Boardgames in the News: Convention Season

Broadly speaking, June to November is boardgame convention season.  These vary wildly in size, style and location.  Some conventions, like Gen Con, are primarily meetings for people who like playing games, while others are limited access trade fairs, like the SpielwarenMesse.  Similarly, some conventions, like BGG.Con, are focused on boardgames whereas the PAX series, include miniatures, comics and other Geek fayre.  A bit like the film world where the Oscars are later in the year and earlier events tend to give a preview, the biggest boardgame conventions are in the second half of the year.

Essen 2014
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor Sjeng

In fact, the Euro-boardgame calendar is largely constructed around the German market, with the main even held in October, the Internationale Spieltage in Essen.  This is a massive games fair and held in the industrial heartland of Germany and showcases everything from children’s games to the latest Euro-game.  Many (or even most) manufacturers release their games at one of the big conventions like Essen, which is nicely in time for the Christmas market.  Of course this only really catches the most hard-core of gamers as these freshest releases don’t make it in to the wider conciousness.  However, they are perfectly timed for the next major landmark, the Spiel des Jahres.  Games that make it into the nomination and recommendation lists or better still, win an award, are then perfectly placed for a new print run with the “Red Pöppel” on the cover, with plenty of time for Christmas advertising and a second outing at Essen.

Gen Con
– Image from

One of the largest conventions, Gen Con has just concluded.  The name Gen Con is derived from “Geneva Conventions” reflecting both its original location on the bank of Lake Geneva and it’s war gaming heritage, though it is now held in Indianapolis and includes games of all types.  It will be quickly followed by PAX in Seattle in a few days time. PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo, is actually series of gaming festivals held in Seattle, Boston, Melbourne and San Antonio, run by the authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic.  These are shows exclusively developed for gamers and include everything from speeches from industry insiders, to tabletop game tournaments.  One of the defining features of every PAX is the Omegathon which is a festival long tournament consisting of a group of randomly selected attendees competing for a grand prize.

UK Games Expo Logo
– Image from

Although some of these big events may be half a world away and therefore totally inaccessible without a small fortune, there are a lots of more local events that are easier to get to and often offer excellent value for money.  These vary from smaller local game days (like the Oxford Meeples “Big DoG” events) to large country-wide conventions (like the UK Games Expo held annually in Birmingham).

– Image of unknown origin
Selected Local, National and International Conventions
Convention  Location Month
OxCon Oxford, UK January
LeiriaCon Leiria, Portugal January
SpielwarenMesse Nürnburg, Germany February
UK Games Expo Birmingham, UK June
Origins Columbus, Ohio, USA
Gen Con Indianapolis, Indiana, USA August
Penny Arcade Expo – PAX  Seattle, Washington, USA  August
Internationale Spieltage  Essen, Germany  October
BGG.Con  Dallas, Texas, USA  November