Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience Welcome Centre, reproducing the Indiana Convention Centre entrance, which is replicated in full within the event regions

It’s now just a week before GenCon 2020 opens its on-line and virtual doors to gamers. The largest tabletop-game convention in North America by both attendance (almost 70,000 in 2019) and number of events, Gen Con features everything from traditional pen-and-paper games to computer games by way of role-playing games, miniature war games, strategy games, board and card games, to live-action role-play – and more.

Traditionally held over four days in down town Indianapolis, Indiana, where it is focused on the Indiana Convention Centre, Gen Con has – like so many other large scale gatherings – been forced to change tack for 2020, courtesy of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and as I noted in Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, for 2020 Gen Con will be taking place on-line across a number of platforms – and it will also be going virtual with a presence within Second Life.

Called VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience, the Second Life event is being developed by solution provider VRazeTheBar, who are in working closely with Gen Con to ensure the convention is fully and strongly represented in-world.

Given it is both a week since my first report on the event and just a week from opening, event organisers Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world) and Ron Clifton (RCArchitect in-world), respectively VRrazeTheBar’s Creative Director and Technology Lead, allowed me to hop back and see how things are coming along.

We’ve made some minor changes since we last chatted. The Welcome Centre will now be remaining in its own location on Mainland, rather than moving here, and will remain open for folk who are not registered for the event, or who misplace where they are supposed to be. We’ll have guides there to provide assistance to visitors throughout the four days of the event. Second Life users will also be able to visit it for information on registering for the event and then getting to the main event regions.

– Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world), VRazeTheBar

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: the Fantasy games area
Taking place over the four days of Thursday, July 30th through Sunday August 2nd, VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience features a full schedule of activities for gamers and attendees spread across four regions collectively divided into themed areas defined by altitude, with levels on the ground, at 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m.

The latter is devoted to gaming areas, the level split between sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, medieval, and renaissance areas built around a central arrival, greeting area.

We’ll be running the games here. some will be open to whoever wants to play, others will be lead by our Second Life event Games Masters (SLeGMs). When an SLeGM activity is in progress, access will be restricted to the registered players and the GM and Host. When not in use for a specific game, attendees will be free to wander through through and explore – we even have some horse rezzers for those wishing to try their hand at riding in SL!

– Alesia discussing the 1500m level at the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: a table-top game in the Medieval area

Meanwhile, at the 500m level, is a reproduction of down town Indianapolis, a place where those who regularly attend Gen Con in the physical world can feel at home, relax and generally socialise. The build includes a reproductions of the convention centre that is the focal-point for the physical world event, and the Union Station, where social activities take place.

To help people get in the mood for the main event, the VRazeTheBar will be hosting a pre-convention dance for registered attendees on Friday, July 24th, between 17:00 and 19:00 SLT. It will take place in the Union Station building in-world,  and fancy dress is encouraged with prizes for the best costume / best look. The event will also be live streamed as a part of GenCon Online’s pre-event activities.

Getting around so large an environment could be confusing for those unfamiliar with Second Life, so the VRazeTheBar team have utilised Second Life Experience keys to establish easy, HUD-based teleporting. Arrivals within the regions will receive an invite to join the experience and receive the HUD, which will be auto-removed when they leave / log-off, as per any other experience, and replaced automatically on their return.

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: a part of the Sci-Fi area (the “Inara Pyramid”! – no, nothing to do with me, rather part of a link to the TV series Firefly

As I noted last time around, attendance at the event requires registration through the Gen Con website – and this includes Second Life users. Registration is mostly free, although there is a nominal US $2.00 fee for some special events, mandated as a part of Gen Con Online’s registration requirements. Whilst visiting VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience, attendees will have the opportunity of picking up an in-world Gen Con tee shirt, a backpack and other goodies.

I’ll have a further update on things, including details of the opening event and the special guest who will be attending ahead of the opening next week. In the meantime, once again my thanks to Alesia and Ron for their time and attention.

However, if you’d like to learn more before then, tune-in to Lab Gab at 11:00am SLT on Friday, July 24rh, when Strawberry Linden will be chatting to Alesia and Ron – read more here. Or, if you prefer, hop over the the Welcome Centre!

Links and SLurl

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