• Jason

What Gaming Conventions Do

Updated: 5 days ago



Gaming conventions are glorious! You get a chance to cast away your earthly concerns and submerge yourself in a world of meeples & monsters, cosplay & creatures, anarchy & adventure. You’re utterly surrounded by all things nerdy for days. The modern gaming convention is more than just festival & fantasy; it is a force that shapes modern gaming.


“Conventions are Control

A key service — maybe the key service — a convention provides is to isolate you from your regular daily obligations. Not only that, but to make it socially appropriate for you to set those obligations aside for the duration of the con. A convention’s programming is secondary to the freeing permission it bestows.” - Jeff Tidball


For the attendee, gaming conventions can be an oasis of self-care in a life dedicated to taking care of others. Where traditional holidays might be for family, conventions are personal holidays. For gaming industry folks, the mega events dictate the timeline for title releases and projects. While the attendees are doing Xmas in July, the elves of the industry wants to be sure all the toys are available to gamers both naughty and nice.


Board games, typically, have two short windows of visibility in consumer consciousness - 6 weeks around their Kickstarter and another 6 weeks around retail release. Publishers match up the “beats” of their communication and their release schedule to enhance or extend these windows. A GenCon release can give an explosive start to a title’s retail release then setting up the game up as the “it” game for the traditional holiday season.


Obviously convention sales are nice, but it is the excitement of the attendees bringing games back to their friends and teaching others which starts the success train rolling. Additionally, for crowdfunding, publishers preview titles to both their fans and media to build expectation and enthusiasm. One of the most exciting things about Sovranti, from a publisher standpoint, is how it enhances and extends a titles visibility to consumers. A premium, quality, rules enforced demo gives folks another opportunity to embrace a title. In the future, we’d like there to be a third visibility window for a game: crowdfunding, digital release, and retail release.


Behind the scenes of the mega events, the game industry people connect with each other. Publishers also have their own community. Folks group up before, after and during vending hours. Publishers meet with designers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Comradery is built over coffee, breakfast, dinner and beer. Everyone helps each other and tries to get better at what they do. Conventions provide the impetus for this gathering and improving.


With attendance in the tens of thousands, cities very much care to keep and recruit gaming conventions. It brings massive amounts of tourist dollars in for the weekend. The limitation then becoming if you have enough hotel space to fit them all (see GenCon hotel lottery.) Cities are transformed for the event - traffic is redirected, city blocks are reserved for LARPs and professional sports are asked to adjust their calendar. The entire spectacle raises awareness of gaming culture. This in turn creates more opportunity to create new gamers.


But conventions don’t only come in the mega variety, they come in the tiny, and medium variety too. Also, the sub-genre variety where you focus on one type of gaming specific like Adepticon for miniatures wargaming or Gamehole Con for roleplaying. These smaller cons are less about the spectacle and more about the community. Community is our topic for the next blog.

Release Updates


The Isle of Cats

Publisher: The City of Games

Sovranti Developer: Paul


Paul has been very busy working on The Isle of Cats! Game setup is progressing nicely - much easier to read and modify the board.


Things that got done:

  • Tools for cards, tiles, meeples, boards, and their textures/materials

  • Flow structure: keeping in mind the Normal, Family, and Solo modes (Family Mode will be fully developed first)

  • Host options for selecting the mode, randomizing player boards (boats)

  • Selecting boats, and colours

Isle of Cats - Selecting a Tile

Point Salad

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Sovranti Developer: Eric

Point Salad development has gone very well! We’ve transitioned to a more asynchronous way of moving and animating through a turn resulting in a smoother experience.


There is an interesting tradeoff we made to get this to work - not every user will be experiencing the same part of gameplay at the same time. For instance, after someone chooses cards to take for their turn, everyone will animate that card acquisition, followed by animating any vegetable market refill steps, then wait for the next player’s turn. Depending on network speeds and processing power of each user’s device, they may get through all the animations faster or slower than others. The result is a significant speed up of overall gameplay because while one player is still working through the animation of their turn, the next player can actually start selecting their cards.


We’re excited to see how this feels in practice, especially for slower internet connections and devices. And if all goes well, we will strive for this architecture in all games going forward.

Point Salad Scoring Animation


Article Sources:

http://www.jefftidball.com/posts/why-virtual-conventions-fail