Monday, September 14, 2020

Early Coverage of GenCon

This is the cover to the November-December 1968 issue of Avalon Hill's The General, heralding the "Convention at Lake Geneva," an event that history would later refer to as GenCon I. (I must sheepishly admit that, until fairly recently, I had blindly assumed that "GenCon" was merely a syllabic abbreviation for "[Lake] Geneva Convention," which it is, but it's also very likely a play on the Geneva Conventions governing humanitarian treatment in warfare.)

There's some brief coverage of the con itself inside this issue, which is full of praise for its organization and level of attendance (96 people from all across the United States). There's also a brief profile of Gary Gygax. who would have been 31 years-old at the time.

Of particular note in the above story is the mention of Fight in the Skies games being run. FITS (later Dawn Patrol) by Mike Carr holds the distinction of being the only game that has been played at every GenCon. So important is Fight in the Skies that it's even parodied in Volume 3 of OD&D as "Battle in the Skies" or BITS.

The General continued to cover GenCon every summer until 1975. That was the year that the Origins International Game Expo began. Not coincidentally, Avalon Hill was a major sponsor of Origins, which soon became a competitor to GenCon. Learning this provided me with some much needed background to strange rumblings I'd often read in the pages of Dragon, about disputes between TSR (voiced by Gary Gygax) and the organizers of Origins. 

But that's all in the future. In 1968, the first GenCon was hailed as a triumph and a "giant step upward toward recognition as a nationwide hobby."

1 comment:

  1. The "Secrets of Blackmoor" crew have unearthed a ton of interesting information on "BITS" and even ran a game at Gary Con, last year.