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What's the best convention near the Midwest, USA if I just want to play games?


So…I’ve been to GenCon a few times, but I think I might want to try something different. I think I’d like BGGCon, but I can’t really afford to travel to Texas.

Any suggestions?


Origins and Geekway to the West are supposed to be good cons for playing games (as opposed to shopping, although you can do that there too).


As a denizen of Midwest, USA I find the term “Midwest, USA” wildly vague.

I, for example, am about an 8-10 hour drive from Dallas, Chicago, and Denver and about 3-4 hours from St Louis. That said, I’ve never traveled for a gaming convention so I have almost zero perspective on how to answer your question.

Given the chance to go to any US gaming convention, I think I’d first choose PAX Unplugged with Origins as a second and BGGCon as a third. But, again… I’ve never been to any of those so take from that what you will.


A bit more info: I’m a bit west of Chicago.

I’ve heard Origins is good. Maybe I’ll check that one out.


Origins, 100% Origins is where you want to head to.


Is the size of the convention important to you? There are many local conventions of 100ish people that are all about playing games instead of commerce and spectacle. A friend of mine organizes Gaming Hoopla which is very close to you.

Grand Rapids, MI has GrandCon which is an excellent midsize convention and would probably be close enough for you.


I suppose size matters. Small wouldn’t be bad, but 100 people seems a bit too small.

I checked the dates on origins. That falls over the following family events.

  • My brother’s birthday
  • My mother-in-law’s birthday
  • My sister-in-law’s birthday
  • My son’s birthday
  • My nephew’s birthday
  • My anniversary
  • My parent’s anniversary

So…I need another convention :slight_smile: I’ll check out the other smaller ones that were mentioned.


I haven’t been to any other conventions, but if you want to look outside the U.S. and visit Toronto, I go to Breakout Con every year and I quite like it. I don’t think it’s as big as origins (haven’t been, so not sure), but it’s definitely quite large. Picture roughly the same size as SHUX I think. It’s very much about playing games, both board games and RPGs. I just looked, and round trip Porter Airlines flights between Toronto and Chicago on that weekend are $230 US Dollars, flights are about an hour each way, and they fly into Toronto’s smaller airport, which is on an island in the harbour right next to the city centre. Or it’s about a 7.5 hour drive. The convention is $37.68 USD for the whole weekend.

Edit: I just looked at pictures or Origins. It’s a very different vibe. Breakout Con is much closer to the vibe of SHUX with a lot less emphasis on vendors.


There’s a dedicated gaming con in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) called Con of the North:

Mid-February. I think they get a few hundred people these days. I haven’t been to it in years because they moved from downtown St. Paul (which is trivial for me to get to) to a suburban hotel (which was a pain but doable) to someplace way the fuck outside Minneapolis (which…I’d have to get a room, and I’m not paying for a hotel room to go to a con in my own fucking metro).