Games

Ten Reasons to Celebrate GhengisCon’s Fortieth Anniversary

All that was missing from the fortieth were the black balloons and the obligatory "Over the Hill" greeting card.
All that was missing from the fortieth were the black balloons and the obligatory "Over the Hill" greeting card. Teague Bohlen
It was a good year for geeks, 1977. Dungeons and Dragons was just hitting the mainstream (and starting to be attacked as evil…which, of course, only fueled its popularity). The Atari 2600 was released, which was pretty much the end of going outside to play for the next decade. A little kids’ movie called Star Wars was just about to change the world. And in the middle of it all, GenghisCon was born here in Denver.

Forty years later, GenghisCon still celebrates all things joyfully nerd-tastic, especially anything that has to do with games and gaming and the desire to never stop playing. In return, we’d like to celebrate GenghisCon itself on its fortieth. Remember,  you don’t stop playing because you grow old — you grow old because you stop playing. So here are ten of the best ways to stay young, as seen at the fortieth GenghisCon, February 16-19, 2017, in Aurora.
click to enlarge A clear case of gamer overcompensation. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
A clear case of gamer overcompensation.
Teague Bohlen
1. Dice
Where would the hobby be without all those weirdly-shaped dice? Polyhedrons are where it’s at, man, in every color of the rainbow. Metallic? Got it. Made from meteor rock? It’ll cost you, but sure. Twenty-siders the size of your head, as well as ones too tiny to actually read (especially if you were around for GenghisCon 1)? It’s all here. Name them, protect them, store them in your Crown Royal bag…gamers love them some dice.

click to enlarge That's pretty much the face of anyone witnessing the Millennium Falcon landing in front of them. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
That's pretty much the face of anyone witnessing the Millennium Falcon landing in front of them.
Teague Bohlen
2. Amazing Virtual Reality
Hadley’s Hope Nerdporium (based in Craig) was one of a few VR providers at the show this year, but Shaun Hadley and his team were wise enough to let con-goers experience seeing the Millennium Falcon land, wield a lightsaber to guard R2-D2, and generally participate virtually in the communal love of Star Wars. Watching the smiles on con-goers’ faces as they’re literally awestruck? Almost as much fun as the VR experience itself.

click to enlarge Sure, they look cute, but remember that one of those eyestalks shoots a disintegration ray. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
Sure, they look cute, but remember that one of those eyestalks shoots a disintegration ray.
Teague Bohlen
3. Geek Crafts
Only at a convention like GenghisCon are you going to find such a wide array of crafters putting their skills to use creating nerd-tastic things from yarn and felt and love. Cthulu kittens? Check. Glittering fairy-wings? We have a selection. Cuddly and colorful stuffed beholders? Absolutely. The only thing missing was macramé owlbears.
click to enlarge Here's hoping for a song called "Acererak Bites the Dust" on the next album. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
Here's hoping for a song called "Acererak Bites the Dust" on the next album.
Teague Bohlen
4. Gamer Music
Harking back to the days when GenghisCon was itself young, members of the band Bards of Greyhawk belt out their first-edition love with a module-design CD cover (featuring art by no less than TSR classic Jeff Dee). The songs are all odes to the original weird and Gygaxian adventures from the ’80s, with tracks like “Keraptis,” “Roghan and Zelligar,” and a three-part tribute to the Slavelords. If you understood any of the references in this entry, you’ll love this album.


click to enlarge Just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't go anywhere near that big green open-mouth face. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
Just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't go anywhere near that big green open-mouth face.
Teague Bohlen
5. Miniatures
There were, as you might expect, more than a few dealers hawking miniatures for both war-gaming and role-playing purposes (as well as just for display: If you haven’t seen the advances in these little figures since the early mud-sculpts of the ’80s, you’re in for a surprise). But Figurephenatix Collectibles had one of the most impressive displays, featuring everything from giants and dragons down to the tiniest kobold and goblin laid out, ready to attack and lend a visual aspect to the theater of the mind. Or, you know, you could just play with them.

Keep reading for more reasons to celebrate GhengisCon.

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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