Your intrepid Seattle-based gaming correspondent Tim Ellis (that’s me) hit the road this weekend to visit Indianapolis, home of , the nation’s largest and oldest tabletop gaming convention. The main Expo Hall at Gen Con The convention spreads out across the entire Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts), and the ballroom space of several large nearby hotels. More than 60,000 attendees crowd the venues, seeking out classic games, tabletop role-playing, brand new releases, upcoming titles, and prototypes of games still being developed. The scene at the con is crowded, but super friendly. Even in the jam-packed hallways waiting for the main expo hall to open, the crowd is upbeat and joins together in a cheerful chant of “here we come!” Although people come from all over the country (and world) to attend Gen Con, the famous really comes through as you interact with your fellow attendees. Strangers will strike up a conversation with you in the elevators! I sat down to play a demo of one two-player game and the company rep running the demo had no problem at all getting a random passer-by to happily join me. As I played through another game demo, a stranger came up and started asking me questions about it! These are all experiences I don’t think I’ve ever had at the similar Seattle-based gaming convention West, where the Seattle freeze seems to extend into the convention center. A giant game of Catan takes place at Gen Con Speaking of PAX, the expo hall at Gen Con is focused on low-tech physical games made mostly of cardboard, wood, and plastic, and thus has a very different feel from the equivalent space at PAX (which includes tabletop gaming but is dominated by video games). The Gen Con expo hall is bright and relatively quiet. Rather than a cacophony of game demos blasting at your ears from every direction, there’s just the quiet murmur of the crows. It also lacks the giant displays, massive props, and enormous video screens that make up the bulk of the vendor booths in the PAX expo hall. There are a few traces of video gaming at Gen Con, including a classic arcade room and an appearance from the controversial arcade gaming legend Billy Mitchell, of “King of Kong” fame, the classic documentary that pitted him against Seattle-area teacher Steve Wiebe. Mitchell is here to make a live attempt at a “perfect game” on Pac-Man. Controversial arcade gaming legend Billy Mitchell, of “King of Kong” fame, attempts a “perfect game” on Pac-Man at Gen Con Many Seattle-based game companies also made the trip out to Indianapolis to show off their latest, including Funko Games, Ravensburger, , and many small indie game publishers and developers like and (run by former ). Even Penny Arcade (creators of PAX) have a small booth focused on . Here’s a look inside the show this weekend, for everyone who isn’t here in Indianapolis:
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can . 1. Less than a year after making a $3 billion investment into the future of virtual reality with the purchase of VR, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was considering another multi-billion-dollar bet by buying Unity, the popular game engine that’s used to build half of all gaming titles. At least, that’s the claim made in a new book, “The History of the Future,” by Blake Harris, which digs deep into the founding story of Oculus and the drama surrounding the acquisition, subsequent lawsuits and personal politics of founder Palmer Luckey. 2. Although the companies were relatively quiet about the deal, it could end up being pretty significant, showing both the market connections between China and Europe and the margin pressures that many smaller remittance companies are under in the wake of larger companies like Amazon building their own money-moving services. 3. We round up everything Nintendo announced yesterday, from Super Mario Maker 2 to the unexpected remake of Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening. 4. Dog mode is meant to accomplish two things: to keep dogs (or perhaps a hamster or cat) in a climate-controlled environment if left unattended in a vehicle, and to let passersby know their status. 5. Users of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel woke up this morning to find an email in their inboxes warning that their account information had been stolen by a third-party who gained unauthorized access to the company’s systems. 6. Apple was forced to pull the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models from shelves in the country last month, after chipmaker Qualcomm posted security bonds to enforce a December court injunction. 7. Malt has created a marketplace for companies and engineers working as freelancers. There are currently 100,000 freelancers on the platform and 15,000 companies using Malt regularly.