If you're a gamer or sci-fi enthusiast, GnomeCon's got you covered with three days of demos, panels, costumes and, of course, gnomes.

Philip Schweier - who added GnomeCon to Savannah's events calendar in 2012 along with his wife, Heidi - gave DO the scoop about this year's bigger and better event.

How did the idea for GnomeCon first come about?

Philip Schweier: "My wife, Heidi, got the ball rolling. She and I have been going to similar events for several years, and have hosted all-day gaming events at our home, and she has participated in charity gaming events at Morningstar Games here in Savannah. She decided she wanted to launch something locally, so she put together a brain trust of various people with the valuable skills, who shared her enthusiasm, and - boom! - GnomeCon was born."

How will year two be different?

Schweier: "This year we are expanding the scope of GnomeCon by including animé (Japanese animation) and an art show. We will also be located in the heart of downtown Savannah."

What surprised you and what did you learn from year one?

Schweier: "The response was far more enthusiastic than we expected, which told us clearly there is an audience in the Savannah area for this type of event.

"We got a lot of support from local merchants, game companies and individuals that all contributed to our success."

How does your Con compare to the others out there?

Schweier: "There are other events that are similar in size or content, but our main goal is that the people who come to GnomeCon have fun - whether it's the opportunity to learn a new game, meet new people or participate in one of our panels or other events."

Why should people make the trip to Savannah for this event?

Schweier: "GnomeCon is an event unlike any other in the Coastal Empire.

"We have many dealers from all over the Southeast, a flea market, panels, game demos and an art show.

"GnomeCon welcomes all geeks to come out and play your favorite game, learn a new one, meet a game designer or author, buy that hard-to-find collectible, test your geek trivia with Professor Fear or just support a worthy cause."

What can those who come to GnomeCon expect?

Schweier: "Fun, in a very family-friendly environment.

"It doesn't matter what your age or background might be, or your interest or experience level at gaming. There is a chair for you at any of our tables.

"I encourage parents to bring their kids (or kids bring their parents) and maybe find a great means of building those family bonds that is perhaps a little more interactive than a family movie night.

"And if you are a gaming 'widow,' we have other events to entertain you, such as our panels on game design, or Professor Fear's Trivia Game Show or the Odd Lot Improv Group."

Explain Geek the Library, one of the charities the funds support.

Schweier: "Public libraries have a national campaign: 'I geek...' because everyone has a special interest, whether it's bugs or motorcycles or Hollywood.

"We all have our passions and the library is the perfect tool to fuel those passions. Since GnomeCon's mission statement is to promote literacy and education, there isn't a better community cause for us to support."

Why do you think geeks are cool?

Schweier: "We are individuals. While we may share interests, or in some cases cross-pollinate with other interests, such as comic books or computers or video games.

"We're hardly rebels, but few of us are afraid to declare our interest in 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Star Trek' or whatever. And almost always, we're pretty accepting of other people's passions, as well."

What games are you excited to check out?

Schweier: "I'm looking forward to playing a NASCAR game hosted by Richard Launius. He has customized the game with large NASCAR race cars and track, and is designed to accommodate up to 16 people. The race starts off hot, with jockeying for position, dangerous passes and sometimes ends in a pile-up."

How has the reception from the Savannah community been?

Schweier: "Very supportive. We're getting a lot of participation from the community at large, from game donations, contributions to our silent auction and groups, businesses and individuals volunteering their time and talents."


What: GnomeCon

When: April 19-21

Where: The Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St., Savannah, GA 31401

Cost: $40/three days, $20/single day Friday or Saturday, $10/Sunday

Contact: gnomecon.org