display as teams of cosplayers completed in a selection of events designed to make them look for lack of a better word— silly. Although the lack of a microphone certainly made it much harder to hear exactly what was going on, the crowd still got into the events and certainly got a chuckle when the more sillier tasks got dealt to the contestants. With the initial delay causing the event to run long past its scheduled finish, the wait until the next event—the Costume Competition— was a lot briefer than expected.
Once again run by the Smash! team, the Costume Competition proved to be the highlight of the day as an almost endless line of cosplayers lined up to show off their outfits to the crowd. Despite being scheduled to run for only two hours, the never ending line of participants as well as the many breaks for prize mini games and all out tomfoolery by the hosts led to the event running a near hour past that, finishing just shy of closing time. With no events scheduled to continue past closing time, the day had officially come to an end.
For only its second year, Gen Con has managed to come a surprisingly long way. The layout of the event is much better as well as an improvement in events of all types. Unfortunately as today showed, they still have a few things they could improve on, however Gen Con certainly is looking like it is here to stay, and that to me can only be a good thing.