Denver's Favorite Gaming Convention Returns

The flyer for the very first Ghengis Con, back in 1979. The dice have kept on rollin' since.
The flyer for the very first Ghengis Con, back in 1979. The dice have kept on rollin' since. Toan Ngo
The long-running Denver tabletop-gaming convention Genghis Con will return live and in person in February, standing tall against the prevailing winds of the pandemic, armed with dice, a few rulebooks and miniatures, and a lot of love for both the games and those who play them. Genghis Con is mustering its allies and issuing a rallying cry: Game on.

It’s been almost two years since the last Genghis Con, which was held on Valentine’s Day 2020. “COVID wasn’t even on our radar,” recalls convention co-owner Andre'a Arnold. “I believe we were the last convention before the news of the pandemic really hit.” The timing of what would have been the 2021 event made it impossible, so that year was canceled outright.

“But we’ve had gamers from all over the country begging us to hold Genghis Con this year," she adds, "so we made the decision to get people together again in as safe an environment as possible. Gamers are social people. We miss our tribe.”

That tribe has been around — and growing — since 1979, when the first convention was held in Denver. “In the early years, Genghis Con was almost run as a club," Arnold recalls. "Then it was a nonprofit for a while.”

Genghis Con was bought by Matt Rowles, who owned it for a handful of years before meeting Arnold at a movie night. She and her husband agreed to buy the rights for both Genghis Con and Tacticon, which they run under the umbrella of Gamer Girl Games.

“[Rowles] was getting ready to run one of the shows again, and he said he was just tired of doing it and was thinking of selling the conventions. And we said, 'Cool. We’ll buy them,'" Arnold recalls. "He thought we were kidding. We were not kidding.”
click to enlarge Andre'a Arnold poses with a quilt made from the many convention T-shirts over the decades. - TOAN NGO
Andre'a Arnold poses with a quilt made from the many convention T-shirts over the decades.
Toan Ngo
This year’s Genghis Con might be slightly smaller than normal in terms of numbers, but that’s more by circumstance than design. Badge sales are strong, and the top-flight “VIG” (Very Important Gamer) packages are already sold out.

It makes sense — especially to the gaming community — that the convention is stirring some serious excitement. “It’ll all start Thursday night, day one of the show,” says co-owner Donny Arnold, Andre’a’s husband. “We have Gooey Cube [a game designer company from Colorado Springs] coming in to host our grand-opening ceremony, with a huge game giveaway for everyone that walks in.”

He extols the many attractions at the convention over the weekend: a gaming and pop-culture vendor floor, a live-action dungeon crawl from RPEX, a “Friday Night Bar Fight” with real-world drinks and real-world prizes, and “more Dungeons & Dragons games than most other Dungeons & Dragons-specific conventions. We have more than 400 total gaming events scheduled overall, with many more to come.”

Andre’a Arnold's favorite aspect of the weekend is the 5,000-piece puzzle for attendees to enjoy during their downtime between adventures. It’s set up in the main hallway on Thursday night, and by the end of the weekend, she promises, it will be complete.

“It's very cool. This community takes really good care of each other, so it’s nice for us to take care of the community,” she concludes.

Genghis Con 44 runs from Thursday, February 24, to Sunday, February 27, at the Hyatt Regency Conference Center, 13200 East 14th Place, Aurora. Ticket prices vary; they're available now.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen