GenCon D&D Breakdown

Last night, the GenCon event list was posted.  Now, it’s listed as “Alpha” and there are many notes that it is subject to change over the next week.  So the data I’m looking at is fairly incomplete.  However, that said, I find the following statistics interesting:

System Number of Games
Basic Fantasy 1
Castles & Crusades 4
Labyrinth Lord 2
OD&D 1
AD&D (1st Ed.) 19
Pathfinder (D&D 3.5 variant by Paizo) 143
Other D&D 3e or 3.5 120
D&D 4e 48

From this data, you can see the OSR is barely represented.  I tend not to think of the AD&D 1e games as part of the OSR, though maybe some of them are.  But since I’ve seen AD&D 1e games on the GenCon docket since I started going back in ’93, I suspect many of these games are run by guys who either don’t know about or don’t care about the OSR.  They’ve always played AD&D 1e, and always will.  That leaves just 8 games that can really be counted as OSR games.

Also by these numbers, 4th edition really isn’t doing very well.  Of those 48 games, 28 are part of a series called “D&D for Cash”.  I couldn’t find much description about it, except that it sounds like some kind of tournament, and that each slot is only 1 hour long.  It’s hard to call that a real RPG session, but if you discount all those games then you’re only left with 20 full on 4e games.  Compared to the 143 Pathfinder games, and the 120 other 3/3.5 games, it seems most new-school D&D players are sticking with the previous edition.

Notably missing is any kind of organized games by WotC.  Is there no living campaign for 4e, or some RPGA equivalent?  Is the RPGA even still around?  Perhaps these events are simply delayed, and that’s one of the updates the list will eventually see.  Back in the day (by which I mean, 2 years ago), the RPGA games almost out-numbered all the other D&D games combined.  Though that position seems to have been taken over by True Dungeon, of which there are 597 games in the schedule, and they’re officially opening up those games for sale 2 hours earlier than everything else in an attempt to gate the bandwidth spike.

Anyway, as I said the data is incomplete and drawing any kind of real conclusion from these numbers is probably foolhardy.  However, I found it interesting as I cruised through the game list.  I really expected to see more 4e games.  I’m not sure if I’m pleased or not by the result.  On the one hand, I’m not interested in playing 4e, on the other, clearly the kind of games I am interested in are not enough to sustain GenCon.  I need all those 4e players (or perhaps now it’s all those True Dungeon players) to keep this event running, so I can continue to enjoy my little corner of it.

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