Gen Con in Second Life: let the games begin!

The Indiana Convention Centre reproduced in Second Life as a part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience

Thursday, July 30th saw the opening of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience presented by VRazeTheBar, a four-day in-world event packed with activities being run as a part of Gen Con Online 2020 – and there is still time for Second Life gamers interested in table-top, computer, role-play and other games to sign-up and join in.

I’ve previously covered Gen Con and the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience in these pages, starting with Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, but in brief:

  • Gen Con is the largest tabletop-game convention in North America, by both attendance and number of events. In 2019, almost 70,000 people attended the event, held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Gen Con has moved its activities on-line for 2020 across a range of platforms.
  • So that attendees can enjoy some of the same atmosphere of gathering together, attending social events, participating in games, etc., solution provider VRazeTheBar, with the support of Linden Lab, has created a 4-region, multi-level event environment within Second Life: the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience.
Discover the history of Gen Con in the Gen Con Museum within VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience
Gen Con is a very special experience, that’s what keeps people coming back. It was important for us to recreate, as much as possible, the magic that happens when 70,000 gamers take over down-town Indianapolis every year. So, we have built some of their favourite haunts, including Union Station, around the Convention Centre as a starting point that Gen Con veterans will immediately recognize. From there we take off and have created completely new virtual worlds where the imagination can soar.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Creative Director Alesia Clardy (AlesiaPM in Second Life)

A table-top game within the Science Fiction gaming zone of VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience
In VRazeTheBar’s virtual Gen Con experience, users will find many of the details that fans love: food trucks and the traditional Saturday night dance as well as a free official Gen Con virtual t-shirt. But more than anything else, it’s really about the games. The game masters have embraced the virtual platform to make some awesomely rich, detailed environments for interactive game play.

VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience Press Release

The event kicked-off at 09:00 SLT on Thursday, July 30th, and will run through until Sunday, August 2nd – the same dates as Gen Con Online 2020, allowing Gen Con regulars to attend events both in-world and those Gen Con is hosting on other on-line platforms. The opening event featured Patch Linden, Linden Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations as a special guest to not Linden Lab’s assistance in making the event possible.

The activities planned for Gen Con in Second Life as are as varied as those found at the convention in the physical world, and to help attendees feel more at home, part of the event space features a recreation of down-town Indianapolis, where the Indiana Convention Centre, the focal point for Gen Con in the physical world, has been recreated, together with the Union Station, used for social gathering – as it will be in-world, and locations such as Georgia Street, with its lines of food wagons and street restaurants frequented by attendees.

Patch Linden And RCArchitect (VRazeTheBar’s Ron Clifton) at the opening event

The four levels for the event are:

  • Ground level: presentation area and historical.
  • 500m: modern / present day down-town Indianapolis.
  • 1000m: apocalyptic level – the ruins of down-town Indianapolis for Zombie hunting.
  • 1500m: game play environments.
We are hosting a large variety of table-top games and we also are offering periods where people can roam around on their own or with friends, to explore on foot, horseback, or flying. We even have virtual dragon rides. In addition, we will also have some live presentations and panel discussions with industry gaming experts.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Creative Director Alesia Clardy (AlesiaPM in Second Life)

A full list of in-world activities can be found on the event website. In addition, for those registered for Gen Can who cannot get in-world, events at the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience will be live streamed courtesy of event partner isiLive.

As I’ve previously noted in covering VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience (see Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life) gaming activities will taken place across a 4-region group of settings located at 1,500m above ground level and feature a mix of table-top, role-play and other gaming activities.

If you’d like to join Gen Con in Second Life – and there is still room in a number of the events – registration is free. You’ll need to do so via the official Gen Con website. As I noted in my Sneak Peek article, access to the game areas will be controlled to prevent them becoming overloaded, but otherwise attendees are free to wander, sign-up for activities and even organise their own on-the-fly games.

Gen Con Online is very much an experiment for Gen Con – as shifting to on-line mediums is proving to be for a lot of events around the world. However, for VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience it is something more: a proof of concept that virtual world spaces can be used as a part of a physical world event’s activities. As a proof-of-concept, there have been a couple of minor hiccups – sadly, Gen Con exhibitors have been unable to join the in-world event this year, but otherwise everything is ready to receive attendees.

It was important for us to have a stable reliable on-line platform to create this virtual Gen Con experience. This year is basically a small-scale proof-of-concept experience, but the Linden Lab infrastructure we have chosen will allow us to scale up quickly as demand unfolds.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Solution Architect, Ron Clifton

Georgia Street and the Convention Centre in-world

To find out more about about VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience and Gen Con Online, please follow the links below. And when you get in-world, don’t forget to accept the event experience and receive / obtain the teleport HUD for direct access to the various in-world regions (there are also bicycle, horse and dragon ride rezzers available on the different levels (bikes on down town level, horses on the gaming level, dragons awaiting discovery!). You can also find out more by visiting the links below – including the in-world public Welcome Centre for the event.

Related Links and SLurl Information

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

Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”

The VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience pre-event Welcome Centre

Gen Con is the largest tabletop-game convention in North America, by both attendance and number of events. Covering 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, live-action role-play and more.

Founded in 1968 as the “Lake Geneva Wargames Convention”, since 2003 Gen Con has taken place annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, where in 2019 it attracted almost 70,000 attendees.  However, as with a lot of physical world events, Gen Con in 2020 has been hit by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; but rather than being abandoned, the event is switching to offering itself on-line through a number of services and platforms – and as a part of this, solution provider VRazeTheBar is creating a special venue in Second Life.

Courtesy of Gen Con OnLine

VRazeTheBar is an organisation dedicated to providing virtual experiences to complement both physical world events and other on-line activities, including conferences, seminars, conventions and trade shows. They have partnered with Gen Con to provide a multi-region environment within Second Life that will offer those wishing to capture the atmosphere of the convention the opportunity to do so virtually, through VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience.

Taking place alongside the rest of Gen Con Online over the four days of Thursday, July 30th through Sunday August 2nd, VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience features four regions in Second Life that will host a full schedule of activities for gamers and attendees, which might be summarised as:

  • Tabletop Role Playing sessions run by experienced in-world game masters.
  • Panel and group discussions – such as the Game Designers Fireside Chat, featuring game designers and experts in the field.
  • In-world game creation sessions and tournaments.
  • Open gaming sessions that you and your friends can explore and discover new experiences.
  • Social events and activities – such as the Virtual Dragon Riding Rave, featuring a live mix DJ playing fantasy and sci-fi based electronic dance music.
  • A chance to meet the creators and designers of the virtual world.
The VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience pre-event Welcome Centre

To help make full use of the available space, the event’s regions have been collectively divided into themed areas defined by altitude:

  • Ground level (Sierra level): presentation area and historical.
  • 500m (Lima level): modern / present day – down-town Indianapolis.
  • 1000m (Echo level): apocalyptic.
  • 1500m (Golf level): game play environments.
We’re building this over four private regions; [it’s] fairly small scale … But it allows us to do things well in terms of performance and offering an awesome social experience, which are important to us. So is the idea of recreating, as closely as possible, the actual venues that gamers feel comfortable as familiar hang-outs and social spaces when spending time in-world.

– Ron Clifton (RCArchitect in-world), VRazeTheBar’s Technology Lead

Each level will have specific features and attractions. For example, the ground level will include the main landing point and Welcome Centre. As the first location those attending the event will encounter, this serves a number of purposes:

Courtesy of VRazeTheBar
  • It provides general information on the event itself, such as the schedule of activities.
  • For those who are not familiar with Second Life, it provides basic tutorial on using the viewer to move, communicate, and sit (and which is supported by additional introductory info on the VRazeTheBar website), together with general information on SL.
  • For those unfamiliar with table-top gaming in Second Life, it provides simple introductory games visitors can play to understand the essentials – such as using a game HUD.

Above this, on the Lima level is a photo-realistic reproduction of down-town Indianapolis that features the venues that host Gen Con in the physical world, intended to give gamers familiar with those venues a sense of recognition and comfort in where they are in-world.

Attendance at the event is largely 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) – however, attendees must all register via the Gen Con website.

We’re really excited to have this opportunity with Gen Con. It’s very much a proof of concept to show what we can do in Second Life to recreate some of the Gen Con social experience.

– Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world), VRRazeTheBar’s Creative Director

I’ll be covering more on the event over the course of the next couple of weeks in the run-up to doors opening, including some sneak peeks at the various event levels and what they’ll be offering.

In the meantime, Second Life users interested in finding out more about VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience can do so by dropping into the pre-event Welcome Centre currently open on the Mainland. This will remain available to visitors through until the event kicks-off on July 30th, and as well as providing the introductory information outlined above, this version of the Welcome Centre also provides details on how to register for the event and offers links to join the in-world group where updates and information can also be obtained.

My thanks to Ron and Alesia at VRazeTheBar for their time in the preparation of this article.

Links and SLurl