Monday, August 15, 2011

Gamers in the Making: Family Days at Gen Con 2011

Gen Con has been The board gaming destination for years.  Dubbed "The Best Four Days in Gaming," it is no surprise that this year's attendance jumped a whopping 20%.  36,733 unique attendees graced the halls of the convention center to do what they love most, play games!

And one of the hottest spots this year was the Family Fun Pavilion and Training Grounds areas. These sections of the main hall are dedicated to introducing kids to the gaming world and all of its possibilities.  By the time Saturday and Sunday rolled around, this area was swarming with kids, parents, and grandparents all looking for great family fun.  Just take a look at the smiling faces.

This year's family exhibitors included Blue Orange Games, Chaotic Connections, Compound Fun, Crystal Tower Games, GameBrotherz, The Haywire Group, INI LLC, LEGO, Mattel, Moosetache Games, Mindtwister USA, North Star Games, Out of the Box, School on Wheels, Spin Master & USAopoly.  Here are some of the highlights.

LEGO had an impressive set up that catered to everyone young and old.  It was not uncommon to see lines of people waiting to test out the newest games in their booth.  Heroica was especially popular. It is a new series of adventure games that can be played separately or together.  Every Herocia game is a unique adventure that you build and explore with LEGOS.  Highly customizable, this game has loads of re-playability and can be customized for a wide range of skill levels.

North Star Games was showing off their newest party game, Crappy Birthday.  Crappy Birthday is said to be "a humorous game about pranking your friends with gifts they don’t want."  As expected, loud laughter emanated from their booth as families and gamers alike demoed their hilarious games.  They also were sporting their wheel of prizes which is always a big hit with fans at Gen Con.


GameBrotherz had a nifty little booth that my son would have loved (see Elmo's appearance with Spuzzle below).  These bright and cheerful games had major kid appeal and the booth was always buzzing with families.  They were featuring three titles.  Spuzzle was a quick little puzzle building game that is great, with a little adult help, for kids as young as 3.  Boo, ages 5+, and Mister Mailman Junior, ages 8+, were both racing games that would make any kids smile.

Spin Master was another impressive booth with their holographic Redakai cards featured prominently within.  Families and gamers could demo this innovative new game throughout the four days.  Here's the back story of the Redakai universe:
"Many years ago, a great battle took place between two powerful Redakai masters, Boaddai and Lokar -- a battle that would forever change the fate of the universe. Known today as the Great Cataclysm, the event resulted in the destruction of the planet Nevrod and the scattering of Kairu energy across Earth.
The Redakai of Earth have assigned their most promising warriors to find and collect Kairu energy. Their greatest challenge remains the villainous Lokar, who has assembled his own teams of warriors to find the Kairu before the Redakai. With the fate of the universe at stake, good and evil are put to the ultimate test."

Fireside Games, though technically not part of the family pavilion, was featuring Castle Panic and its new expansion!  Many have hoped for an expansion to this great cooperative game and the wait is now over. Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower features an ally, a friendly Wizard, who provides magic spells to you while his Tower remains standing.  Make your stand against bigger and smarter monsters including the Dragon and Necromancer. Coming this fall to your FLGS.

Training Grounds
Like its name suggests, the training grounds is a great place for families and especially kids to learn the ins and outs of games.  There are areas for the kids to run amok battling with boffer weapons, doing crafts, or playing a variety of games.  best of all, kids can be left in the care of responsible adults so that parents can play some new games too!

So, the next time you are looking for a great place to take the family, think about a weekend at 
Gen Con
The Best Four Days of Family Gaming!!!

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