The name of this gaming convention comes from the original location of the event: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The first Gen Con was held in 1968 and consisted of a bunch of miniature wargamers hanging around Gary Gygax's house. Apparently a good time was had by all so they decided to do it again next year (just a little bigger...) From the Gygax lawn, Gen Con went on to fill and outgrow:
- 1969-1977 - The Lake Geneva Horticultural Hall, The Playboy Resort, The Lake Geneva American Legion Hall and the church next to it (Lake Geneva, WI)
- 1978-1984 - The University of Wisconsin and The Gateway Technical Institute (Parkside, WI)
- 1985-1997 - The MECCA Convention Center (renamed The Wisconsin Center in 1996) (Milwaukee, WI)
- 1998-2002 - The Midwest Express Center (Milwaukee, WI)
- 2003-Present - The Indiana Convention Center (Indianapolis, IN)
To correct another w/u: Gen Con is no longer owned by Wizards of the Coast or operated by its (defunct) subsidiary Andon Unlimited. Gen Con is now run by a wholly separate LLC of the same name with (ex-WotC) Peter Adkison as the man in charge.
Random interesting trivia: The creation of D&D grew out of a conversation between Gygax and Dave Arneson at Gen Con 1971. The Playboy Bunnies were in full effect in 1977. The Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau claims Gen Con brought $10 million yearly to the local economy during its time in that city.
More information on Gen Con can be had from:
The Gen Con Web Site - http://www.gencon.com/
The Keeper of Ancient Gen Con Lore - http://php.iupui.edu/~wrporter/
Unofficial Gen Con Forums - http://www.tomwaitsfan.com/genconforums/
I attended Gen Con in 2000, 2003 and 2005.