Game Conventions and You

By Eugene Shenderov

Hello everyone! Last weekend, I went to Geekway to the West, a board gaming convention in St. Louis, and I thought I would share my experience with all of you lovely readers.

Game Con!
Game Con!

Geekway is a (relatively small convention, with 1,300 visitors this year. They are growing year to year, and initiated a few things this year that will keep me coming back as a game designer.

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The first of these is Jay Little’s talks on game design. There were two 2 hour long talks by Jay on the subject, using slides he uses to teach game design courses. There was also a Q&A with Zev of Z-man Games, where he talked about starting his publishing house and his experience in the board game industry.

Both Jay and Zev gave valuable insights into the board game industry fro the side of the designer and publisher, respectively. As people with a great deal of experience in the field, they were great choices as speaker and invited guest. As an aside, I learned that the first Geekway was held 11 years ago in Jay Little’s basement.

I also met Jamey Stegmaier in person, and can confirm that he is just as nice in life as he is on the ‘net. He explained the rules for his game in playtesting, Scythe, which had amazing artwork from a Polish artist who inspired the creation of this game. And the art is indeed gorgeous.

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Then there were the wonderful people of St. Louis. Gamers, nerds, strategists, passionate fans of different genres as far as the eye can see. You could take most of the gamers there and have a ‘coolest t-shirt contest’ and not have a winner. Everyone was warm and welcoming, and were receptive to gaming with people they did not know. I came as a stranger, but left as a friend.

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Then, of course, there were the games. A full gaming library (including a copy of Ogre, which I played,) Play to Win games, such as Dead of Winter and Roll for the Galaxy, and a large vendor area downstairs. 200 games were given away to 1,300 attendees, which gave a pretty good chance to all convention goers! And the meeple market and indie game vendors downstairs catered to those with more cash than luck 🙂

The last point was the ‘reason’ for my attendance, the 2015 BGG (OMG) microgame competition. 15 games were shown off to a large group of playtesters. Almost all the players enjoyed it massively, and those that did not had useful and kind things to say. Though I had to run off before winners were announced, I got the most important result: player feedback, which is necessary for a quality game. (We didn’t win, a well made gangster card game called Smoking Gun did.) The camaraderie between designers was also great to see.

Events like these are a great way for gamers, designers and publishers to rub elbows and get to know each other. Even for small indie developers, I recommend investing in these cons; it will build contacts that will serve you for years or decades to come. This one is smaller than GenCon or Origins, but it is a great environment for talking to people face to face without the huge crowd of a larger convention. Though I do wish for them to grow, for their sake 😉

This was a great experience for me as a game designer and a gamer. The convention was useful to me professionally, and was also a blast! I am definitely coming again next year. Good job and thanks to everyone at Geekway, see you in a year! 🙂

Hi! I am Eugene Shenderov, and I am a game designer. You can find my website at Send me a message if you have any questions!

Have a great day!


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