What Are Gaming Conventions?


Game conventions are gatherings that bring together any number of gamers to participate in various types of gaming.
Game conventions are typically centered on one or more type of game, such as role-playing games, collectible card games, miniatures wargames, board games, video games, or other types of games. These conventions are typically two or three days long, and often held at a convention center, hotel conference room or other large hall that can accommodate a number of guests.
PAX East Gaming HallSeveral large gaming cons, such as E3 and PAX, tend to focus around video gaming, with producers and game developers attending to show off their latest creations. Most other game cons are smaller events with a focus around table top games, however some of the smaller shows also focus on video gaming. There are also many conventions based in other genres that have a significant gaming emphasis, such as Dragon*con.
Some things you might play at gaming cons are games like Munchkin from Steve Jackson games. Board games like this are more popular in the ‘open gaming’ areas, while tournaments usually revolve around more complex strategy-type board games like Dominion or Axis and Allies.

Gaming conventions typically have games scheduled for various time slots. Most gaming cons use some system of pre-registration to ensure that games are neither over-full nor under-full.

axis and allies tournamentCompetitive games typically have tournaments set out where players meet in matches. Prizes are typically awarded to the winners. There are also competitive role-playing games, where the best roleplayers, most successful parties, etc. get rewarded.  Most scheduled RPGs, however, are not competitive.

The types of games often include many of the following:

  • Collectible Card Games, like Magic: The Gathering & Pokémon
  • Board games
  • Role-playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, & Traveller
  • Table-top miniatures games like HeroClix, Car Wars, Flames of War and Warhammer
  • LARPs
  • Electronic games

Open gaming goes on throughout any such convention, and it is common that all seating in common areas will be taken by people playing pick-up games. Pick-up gaming is not generally discouraged by the convention management; in fact, pick-up games are a large part of the appeal of gaming conventions.

vendors hallThere is almost always a dealers’ room where various game manufacturers and related companies sell their products. Many game companies choose game cons to reveal new products.

Often there are other activities at a gaming convention as well. Costume balls, art auctions, and screenings of movies may all take place. Lectures, workshops, or panel discussions on gaming might be part of the programming, or for some cons, even the focus.