By Elaine Walker
A summary of a summary really since a short version of the history of the convention is available in the 2011 GenghisCon Program, but I shall summarise some of the history, flesh out some other bits and talk a bit about my own impressions as a regular GenghisCon attendee.
GenghisCon (and this is the Perth, Western Australia based small gaming and sf convention, not the event in the USA) had its origin in 2001 as a bunch of university students who liked the idea of conventions, but found that the ones currently available, due to the expenses of hotels and guests, had membership and accommodation costs out of their reach.
And so with the aid of one member of the SwanCon community who had been there near the beginning and remembered how it was when it was small, and his henchpersons (Mark Bivens and Nik Macdougall) a working party was convened by Danielle Linder to come up with ideas and hatch a plan for a small, affordable convention that was still fun. (See the program for the entire list of suspects).
After a fair amount of brainstorming the name GenghisCon emerged as a play on words of course on Genghis Khan, the great Mongolian general who took over a large portion of the world in his day. From there it gathered momentum and with Robyn Creagh designing the first logo, Grant Stone being approached to be the Patron Saint (he said yes!) things moved forward.
The focus of GenghisCon has always been on affordable fun, so it has stayed away from the hotels with high room costs (and that’s just the panel rooms) and stayed in smaller areas, frequently associated with Universities. For its first year it ran at the Noalimba Centre in Bateman in 2002, then for 2003 and 2004 at St Catherine’s College (in Nedlands across from UWA), and GC4-9 were at the Trinity Convention Centre also in Nedlands across from UWA. GC10-11 were at St George’s College (Nedlands) due to Trinity undergoing renovation among other things, but this year for 2013 GenghisCon 12 is back at Trinity.
Amazingly enough after all this time the cost of the membership is still the original $25 for the weekend. There is usually also a range of accommodation available, from very basic student rooms (with shared bathrooms) up to motel style rooms for those who need it (and who are quick enough). Usually breakfast is included in this. While it is possible to commute to the convention and some do, there are usually rules about non-residents on the grounds in the later hours and if you want to get that last game in, staying on the site is your best bet.
There is usually a BBQ on Saturday night (one might say bribery to get people to attend the AGM, but whatever works). Often there is pizza on the Friday night. There is also free tea/coffee since it was after all started by students (feel free to BYO mug), and usually also munchies of various types for purchasing at not massively inflated prices. (This can often be paid for by minion dollars earned by helping out around the convention).
The convention tends not to have guests as such, though often local writers or creative type people in the field who happen to be in town may attend. This also keeps costs down. The focus is on interactive pursuits so there is usually only one, sometimes two panel streams on speculative fiction and associated things, and a lot of organised gaming. Of various sorts, including, but not restricted to, board games, video games, role playing games (RPGs), live action role playing games (LARPs), and various rock band/guitar hero type games. There are some things organised specifically, but also usually times and locations set aside for people to play whatever board and card games they feel like. Finding people willing to teach you that game you’ve been interested in is usually not hard.
There are often workshops, whether in making nerf type weaponry for LARPs or crafts with a speculative fiction link.
My introduction to GenghisCon was being drafted as a panelist for GC1 at Noalimba, but I was there more or less for the panel and not for the weekend. I think I didn’t make it to GC2 at all, but I did go to GC3 and have been to every one since. I find it usually a relaxing weekend, with a chance to do a good amount of gaming, and attend the odd panel (and even been on one or two) in the Perth Summer (so far it has been held in January, fairly close to the Australia Day public holiday).
GenghisCon 2013 – Braving New Worlds is shortly going to be held at the Trinity Residential College, January 11-13, and if you wish to join us, feel free to have a look at the website and contact the committee (you can try rocking up on the day but due to the smaller venues it has been known for the maximum number of people allowed to be reached). It is unlikely at this point however that you would be able to obtain accommodation on site but there is parking there and public transport nearby.