Tis the Season for Chicagoland Gaming Events
This fall, I have participated in many different gaming events around the Chicago area. Some were charity related and others were just good marketing/networking. Each event was in a different location but some days/times over lapped. Rather then write a post about each event I decided to write and overview of each event.
Here are just a few events that have taken place this Fall with some thoughts and takeaways:
October 17 to October 20
If you’ve ever attended a Protospiel the one in Madison is basically the same. The only differences were the parking isn’t free, the food selection was better, and the hall was much larger. This Protospiel seemed to attract way more people then other Protospiels I’d been to. This meant more people to playtest games with! I also got to meet a few people I’ve only met online in the board game Facebook groups. I got all 5 games I brought playtested at least once which made the cost more then worth it! I also love Madison, it’s a beautiful city and close to Chicago. I enjoyed this Protospiel the most out of the ones I’ve been to, but my fiancé still loves the Indy location. As a non-game designer, she thought this one was a bit intimidating due to the size.
24-Hour Gaming Marathon for Extra Life
November 2 to November 3
This was a fundraising event that all the proceeds went to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The Gaming Goat held the 24-hour event in the basement of their store. Participants showed up, donated some money and played games that were in the game library. They had a few snacks, prize drawings and scheduled gaming events. I took my fiancé Jessa and my friend’s Hailey and Tommy. We played some classics like Tsuro, Dixit and Splendor to kick off the 24-hour marathon. On the way out of the event I got a chance to talk with the host of the event which was great. We enjoyed the gaming part of the event and the fact that it was for charity. I just felt bad that they didn’t seem to hit their goal by the end of the event. There needed to be more pre-marketing and having it in DeKalb may have prevented some people from attending. Location is key for events like this! Members of my different gaming groups either didn’t know about the event or were unwilling to travel to DeKalb. Hopefully next year they will raise more money!
They also promoted their Online Charity Auction Fundraiser that was through their Facebook. This online auction lasted all week and people just needed to comment on the images of the games they wanted to win. I participated all week-long poking people to try and bring bids up. There were over 100 donated games for the fundraiser which was amazing. Next year I plan on donating a few games to be auctioned off from DMR Creative Group. I would also love to participate in any events they have next year. I might even try and have one of my games be apart of the events they hold.
International Games Day
Hosted by the Chicago Public Library at Chicago Public Library
Every year the Chicago Public Library holds an International Game Day event. This year I was too late to have a booth but I was able to attend as a guest. I spoke with companies like Cards Against Humanities and XYZ Game Labs who attend this event every year. They all agreed that with each year the library has added fun new additions and more people have come to check it out.
This year they had:
Game related movies like “Game Night” and “Jumanji” in their theater
Video games and VR games
A toy section
A tabletop and card game section
It was impressive how many different companies came to play games with the families that were attending. The best part about this event was the price. It was free! This made it so much more accessible to large families. I enjoyed talking to friends running their booths as well as connecting with some new people like Mary Couzin, the founder of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. Had I not met her there I would have never been at their fair, awards show, speed pitching or conferences. This was a great event for networking and if you had a booth space it was an amazing marketing opportunity for your company and games. I will be contacting them next year about getting a space for DMR Creative Group.
A few local gaming companies partnered with Cards Against Humanities and Empirical Brewery to put on a prototyping event in Chicago. Companies including mine each had a prototype game that we needed playtested. The brewery played each of these games and created a new beer to pair with the game. At the event playtesters would drink the beer while playing the game then write their feedback on some surveys they were given. This event was perfect for rapid playtests on my game Let’s Sort It Out. The game got played by around 50 people in one day and it allowed me to test different parts of the game. The feedback was invaluable. Tickets were only $15 dollars, so it sold out quick.
My only complaint was the organization of the pre-planning for the event. We were all told we’d need to support an 8-person game but then showed up to find two tables that were going to hold nine people in total. All of the companies had to improvise their player counts and possibly push tables together. I tried one massive game then quickly decided to just split my deck and have two tables rather then one big one. I learned to always bring an extra copy of your game just in case. It was a learning experience. Besides moving tables around and needing to split the deck the event went great! I hope to be invited to the next event they host.
Sadly, I was unable to attend this event because it overlapped with the Test Flights event. Two of the companies that participated in the Test Flights event were able to split up their team to make it to two events. The winning game “Canvas” from Road to Infamy was also at the Test Flights event so they had a big night! Next year I plan on attending this event at the Logan Theater. Chicago based designers have gotten some great exposure from the experience. Plus, the winner gets that title/logo to slap onto their game when they get around to producing it. Canvas will be going to Kickstarter sometime in the future and will sporting its newest badge of honor! If you are a local designer, you need to submit a game to this event. They only take a handful of games, but it is 100% worth it. Worst case you just attend and play other great prototype games.
Hosted by Lagunitas
I have been trying to make as many LaGAMEnita events as I can. They are now trying to host them every month on the third Sunday of the month. Companies like DMR Creative Group volunteer to bring games to teach to the public. These games can be published or prototypes. This event was the first Chicagoland event I’d ever gone to. I heard about it through a Meet-Up I was a part of. I playtested Nut Stash there and it was a hit! I’ve been going for about a year now and can not advertise it enough. The best part about the event is it’s a charity! Every drink you buy goes straight to whatever charity they are sponsoring that month. Typically, the funds go to the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, but they are always willing to host other non-profits. I did one event for the NF Network (my part-time job) and it went great! This event is fun to work and attend. I highly suggest checking it out one month. Most of my Chicago contacts came from this event. You will see Cards Against Humanities, Road to Infamy and Neat Games there among others volunteering and playtesting their games.
I’m not sure what was in the water this season but there were so many amazing events going on. I was sad I couldn’t hit them all. One good thing is every event is planning a repeat next year or in the future. So, if you missed out on any of them don’t worry! Chicago is always up to something new and I will be posting it on the DMR Creative Group Facebook page.