Gen Con is important. We live in a world where there's a convention popping up in every other hotel, but Gen Con was founded in the 1960s, when cons for nerds were still an incredible rarity. Not only that, one of Gen Con's founders was Gary Gygax, the guy who created Dungeons & Dragons. The show has been in Indianapolis for the last decade, and wherever it's held it's a foundational element of modern nerdery, with a focus on all things game-related. It's one of the biggest fan conventions in North America. Last year it brought $50 million to Indianapolis, so it's an economic mover and shaker.
All of this is to establish that Gen Con is a big deal. And that when Gen Con threatens to pull out of Indiana for political reasons, it's a big deal.
What are the reasons? Well, you may have not been keeping up with what the politicians in the Gay Oppression Party have been up to, but the governor of Indiana has on his desk a bill that is being called the 'religious freedom' bill - a law that would allow Indiana businesses to refuse service to same sex couples. Yes, Indiana wants to make it legal to turn away gays from restaurants, apartments, retail, you name it.
Yes, it is 2015. Yes, this is a real thing that's happening.
But good on Gen Con, who have a contract through 2020 at the convention center (which just added a shit ton of new space to better accomodate the convention) for putting their foot down. In a letter to the governor Gen Con's CEO Adrian Swartout said:
"Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.
"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy."
Any laws that seek to discriminate against a group are inherently in violation of the spirit of being a nerd; they're the exact opposite of the progressive ideals that inherently exist in the imaginative arts. As the world of nerds becomes more mainstream and bro-y (while also, thankfully diversifying - it's a weird moment in nerd history) it's vital that big voices like Gen Con stand up and speak out for inclusion and equality.
Good for Gen Con, and fuck you, Indiana legisalture for passing this oppressive, repressive hate law.