Yes, hmmm… well, all my regular readers know by now just how bad I am at keeping my vows to take a self-imposed vacation from this blog... *sigh*… nevertheless, I still intend to largely step away from blogging for the entire month of August, except for sponsored blogposts, so I can focus on other work that I need to attend to. See you in September!
However, this is a major event that warranted a proper write-up.
Gen Con is the largest tabletop gaming conference in North America, bringing together fans of traditional pen-and-paper, board, and card games, including role-playing games, miniatures war games, live action role-playing games, collectible card games, and strategy games. In 2019, the annual conference brought nearly 70,000 people to Indianapolis, the traditional home of the event.
However, this year, like so many other events, Gen Con was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. So the conference organizers decided to move Gen Con 2020 to a fully online version, including holding a number of events (including tabletop gameplay) taking place in the virtual world of Second Life!
According to the firm organizing the SL portion of Gen Con 2020, VRazeTheBar:
VRazeTheBar has partnered with Gen Con – the largest and longest running gaming convention in North America – to provide an awesome interactive social gaming experience built on Linden Lab’s Enterprise/Education version of Second Life, the world’s largest user-created virtual world of its kind enjoyed by millions of people around the globe. Be the first to join our proof of concept in a virtual world created by gamers for gamers.
Now because I am supposed to be on a self-imposed vacation from the blog (and apparently, I have been living under a rock, to boot), I did not even know that Gen Con was happening in Second Life until one of the organizers contacted me on Discord late last night. So I got up to speed in a hurry, and I decided to pay a visit on their opening day, and take a few pictures to share with you.
Gen Con 2020 is taking place in Second Life on four sims, which have been extensively designed with four levels each—there’s plenty of space, and lots to see and do!
The bottom level is an auditorium, where the short opening ceremony was held today. I was very kindly issued a media pass to roam around the event, so I came early and grabbed a seat next to Strawberry Linden, who was hard at work livestreaming the ceremony (I know it doesn’t look like she was busy in this picture, but trust me, she was!):
Patch Linden gave a short speech, the ceremonial Dungeons & Dragons die was rolled, and Gen Con was officially declared open!
The next level up from the auditorium is a surprisingly detailed virtual recreation of downtown Indianapolis, including the convention centre itself, and the food-truck-lined Georgia Street block party for which Gen Con is noted.
You can even pick up some free T-shirts!
This level also features a small Gen Con Museum, outlining the history of the convention since its start back in 1968:
Costumes are also a big part of Gen Con, so I do expect to see a lot of amazingly-outfitted avatars in my travels!
Yet another Gen Con 2020 level features medieval, renaissance, steampunk, fantasy, and futuristic game-playing regions, where attendees will meet up and play various table-top games within Second Life:
The topmost level features a post-apocalyptic urban scene, complete with roaming bands of hungry zombies! If you wish, you can even ride a fire-breathing dragon around the landscape (because why not?).
Strawberry Singh devoted a recent episode of Lab Gab to Gen Con 2020, interviewing the team of organizers behind the event. it turns out they pulled all this together in SL in just two months! That’s impressive!
Gen Con 2020 is free to attend, but you must first register for a (free) badge and then purchase (free) e-tickets for each of the events, including those being held in Second Life. Here is the Gen Con Online portal where you can register for a badge and select which sessions and events you wish to attend. This is presumably to avoid overbooking; many of the Gen Con sessions are already fully booked, but there are still spots available at daily Open Gaming Meet and Greet events taking place in Second Life as follows (remember, you still have to register!):
- Thursday, July 30th, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT)
- Friday, July 31st, 8:00 p.m. to Midnight EDT
- Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT
- Sunday, August 2nd, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT
There’s also a Saturday night dance on August 1st, running from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. EDT, which you can also register for online. See you there!
Now sometimes, when conferences are held in Second Life, the organizers will attempt to make some free clothes, shoes, and hair available, to give conference attendees the opportunity to change out of their starter SL avatar looks and avoid that cookie-cutter “newbie” look.
However, in the case of Gen Con 2020, the conference organizers very sensibly decided to refer people to the Freebie Village at the Helping Haven Gateway instead. So, I dropped in for a quick visit, just to see what was new, and I was extremely pleased to see that there has been a recent, extensive update to both the men’s and women’s collections of free apparel. There are now many new, high-quality mesh outfits, plus various kinds of footwear and jewelry, plus skins, hair, AOs, etc.
There are even free mesh bodies: the freebie versions of the Tommy and Estephania full-body mesh avatars from Altamura, plus the free eBody Classic and Curvy bodies, and a couple of other free “Ruth” women’s mesh bodies, such as the Bento, Bakes on Mesh-compatible RuthTooRC3 (which I review here). There’s also a nice-looking non-Bento (static) female mesh head. In short, the Helping Haven Gateway’s Freebie Village now ranks among the best freebie stores on the grid, in my opinion.
Here Vanity Fair models a couple of fabulous retro freebies she picked up from the womenswear building at Helping Haven: a multicolour debutante dress with a gathered waist (which comes in a pack of 13 different patterns, Maitreya Lara size only), plus a fully-adjustable, flowered pink straw hat (which is also tintable; I made it a slightly lighter shade of pink to match the rest of my outfit):
(The vintage pink pearl jewelry is a truly ancient Dark Mouse freebie, dragged from the murky depths of Vanity’s messy inventory, and the shoes are the versatile Wales pumps, a fatpack of which is the current monthly group gift from Essenz—but time is running out, so don’t wait to get these! The Essenz group costs L$350 to join, and this wonderful group gift alone is worth that much.)
Happy freebie shopping! See you at Gen Con!
UPDATE July 31st, 2020: Inara Pey has written a blogpost about Gen Con here.