The Gen Con Drama Deepens

This morning, I wake up to find that the fine folks at ICv2.com have done some excellent digging around about the Gen Con takeover bid. First, they eliminated the most likely suspects for the mysterious backers of the Gen Con Acquisition Group. It’s not GAMA, and it’s not F & W Publications.

Then they learned the truth—or at least part of it. The GAG (as ICv2 names them) is led by my friend Anthony Gallela. Earlier this year, Anthony left his position as the executive director of GAMA to become the VP of sales and marketing for Bucephalus Games. Because of his experience running Origins, he’d be an excellent choice to run a revamped Gen Con.

However, I’m still not happy about this. In the interview with ICv2.com, Anthony says, “I think Peter is right for Hidden City Games, but I don’t think he’s right for Gen Con. I would have to assume he feels the same, since he hasn’t been involved with running the show for two years.”

This is a lousy assumption, and I believe Anthony knows this and is playing to the investors and creditors in the gallery. Just because Peter might not be daily involved with running Gen Con doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about it or have a huge influence on it. At the very least (and it would be a huge stretch to believe this is the limit of Peter’s involvement), he hires the people (like the excellent Adrian Swartout) to run the show for him, much in the same way that GAMA hired Anthony to run Origins and the GAMA Trade Show—and also in the way that the GAG’s still-unnamed group of “outside the industry” investors would apparently wish to hire Anthony.

As Anthony also points out, this is a hostile takeover bid. Peter and Adrian (who Anthony specifically praises, in contrast to his comments on Peter) are not for it. They were just about to file their bankruptcy plan—which they believe can succeed—when this offer came in. That’s not likely to help engender loyalty in any retained staff or in the huge core of volunteers who help make Gen Con happen every year.

The part that worries me the most is the fact that investors “outside of the industry” may not have the best interests of the industry at heart. I have absolutely no doubt that Anthony does, but he’d be an employee, not a majority owner. Such investors would be in it only for the money, and if Anthony can’t give them a decent return as fast as they want it, they’ll either fire him—and possibly a huge chunk of the rest of the staff—or sell the company off once again.

I really am torn about this. It’s like watching your friends fight over who gets to host Christmas. There’ll be a party either way, but it’s likely to be served with a platter of recriminations.

No matter what happens, though, I’m going to Gen Con next summer. Even if some catastrophe strikes and the show is suspended for the year—which, let me stress, I cannot believe would happen—I’ll still be in Indianapolis that weekend. Even if no one wants me in any booth or to help out with any seminars, I’ll drive down there to play games and catch up with any friends who care to join me—including, I would hope, both Peter and Anthony.