For the first time, I attended the annual Gen Con 2014 convention which is America’s largest “table top” focused convention (with more than 60,000 attendees every year). “The best 4 days in gaming” is the slogan, and it certainly lives up to the hype. The halls are flooded with people all gathered together to celebrate gaming culture in all its forms.
It’s not just board games. It is also the larger “table top” community, which includes Role Playing Games (like Dungeons & Dragons and Shadowrun) as well as miniature games (such as Warhammer and War Machine). There is even a costume parade, where people dress up as their favorite characters. Other notable events are “Card Halla” a life size kingdom of towers built entirely out of playing cards. That is then crushed by objects dropped by con attendees from the floor above.
I spent most of my time in the exhibit hall, playing Blue Orange Games with our community of fans in the Family Pavilion. I got to see many of the friends that I have made at New York Toy Fair and Origins Game Fair earlier this year. I also got to meet several internationally acclaimed game designers, Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, and Charles Chevallier — all of whom have games coming out for Blue Orange next year. Of course many know that Bruno Cathala already released 2 games for us this year (Niya and Longhorn).
I had the pleasure to meet several of the lovely people from our community of reviewers, that prior to Gen Con I had only communicated with on the internet.
Sandy Zimmerman and her 2 “geeklings” from Adventures With My Geeklings. Always nice to meet our biggest fans, especially when they are 2 lil’ gamer cuties! Their favorite games from the con? Our giant version of Pengoloo and our new 2014 game Aztack. You can check out more of their experience on their blog here.
Forrest Bower is the eccentric YouTube reviewer who helped build up hype for our wildly popular game BraveRats. It was great to meet him, as he is one of my favorite voices in the community. His passion for games shines through all of his videos, and he and his family are huge supporters of our games! He was kind enough to do several videos with me of our new games. You can check them out here: Doodle Quest, Longhorn and Niya.
I got to meet Dan (The Game Boy Geek) and Zee Garcia, both from the illustrious Dice Tower network of reviewers, who for many gamers are THE go to source for information on our games.
I had the chance to hang out with my friends in the Dice Hate Me / Geek Allstar collective after hours. They are a rowdy bunch of gamers mostly based in the North Carolina area who have a passion for innovative game design and clean-playing games with dirty tactics. Their podcasts are a great way to keep in touch with the pulse of the gaming scene and their “the state of games” podcast is in my opinion the best on air. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to see what the “cool kids” of board games were playing at the con.
My favorite game of the con, was the Korean smash hit “Coconuts” (distributed in America by Mayday Games). One of the purest fun experiences I’ve had in a while. And since the con, I have played it dozens of times. In Coconuts, players try to shoot rubber coconut pellets into big plastic cups, using adorable plastic spring-loaded monkeys. Pure, simple, chaotic fun.
The highlight of the show for me was getting to meet game inventor Charles Chevallier. He taught me how to play his new game Wakanda, coming out for Blue Orange in 2015. He also graciously lost a game to me which means I got the joy of beating a man at his own game! Of course I had to capture the moment of triumph:
Gen Con was also an opportunity for me to play with prototypes from designers (some of whom were friends I made at other cons, other of whom were new). I brought back many great ideas that we will be testing out with our community of family testers in the months to come.