GREENFIELD — Their entire summer has been building up to it.
From collecting fantasy trading cards to putting finishing touches on their costumes, twins Benjamin and Andrew Ott were pumped this week to head to GenCon, joining thousands of other gaming enthusiasts from around the globe.
The 22-year-old Greenfield residents say the convention – one of the largest of the year in Indianapolis – is a place to have fun and let their inner nerds out.
“If you walk down the street in a costume, people are going to laugh and point and make fun,” said Benjamin Ott. “But at GenCon, nobody laughs at you. They want to stop you and take your picture.”
GenCon launches today at the Indiana Convention Center. It is expected to draw up to 50,000 visitors who will play games of all sorts, from video to card to board games.
The brothers, who both work in security, will be dressed as Star Fox and Falco, characters from the video game, “Star Fox 64.” Video game fans-turned card collectors-turned board gamers, the Otts say Gen Con is the best place to spend time on their growing hobbies and meet others with the same interests.
They’re not alone. Several local residents were looking forward to the convention to try new games and meet characters from Batman to the Ghostbusters. More than 49,000 people from all 50 states and 32 different countries attended the event last year, rolling dice and slapping down cards in thousands of gaming events.
“My brothers talk about it for months and months,” said Joshua Ott, 24, who was convinced to attend the convention for the first time.
But instead of sewing finishing touches on a costume this week, Joshua was beefing up a backpack – making it sturdier to hold games and freebies he was hoping to get at the convention.
At Hometown Comics in Greenfield, several gamers were talking up the convention – though not everybody had the spare change to make it this year. It’s $50 to attend one day of the convention, or $80 for a four-day pass. And while some of the games are free, others require an additional fee.
But it’s worth it, said Derek Deputy, an Indianapolis resident who regularly comes to the Greenfield store to play games.
“They have stuff that hasn’t even been released yet,” he said.
Store owner Don Hull makes the convention an annual retreat for his family. While he works at other game conventions, Hull will be attending this year’s GenCon with his teenage daughters as three characters from “My Little Pony.”
“It’s evolved a lot into encompassing a lot of pop culture,” Hull said.
Cosplay, or costume play, is one of the most colorful aspects of GenCon. Pulling out their hand-made Star Fox and Falco costumes, the Ott twins say their garb isn’t perfect, but they get a lot of satisfaction out of sewing, gluing and tying the costumes together themselves.
“It’s actually a woman’s jacket, but it does the trick,” Andrew said, hauling a Falco costume from a box in his closet. “The mask and feathers I made; everything else is just Goodwill stuff.”
There are more than 14,000 events at GenCon, from free-to-play games to tournaments with prizes. There are seminars, activities for children, crafts, concerts, and a five-acre exhibit hall for shopping.
The Otts have their hearts set on an expansion pack for “Dominion,” one of their favorite deck-building card games. They can rattle off all eight expansions off the tops of their heads; which one they’ll get this year is still up for debate.
“I really enjoy the board games and deck-builder games because of the interaction,” Benjamin said, adding that while they started off as video gamers, they now prefer board games. “You make a lot more friends. Sure, you can play Xbox Live, and you’ll meet a friend, but you won’t meet him in person.”
This is the Otts’ fourth convention, and while they’ve gone in costume before, this is the first year they’ll enter the costume contest.
“You build up self-esteem if you walk around in a costume and let your inner nerd out. Nobody’s going to criticize you and judge you,” Benjamin said. “GenCon is one of those things where, you know, you can just be yourself.”