Monday, June 16, 2014

Back From Origins

Last night we returned home from Origins. For those of you not "in the know" ;)  Origins is a large game convention. The games you might find there range from LARP, to RPG, to miniatures, to war games and many others. But, primarily they are tabletop games and I would guess that most are board games. This is the third large convention I have been to and so far it has been my favorite. The balance between commerce and game play feels right to me. I like the size — it's large enough to attract some major vendors but small enough to have some personal interaction with many.

I have yet to attend a game convention where I do not have some sort of research agenda. I'm guessing that this will ever be the case and I sort of like that. It began simple enough at last year's Origins — I just wanted to go, get a feel for the design community, make some connections and ask some questions. Since then I have attended numerous events — for each I have been a little more focused on research. So, this past weekend at Origins, the research began to feel even more real. I brought with me a handful of researchy type questions, a recording device, a list of designers I wanted to talk to and my lovely assistant gamer-Vic. Together we were able to arrange and conduct eleven interviews with some wonderful designers!!!

Surprisingly the same set of questions generated interviews ranging from under 8 to over 45 minutes in length. We were able to include designers of many different types of games. It was delightful — so much hard work, so much fun, so many great people. Many of my personal thoughts were echoed in the words of those we interviewed — that was encouraging. But, probably my greatest enjoyment in these interviews was when a designer would say something surprising. And with board game designers this happens a lot — strange analogies, unusual metaphors, startling insights and weird phraseology.

We were also able to play a couple of prototypes and several games from the "Board Room" library. The research is ever present in my mind even when sitting down for a game from the library. This might seem like turning play into work but honestly I really dig it. I was able to pull a few games off the library shelf that I had been wanting to look at. One in particular, I wasn't sure it would be what I thought, seemed like it was designed with my research in mind. I picked up a copy of it at the show and hope to have a few plays with it this week.

So, very likely I will move forward with this set of questions in hand and seek out more willing subjects to interview at Protospiel and GenCon. I hope to see you there!


  1. I look forward to hearing more about the results of your research.

    I really want to go to Origins some year. If only it were as convenient as Gen Con.

    1. "results" is such a strong word... not sure I can live up to that. Would you settle for some strange and incoherent observations?

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