“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Here we are, another month closer to Gen Con and we have some new facts and — like you — we still have our own share of questions about the future. I’ll do my best to outline below what has changed, what hasn’t, and what we’re still trying to figure out. We also recognize that the pandemic has brought hardship and loss to many of our friends and loved ones, and our hearts are with those in the Gen Con community who have suffered in the last 15 months. We’re thankful too, for those who have worked tirelessly in healthcare and essential services during this time.
First, what has changed? At this point, vaccines are now widely available throughout the country and even many of our overseas friends are starting to report an uptick in vaccination rates. This is great news! The vaccines work extraordinarily well and we’re starting to see the effects in terms of case rates and hospitalizations. At Gen Con Worldwide HQ we’re 100% vaccinated (though still mostly working from our homes) and we encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as practicable. Our hope is that every eligible Gen Con attendee is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending.
Many have asked us about proof of vaccination or vaccine passports. While proof of vaccination is being required in some venues around the country, the regulations, best practices, and norms are still evolving. With Gen Con still four months away it is too soon to tell what best practices and/or case rates will look like in September, so we simply cannot say if this is something we will do as well. As always throughout this pandemic, our commitment is to be proactive with regard to health and safety for everyone, including attendees, exhibitors, event organizers, and attendees at Gen Con, and we’ll provide another update on this in June when hopefully we know more.
Masks: Masking has been shown to be very effective against the spread of airborne viruses such as COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently lifted mask guidance for vaccinated individuals. We are tracking closely the response of state and local governments as well as businesses and venues as they adapt to this new guidance. As of this week, masks are still required at the Indiana Convention Center and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. It is possible that mask guidance could change in the coming months, especially as it relates to large, indoor events like Gen Con. Do know, however, that in most cases, Gen Con will take the more conservative approach to masking. In other words, if the official guidance is “no masks are ok, but masks on are better,” then we will opt for better. And if masks are required, Gen Con staff will enforce it.
As a general rule, any guidelines or restrictions at Gen Con will apply universally in those areas directly controlled by Gen Con. This means individual events or event organizers will have to comply with all requirements and will not be able to adjust requirements for their own individual games or events.
Second, what is not changing? At this time, we are still planning on the following restrictions at Gen Con related to COVID-19:
- Reduced capacity at roughly 50% of normal size
- Timed entry to the exhibit hall during the busiest times
- Increased spacing for gaming tables
- Nightly closure of the convention center for cleaning and sanitizing
- More outdoor activations
With regards to exhibit hall timed entry, we expect to regulate entrance up until noon of each day and then to open the halls fully until closing for the day. Entries will be made available via our event ticketing system, and we’ll provide more details in advance of event registration and in our next month’s update.
Again, we may loosen some of these restrictions as we get closer to the convention and if conditions warrant, especially the size cap. More than anything else we’d love to welcome each and every person who wants to attend this year, but for now, we’re going to have to keep it a little smaller than normal.
Despite the pandemic, the growth of tabletop gaming continues like never before and likewise Gen Con 2021 will be a Gen Con like no other! While there are a lot of things that will be different, and some things missing from your typical Gen Con experience, many of your favorites will be on-hand this year and we are welcoming new exhibitors and events. We are working on a few surprises to make 2021 a memorable year but in the end, we feel the best memory of all will come from simply seeing many of our gaming friends for the first time in over two years. It’s just been way too long … and we can’t wait!