Disclaimer: The above information is correct at the time of writing, and may be subject to change in the current COVID-19 climate.
Gamers have come a long way
Many of us grew up with Atari, sitting on the floor of the family room, amazed at the blocky graphics that just seemed so real back then. Imagination is indeed a powerful thing.
We graduated to Nintendo and Sega while making birthday cards with Printshop on our Apple IIc computers. Playing outside was still what we did when we finished our homework, but video games were becoming our favorite pastime.
A good number among us were of the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation generation. Even though the hyper-polygonal graphics and overuse of 3D rotating cameras made for some unnecessarily challenging gameplay, the technology was still mind-opening, a harbinger of what was to come.
And video games mean big money. The global gaming industry raked in $180bn in 2020. Some figures show the video game industry as more lucrative than the movie and sports industries combined.
Conventions that started with a few thousand dedicated fans have grown into four-day affairs
The money, combined with the popularity of gaming culture, has given rise to video game conventions, particularly in the past decade. Conventions that started with a few thousand dedicated fans have grown into four-day affairs welcoming hundreds of thousands of guests and hundreds of video game companies. Nerd flags fly proudly as people of all ages get together to celebrate everything there is to love about video games.
Video game conventions of international acclaim
The above is our curated list of the top ten video game conventions of 2021. Attendance numbers are an inexact science, either because convention organizers don’t release them or because having multiple locations means inconsistent numbers.
What we have listed are the most recent numbers available, none later than 2019, since all the live conventions got canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are scores of conventions all over the world, big and small, some likely a short drive from where you live. And lots of other massive conventions, like Dragon Con in Atlanta, have great video game areas and features but are not specifically dedicated to video games, so we did not put them on our list.
scores of conventions all over the world, big and small, some likely a short drive from where you live
Those of you who are in tune with the video game industry might notice two omissions: E3 and BlizzCon. E3 2021 took place in mid-June before we published this list, so we opted to leave it out. BlizzCon, like the other conventions, had to take 2020 off because of the pandemic. Blizzard held BlizzConline, an internet-only event, in February 2021 and decided not to have a live BlizzCon this year.
As things can always change, especially with the ongoing pandemic, be sure to check the conventions’ websites for up-to-date information, particularly for those that have multiple locations.