It appears to me, by casual observance, that the presence of old school gaming is on the rise in the convention scene. Back in August I had to search for old school games at GenCon, and while there were enough to fill my schedule, if I hadn’t pre-registered and carefully planned I probably would have been out of luck. The old school games that were run were scattered about the convention in random corners of various ballrooms. Old School was at GenCon, but you really had to look for it to find it. Dead Games Society probably had the biggest presence, in fact enough that they’ve now qualified as a Premier Group at GenCon, with their own section in the GenCon forums. Given how on the ball these guys seem, I’ll likely run my games under their banner next year.
Looking at smaller local cons, I’ve recently discovered that in addition to GaryCon, there are actually a couple other old school focused conventions sprouting up, including the North Texas RPG Con and more recently Fal-Con in CT. Unfortunately GaryCon and NTRPGCon are both too far for me to get to, and while I really wanted to go to Fal-Con, it was just too soon after my return from England to make it happen. Still, three conventions dedicated to purely old school is pretty good.
The next convention I will attend is TotalCon, right here in my home state of MA. Based on my experience at GenCon, I posted to their forums to find out who besides me and Frank Mentzer (who attends every year) would be running old school stuff and if we couldn’t request the convention organizers to put our games near each other. The response has been pretty strong. Not only are there a lot more old schoolers running stuff this year, but apparently Frank is being joined by Tim Kask in the list of old school luminaries in attendance. The organizers have promised us a dedicated space, and even added “Old School RPG” as an official event category to the registration system.
I know all this is probably anecdotal, but it certainly feels to me like the OSR is starting to penetrate the convention scene more and more. I’m very curious to see what next year’s GenCon will be like.