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Gen Con 2023 drops COVID-19 vaccine requirement and mask mandate for tabletop RPG convention

Tabletop’s largest US convention relaxes health and safety precautions despite ongoing pandemic.

Attendees on the show floor of tabletop convention Gen Con Indy 2022
Image credit: Gen Con

Gen Con’s 2023 tabletop convention, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, will not require attendees nor exhibitors to wear masks and provide proof of COVID-19 vaccines.

The organisation behind the longrunning convention released a statement earlier this month announcing the registration dates and badge prices for its 2023 convention, but tucked below was confirmation that Gen Con would drop the health and safety precautions it had previously upheld for its event in 2022.

“The health and safety of Gen Con participants remains a top priority for convention organizers. Gen Con will continue to monitor the guidance of the Marion County Department of Public Health and the CDC regarding appropriate safety measures as the convention date nears,” the press release on the organisation’s website reads.

“As of January 2023, Gen Con will not require proof of vaccination or masks at the 2023 convention. While continuously monitoring the situation, organizers will reserve the right to change this policy if conditions warrant at any time, including up to the start date of the convention.”

Matt and Wheels were on hand (and foot) for Gen Con 2022 and its spate of baord game first looks.Watch on YouTube

This change is part of a disappointing but unsurprising trend wherein events, businesses and public-facing companies defer to the guidelines of their city, region or state as a shield against criticism. Gen Con’s acquiescence to Marion County will likely be particularly grating given their website stopped publishing COVID-19 situation reports in July of last year, and their health and safety guidelines were last updated in February 2022.

“We get a lot of feedback from stakeholders — exhibitors, GMs, attendees — and as of now the majority want us to maintain our policies,” Gen Con president David Hoppe said two months before 2022's exhibition. “It may feel like a hassle to always be masked while walking around the exhibit hall, but please consider the vendors, event organizers, demoers, and other good folks who put in long days — many on a volunteer basis — interacting with a steady stream of attendees, fans, and fellow gamers. Many of our stakeholders have medical or life complications that increase their risk. We mask up for them.”

Like most other tabletop conventions throughout the world, Gen Con seems content to long longer “mask up for them” and leave the decision to put one’s health and safety at risk a matter of individual choice. Increased research on Long Covid, a suite of post-infection symptoms such as chronic fatigue, brain fog, sleep problems and heart palpitations show that even minor cases can have potentially long standing effects on one’s health.

Dicebreaker has reached out to Gen Con for comment on this decisions and will update this piece accordingly. More information on Gen Con 2023 and its safety procedures, which might still change prior to its August 3rd through 6th event.

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