1 August 2019 | 13 Comments
Typically I would write a blog post about Gen Con, the largest tabletop game convention in the US, after the convention (like this one from 2018). But for the first time in 7 years, I’m not there.
Why? Well, it’s an experiment. Some of you longtime readers have encouraged me to delegate more, so instead of attending the convention this year, I’m experimenting with full delegation to Meeplesource and a Stonemaier volunteer team to plan and run a big booth with lots of demo tables. Instead of spending 150+ hours of my time planning and attending the convention, other people are doing it for me. Stonemaier Games is still involved financially, but not nearly at the level of the last few years.
How’s it going? Great! I never particularly enjoyed planning for Gen Con, so it’s been wonderful to have people like Cynthia and Derian do it instead. And while I’ve enjoyed aspects of the convention (particularly the people), as an introvert I’m greatly enjoying working alone in my home office.
What are we missing out on? Not much, particularly since Meeplesource is selling our products and volunteers are showing people what those products are. The main sacrifice is face time with a variety of people (media, partners, volunteers, fans, and designers). While face time is better than connecting virtually, I’m at peace with it given my everpresent availability on social media.
Don’t we miss the atmosphere? Gen Con, admittedly, is a haven for tabletop games. There’s so much to see and do, and the excitement is palpable. It’s also a good way to put your finger on the pulse of the industry. However, I’m working constantly at Gen Con. There’s no time for me to walk around and soak in the atmosphere (and if I did, it would be far more cost- and time-effective to simply follow the convention on social media, which I’m doing).
Do people care that I’m not there? A lot of people attend Gen Con, and 99.99% of people don’t care that I’m not there. I have gotten a number of messages from people over the last few weeks asking if I’ll be there, and I appreciate the interest in my attendance.
What are we doing instead? Well, one of the perks I’ve discovered is that Stonemaier-related communications (private and public) has been very quiet this week. The eyes of the industry are on Gen Con. So I’ve had lots of time for design and creative work this week, which is great.
How does it impact our release schedule? Over the past few years, I’ve felt the pressure to have something shiny and new to show off at Gen Con. I totally respect companies who do that, just as we’ve done in the past. But I don’t want to work around someone else’s schedule. I generally want to spread out our releases and launch them when they’re ready, not rush a product (production, shipping, or otherwise) just to have it ready for a small group of people in Indianapolis by early August. While I’m sure Meeplesource wouldn’t have minded having a new product, I think they’ll do just fine with our other 2019 releases (Wingspan, the Euphoria expansion, and the Scythe modular board).
Why not announce Codename: Clay during Gen Con? It’s no secret that there is a new Stonemaier game in the works. Many companies use Gen Con to announce new products. That’s fun, but it also means it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle–it’s hard to stand out when everyone’s talking. So I’m waiting until after Gen Con (August 7) to announce the name of the new game, the theme, designer, and box art, followed by daily design diaries detailing exactly what the game is. If you’re curious, you can sign up for our enewsletter here.
Will we do this again next year? I don’t know–we’ll see! It’s just an experiment, so I’ll talk with Meeplesource after the convention to see what they think.
In the off-chance you’re reading this while at Gen Con, I highly recommend stopping by the Meeplesource/Stonemaier booth. Several of our designers are there, including Elizabeth (Wingspan), Hoby (My Little Scythe), and Ryan (The Rise of Fenris). Natalia, the lead artist for Wingspan, will also be at the booth on Saturday.
In your industry, have you every skipped a major convention? How did it go? What do you think about our decision not to attend Gen Con this year?
If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on his blog each year, please consider championing this content!