Boxed Culture: Con-stant Influx

It has not been a slow week in board gaming. With Essen just finishing up and us getting into the holiday season, there has been so much news lately that I could choose what to cover. However, I was looking back through all the Boxed Culture articles I have written and I noticed I have never talked about all the big conventions. Conventions are where we get previews and first releases for games. They are the places we go to see what is upcoming through the pipeline from all our favorite game manufacturers. They are also places we go to enjoy a solid weekend of gaming with our amazing community. Today I would like to review a few of the big conventions and give a brief over view of what the best and worst parts of them are. Note: I have not been to any of the convention I will talk about today, but this is me trying to consolidate information about the conventions. Also I will not be covering San Diego/New York Comic Con or any of the PAX’s here.


Gen Con

Started: 1968

Typical Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

2015 Attendance: 61423 people

Gen Con is one of the largest table top conventions in American. It not only has board gaming but RPG’s, miniature games, and much more. Many of the board game community who frequent Gen Con do so because it is the place you go to get the newest of the new releases. Games like Warhammer 40k Conquest, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Dead of Winter all made their debut at Gen Con. Suffice it to say the vendor hall is huge. With companies showing off new games, running tournaments and selling games it is quite a busy place. There are also lots of events, panels, and games to play at Gen Con. For the most part it is a convention people go to to get new games and network, so for you first timers make sure you are ready for a crowd! Many people who cannot attend this convention have started attending Gen Can’t. Which was created by people who were not able to attend Gen Con. Gen Can’t participants are people who are unable to attend Gen Con, so they spend their whole weekend gaming at the same time as Gen Con. 


Essen (SPIEL)

Started: Could not Find

Typical Location: Essen, Germany

2014 Attendance: 158,000 people

Named after the city in which this worldwide convention takes places, Essen is the biggest table top gaming trade fair open to consumers in the world. Many board game pod-casters and reviewers have started going in the last few years. They go to interact with board gaming in other cultures and get access to the releases from foreign companies. This is where we got our first taste of Spyfall, Terra Mystica, and Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I do not know much more about this convention informational about it is incredibly hard to find, so feel free to add more int he comments! 



Started: 1975

Typical Location: Columbus, Ohio

2013 Attendance: 15, 938

I like to look at Origins as a small convention with a heart of gold. Not many release happen at Origins but there is so much gaming happening. This is a board gamer’s gaming convention. This is where people go to play, visit and party. At less than 1/3 the attendance of Gen Con, Origins is relatively small. However, it is the convention of choice for people who love playing. If i were to choose a first convention I would go to Origins. The stories that come out of this place (namely by The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast) are crazy haha.


GAMA Trade Show

Started: Sometime After 1982

Typical Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

2015 Attendance: 15,000 people

GAMA Trade Show is a convention exclusive for publishers, distributors, and retailers. Recently they have opened up the show to some press, Tom Vasel being ask for the first time last year. It is a wonderful convention that will help those individuals who go learn more about the games they sell and how to sell them. Do not expect to ever get in if you are a consumer though as it is tough to get in most times even for press.

Honorable Mentions:

Board Game Geek Con

Started: 2005

Typical Location: Dallas, Texas

2014 Attendance: 10768 people

Dice Tower Con

Started: 2012 

Typical Location: Orlando, Florida

Attendance: 1000-ish badges

CMON (Cool Mini or Not Expo)

Started: 2014

Typical Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Attendance: Unknown

I know these are not all of the conventions that are big but these are the ones I personally hear about the most. Please feel free to leave a comment about any other conventions you like or want to talk about! See you next week!


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