Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne gives us four observations on Gen Con, which wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

As you may or may not have noticed, Gen Con, "The Best Four Days in Gaming," took place this past weekend.  I am writing this on Friday night so if something truly major happened, like a giant meteor crashing into the entire facility, you will understand why there is no mention of it here while ICv2 prominently covers the subject in other areas.  Still, some things of note:

1.  Really Guys?  Department.   Picture after picture of attendees at Gen Con with looks of joy on their faces as they hold armloads of gaming merchandise they have purchased at Gen Con, merchandise that we won't get into the store for about one to six weeks after the event.  If you can manage to land your merchandise in Indianapolis in time for Gen Con, surely you can work the logistics out to get it into distribution and stores at the same time.   I am certain I can think of 5 or 6 distributors that would be delighted to work with you on this.  As it is, I have already seen four products I will be cutting orders on because my customers for them picked them up at "The Best Four Days in Gaming."

2.  Kudos Where Kudos Are Due Department.  Once again, Wizards of the Coast, Paizo (despite my other complaints about them) and Games Workshop proved why they are industry leaders, making sure that their new releases landed on retailer shelves  at the same time they debuted at Gen Con.  Add to this list Alderac, which not only made sure that stores had its big Gen Con release Mystic Vale in stock at the same time it released at the show, but also allowed retailers to participate in the company's Big Game Night promotion, traditionally a Gen Con activity but now one stores could host as well.

3.  How the Mighty Have Fallen Department.  Saw a post by one of the one-time principals at White Wolf Publishing asking where the Vampire/White Wolf people were meeting at Gen Con.  Before the release of 4th Edition and the subsequent purchase of the company (not that the two are related by any measure, at least not that I know).  White Wolf was the cool company at Gen Con, so cool that one year they didn't even have any product for sale in their booth.  The company's parties for attendees at the convention were THE place to be.  Now, Onyx Path sells a fraction of the amount sold during the 1990s, direct to consumer.

4.  Enochlophobic's Nightmare.  People suffering from enochlophobia (the fear of large crowds) would not have had a pleasant time waiting for the Exhibit Hall to open on Thursday, much less enter it.  I haven't heard any actual numbers but just from looking at photographs of those waiting to get into the hall, I would estimate 2000-3000 people waiting there and, from what I have heard, vendors have seen brisk sales the first two days, with projected attendance of around 61,000.  Author Jean Rabe posted a picture of her new Shadowrun novel showing only two copies left after less than a day and a half of sales.

Looking forward to hearing how the convention went for those that attended, after it's over.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of