Last weekend saw a small army of gamers march into Dallas for the 2010 Board Game Geek Convention. It’s an amazing gathering every year and just like the last times I’ve been, it’s pretty much more fun than you should be allowed to have.
In order to make more space for gaming, the guys at BGG.com have scaled back on the amount of vendor space that they allocate for the show. Sadly, this meant that we weren’t able to attend this year as an official vendor, but I still went as an attendee and even managed to get in some actual work while I was there. (DISCLAIMER: Being a game designer means that my work still involved playing games, but since it was playtesting it really is work. It still counts, I promise.)
BGGCon is different from a lot of the other conventions we attend because it really is focused more on playing games rather than browsing booths or seeing the latest new products. There are vendors there who will demonstrate their newest goodies and sell you some games, but most of BGGCon is about grabbing a game out of the library, finding an open table and having a good time with your friends and strangers who become friends.
Friday – Let the Games Begin!
Officially, the convention began on Wednesday, but I wasn’t able to be there for the entire con. I arrived at the convention early Friday afternoon and within 10 minutes I had bumped into some friends of mine and we were already sitting down to learn a new game. That’s just what happens here. The other thing that’s fun about this convention is that while it’s pretty big, (right around 1000 or so attendees) it’s small enough that you’ll start recognizing people by the end of the convention. Then if you come back next year, you’ll get to know even more people. It really does get to be a big gathering of friends after a while and that’s pretty special.
This Convention was also special for us because Castle Panic had been nominated for a Golden Geek Award this year. Originally we thought we were only up for the Best Children’s Game category, but it turns out, we were also nominated as Best Family Game. The award is given based on votes by users on the BoardGameGeek.com site. To have made the cut as one of the best is really amazing for us, since this community really knows games and has very high standards. The winners were going to be announced on Saturday, so we crossed our fingers and I moved on for some playtesting.
I brought a playtest copy of our newest game to BGGCon and was lucky enough to find some very helpful gamers that were willing to give up some of their precious convention time to play our game and give us feedback. Our thanks go out to all of you who helped make our game better.
We’ll be making an official announcement about the game next month, so stay tuned and see what we do next.
I also brought along a prototype of an upcoming dice game I’m working on, and even managed to get in some sessions with that game, but that’s another story for another time. ;) In between playtest sessions, I did manage to squeeze in a few other games and as with every year, the hardest thing about BGGCon is deciding what game to pull out of the ridiculously full library.
Saturday – You Mean There’s More Than Just Games?
Saturday starts off with the Flea Market. It’s basically where a few folks bring games from their collections to sell cheap and every attendee at the convention squeezes into a couple of small rooms and proceeds to blow right through their spending limit. It’s great. You can find $5 games and $100 lost classics and it’s all about haggling for the best price and then showing off what you got afterwards. I picked up a few much needed classics and a handful of other games I’ve needed to add to my collection. It really is the most dangerous hour of the convention for your wallet…
For me, Saturday was a great day for playtesting and getting in the occasional side game, but the convention really explodes on Saturday. Aside from the already mentioned Flea Market, there’s a Poker Tournament, Puzzle Hunt, Game Show and Rock Band Competition. It really is more of a “fun” convention than just a “game” convention.
Later that night it was time for the big giveaways and the announcement of the Golden Geek winners. My ticket stubs yielded no treasure for the drawings and sadly, we didn’t win either of our Golden Geek categories. We’re still honored to have been nominated and our congratulations go out to the winners. We’re hoping to be back up on that list soon for future games.
Sunday – I’m No Good at Goodbyes
So it’s Sunday and everyone is pretty worn out from 4 days of nonstop gaming. Saturday usually turns into the craziest night with everyone staying up way too late, and it shows the next day. I got in another couple of good playtests and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone and hit the road. Austin is a long drive home.
All in all it was a great time. The convention went off without a hitch and it was really good to see old friends and get feedback on our new stuff. As for other people’s games, several new games from Essen were getting a lot of buzz as well as some unknowns. 7 Wonders, Alien Frontiers, London and Dominant Species were getting talked about a lot, but sadly I didn’t get to play any of them. My favorite would probably be Pony Express, even though it wasn’t on any big lists, it was a darn good time.
I can’t say enough about Aldie, Derk, Jeff and the whole BoardGameGeek.com crew. Every year these guys work really hard to put this thing together and every year it gets a little better. Nice work guys, I can’t wait until next year.