Updated: Jun 18, 2019
This was my first time going to Origins in Columbus, OH. The drive wasn’t terrible, without traffic you’re looking at 6 hours from the Chicago area to there. This convention ended up being significantly cheaper then GenCon. I got to stay with my friend Sam who lived 10 minutes away from the Greater Columbus Convention Center and all-day parking only cost $15 dollars! I only paid for Saturday and Sunday (2-day pass) badges which cost me $45 because of the early bird special. I also spent around $60 in gas thanks to my Toyota Corolla. Then there were meals which I made myself, so I didn’t need to go out to eat and waste time in long food lines. The tap water wasn’t bad either, so I kept refilling the same water bottle. All of this totaled to $135 which is basically the price I paid for one night at a hotel for GenCon! So financially Origins was 100% worth visiting.
As for the size, it was big, not too big but there was enough to do to keep me entertained the weekend and probably more days. I spent half of my time in the Unpub room playing my games Nut Stash and Curbside. Nut Stash caught the eye of families and casual gamers. While Curbside interested the tile placing, casual strategy game players. I received great feedback for Curbside from playtesters as well as Publishers I pitched it to.
Jonathan Gilmore of Pandasaurus Games called the game “elegant” and had few suggestions on improving the game. The things he did have were easy adjustments that will take no more then a week to do. Jon was a great guy who knew I had a good game so introduced me to other Publishers that fit my game. Pandasaurus was looking for three specific things but Curbside didn’t fit them and that’s okay. I got practice pitching, honest/helpful feedback, more playtesting in and additional connections. Plus, a rubric for what they are looking for. Which helps me be able to design a game they’d like. The two publishers I was introduced to were Weird Giraffe Games and Kids Table Board Games (KTBG). Both companies specialize in family friendly games. Carla from Weird Giraffe let me pitch on the spot and took my sell sheet, business cards and took a few pictures of the game. KTBG already had two years’ worth of games so wasn’t currently looking.
My other preplanned pitch at Origins was with Dustin Culbertson from Side Room Games which ended up getting cancelled. He had pushed past appointments that went late to replace my time. He asked for a rulebook and I replied and never heard back. I had planned my morning around this pitch, so I had to become more flexible. This was the first time I had been “stood up” for a pitch. In a weird way it ended up helping in the long run because I took that time and made the rounds to collect contact names for other companies that published family/casual games. I stopped by one of my favorite company’s booths and asked if they were excepting sell sheets and the woman said to try back Sunday morning and I might get a chance to pitch to Justin DeWitt of Fireside Games. I came back the next day and did an impromptu pitch that seemed to go great. He said Curbside was in their wheelhouse and appreciated the time I spent researching their company to know it would be a good fit. It may have also helped that I loved his game Hot Shots and owned it.
Besides play testing and pitching I was on the Board Game Geek live stream for Nut Stash and Curbside. I had a video interview with Cara The Blonde Unicorn on Nut Stash’s Kickstarter and met some people I’ve been networking with through Facebook the past few months. I also was a great consumer playing a few newly released games and taking home some copies. I ended up bringing home: Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky, Bubble Tea, Wing It, On Tour, Power Grid, Subatomic and Arraial. Games ranging from roll & writes to a science themed deck builder to a creative story telling party game. A nice variety that I will be writing my thoughts about in future blog posts.
Overall the experience was amazing! I made new friends, connections and found a Con I liked more then GenCon. I will be spending the next week adjusting my games, contact lists and touching base with people I met.
Here were a few of my take-aways for Origins 2019:
Make appointments in advance to pitch your game.
Research a company before you pitch to them.
Be flexible in your schedule.
Packing lunch and dinner is 100% worth it. It saves you money and time.
Always be ready for an impromptu pitch.
Talk to everyone, you never know who could be sitting at the table next to you.
Even if something is booked out still check. In the case of the Unpub room, the time slots were all booked but everyone didn’t show up or left early so I got to take advantage of it.
If everything is booked out create your own prototype corner to play with other designers and con goers.
Play a few published games and walk the floor. It’s good to know what’s already out there.
Get rest, it’s not worth risking your health for an extra game of Catan.
Research the Con before you go so you know where things are located to manage your time appropriately.
If a pitch doesn’t go well it’s okay, take the feedback and practice to make your next one better.
If there’s a game you want to buy ask and see if they think they will sell out. If they will, buy it then to not miss out. If they won’t, wait until Sunday to buy it. Many companies mark down prices on the last day, so they don’t have to carry as many games back with them.
Anyone who enjoys playing games should check out this Convention. It’s not too packed but still has almost all the main publishers. It’s great for designers, hobby gamers and the average Joe who occasionally likes a game night.