Our hobby connects millions people based on their love of gaming. Playing a board game is a great way to spend some time, and the fact that each year we see record growth means more and more people are getting bit by the gaming bug. International Tabletop Day (ITTD) was started in 2013 by Geek and Sundry and Wil Wheaton’s TableTop series as a day to celebrate the love of gaming around the world.
This year, ITTD falls on Saturday, April 29. FLGSs, board game cafes, gaming groups, and families around the world will be getting together to roll some dice, compete, cooperate, and really just indulge in this amazing hobby of ours! For today’s CMON Feature Friday, we decided to talk to a few different people about their plans for one of the most exciting days of the year (at least if you’re a board game fan).
Andy Matthews is the founder of the Meeple Mountain blog. He’s been gaming all his life with his family, but his love of the hobby really took off in the last decade.
“I played games all the time as a kid with my parents. Risk, Rummy, Stratego, but then fell out of it in high school and early adulthood. It wasn't until about 10 or 11 years ago that someone introduced me to this game called Ticket to Ride and I was captivated. Around the same time, I read an article in Wired magazine that was talking about board gaming and it cemented my desire to dig deeper. Then, a little more than 2 years ago, I started running a board game night at work and the idea just took off. That was the seed of Nashville Game Night, and it's been growing ever since.”
Meeple Mountain runs the Nashville Game Night, which sees an average of 60 participants every month. Last year, they ran an event for ITTD that welcomed over 150 people to participate in gaming events throughout the day. This year, they’ve set their sites even higher.
“Meeple Mountain is organizing and hosting Nashville Tabletop Day at the Downtown Nashville public library. This event is sold out, with 400 potential attendees, 5,000 sq. ft. of space, 18 sponsors, and over $11,000 in prizes, giveaways, and play-to-win games.”
Matthews sees the importance of building the community to help keep the hobby strong and growing.
“Board gaming is a billion dollar a year industry, but one that still largely exists at the fringes of society. I want to help lead gaming into full acceptance and enjoyment. Its all about the lost art of the face to face community,” Mathews said. “Board gaming is inherently a social activity. Coming together to laugh, and challenge ourselves intellectually, or even just to be silly, is a great way to bring people together.”
One of the leading places for introducing people to the board gaming hobby are board game cafes. Mandy Jelsma is a Manger of and runs the social media for Snakes & Lattes in Toronto.
“Any event that brings attention to the hobby is a good thing,” said Jelsma. “Watching Tabletop episodes on Geek & Sundry is what got me interested in the hobby and led me to Snakes & Lattes.”
Although she’s definitely seen board gaming evolve in her four years in the industry, she still sees exposure as being the best path to introducing new people into the fold.
“Tabletop Day is another way to draw focus on the hobby for people who just consider it the games they played as kids, not realizing how much it’s grown.”
Jelsma notes that one of the best parts of working at Snakes, is that, on any given night, she might see groups of college kids, or a table of older folks rediscovering the love of games, or parents introducing their kids to a classic. She’s also excited to see a lot more women getting into gaming.
“It’s really cool to see a group of teenage girls diving into a worker placement game or deep Euro, without any fear or apprehension.”
Jelsma sees the connections that board gaming provides as being the real benefit of getting into it.
“You actually get face time with the people you’re playing with. It helps you bond with your friends and family, since most of us spend so much time on our phones these days,” Jelsma said. “You’re just having a lot of fun while being tricked into learning a bit.”
Snakes & Lattes will be holding a number of events throught the day on ITTD, as well as hosing their regular Saturday crowds.
Kylie Prymus runs one of the oldest FLGSs in the United States, Games Unlimited. It has been serving customers in Pittsburgh since 1978.
“Our strength is the passion and knowledge base of our employees,” said Prymus. “Our unofficial motto is: We match people with games.”
As with every year, Games Unlimited is gearing up for a big ITTD.
“We’ll have promos for over 75 different games available for free. The juiciest ones get snapped up first, and they’re the reason people line up as much as two hours before the store opens.”
They’ll also be raffling off free games, holding mini-tournaments, and having a big sale on almost everything in the store.
“ITTD is important because it gives a sense of legitimacy to the hobby,” said Prymus. “When I tell people about the thousands of events scheduled worldwide for ITTD, they’re excited and awestruck to know that there are so many people who share the love of gaming and that so many publishers and stores have come together to celebrate.”
Prymus sees teaching games to people new to the hobby or non-gamers as the best way to see it grow. He mentions the key is to find the right game for the people you’re playing with.
“Giving people an enjoyable gaming experience, which means catering to their desires rather than your own, can quickly show them the benefits of the hobby and turn them into lifelong gamers.”
Earlier this week, we asked you what your plans are for ITTD. While some of you are working, most of you are going to be gaming the day away. ITTD is a day that allows people to come together over their love of a hobby and share it with the people in their lives. Whatever you end up playing on Saturday, we hope the dice are in your favor!