WashingCon is excited to announce that Miranda Evarts, the designer of Gamewright’s Sleeping Queens, will attend WashingCon 2017! Miranda designed the game with her family in 2003 after she came up with the idea for a game where a range of kings help sleeping queens such as the Pancake and Rose Queens wake up. After testing the game with her family and friends, Gamewright published the game in 2005 as its first kid-designed game. In addition to receiving one of the "2006 Best Bet Awards" from the Canadian Toy Testing Council as well as other awards and accolades, Miranda’s game has been profiled in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. Miranda will have a “Meet the Inventor” session where she can sign games from the convention’s attendees. WashingCon would like to thank Miranda for supporting our community and work.
Among companies that sell tabletop games and other products for children and families, few have made the development of kindness and cooperation as important to their mission as Peaceable Kingdom. The company, which was founded over 30 years ago in Berkley, California, has been putting out games such as Friends and Neighbors, Say the Word, and Mole Rats in Space that help children grow personally and emotionally by learning the importance of cooperation and teamwork. As Rachel Sunday, Marketing Manager at Peaceable Kingdom, told us, “we create games and gifts that inspire cooperation and cultivate kindness – because kids that play well together play well in the world.”
In addition to producing great games, Peaceable Kingdom will also be sponsoring WashingCon this year. As Rachel explained, the sponsorship came from the company’s relationship with fellow WashingCon sponsor Labyrinth Games. “We are extremely appreciative of our partnership over the years with Labyrinth,” Rachel said, “when the idea of WashingCon was presented, we immediately hopped on and wanted to be part of the family section!”
WC: For people new to the hobby, can you tell us about the history of Peaceable Kingdom? What drives the company and its designers to make tabletop games for children and families?
RS: We create games and gifts that inspire cooperation and cultivate kindness – because kids that play well together play well in the world. Cooperative games blend playful fun with a chance to learn compassion and practice kindness toward others. Common goals teach kids to work together. Cooperative games enable players to win or lose as a team, which builds resilience and strengthens friendships. Play with heart and soul!
WC: What products will Peaceable Kingdom be releasing this year? Are there any releases you're excited about?
RS: We have a handful of new releases in 2017! We are particularly excited about demoing Mole Rats in Space with the WashingCon crowd! Mole Rats in Space was designed by celebrated game designer Matt Leacock, best known for designing Pandemic and Forbidden Island. Mole Rats in Space is a 7+ games and is Leacock’s first cooperative game for kids. Players work together to help the Mole Rats gather their equipment and make it to their escape pod before time runs out! Climb the ladders, slip down air-shafts, but don't get bitten by the snakes.
WC: Given how important cooperative play is to your company, how do you view the rise of cooperative board games across the entire hobby? What lessons do you think they could take from your own games and design philosophy?
RS: Cooperative games have been popular in the adult world of gaming for some time. However, we do feel that we have found a niche in the children’s gaming world by advocating and providing such games. We embody the cooperative concept as a company all around. We feel that our cooperative games provide a place for children to learn qualities that they can take with them and share with the world as they grow. Among those qualities are listening, communication, teamwork, inclusive play and sharing. It also doesn’t hurt to win or lose as a team, rather than by yourself!
WC: What type of organizations have you supported through your donation program? What's been the most memorable organization that you've supported over the years?
RS: In 2017, we began our partnership with Kids for Peace. Kids for Peace launched the Great Kindness Challenge week over ten years ago and has now spanned to millions of schools and children across the globe. Their mission is to encourage kindness and build kind acts as habits amongst kids in their school setting. Kids are challenged individually and as a whole to complete a Kindness Checklist throughout the week. We believe that kindness can change the world and through our products, kids learn how to listen to each other, use their own voice, and be kind. We are proud to be partners with Kids for Peace and strongly stand behind their goals and mission.
WC: How does the inventor submission process work? What are things that all tabletop game designers can learn from the products that inventors have submitted to you over the years?
RS: We accept inventor submissions via our website! We encourage and accept all submissions. These submissions are reviewed and handled by who we like to call our ‘Game Guru’. We are always looking for new and exciting ways to share cooperative games with the rest of the world!
WashingCon would like to thank Rachel and the rest of the team at Peaceable Kingdom for supporting our work!
WashingCon is excited to announce that Susan McKinley Ross will be attending WashingCon 2017! The founder of Idea Duck!, Susan is best known for developing the award-winning game Quirkle, which has been honored with a Mensa Select Award, a Parents' Choice Gold Award, a Games Magazine Games 100 Award and a Spiel des Jahres Award. In addition to spending time with attendees, Susan will also be participating in events that will form part of WashingCon’s efforts to highlight female game designers at this year’s convention. We want to thank Susan for helping us highlight how important inclusivity is within the tabletop hobby.
What’s in a name? While that question will bring up a range of responses – and stories behind them – from the tabletop game community, the one from North Star Games has special significance for its Co-Founder and President Dominic Crapuchettes. As Luke Warren, Public Relations Director and Head of Specialty Accounts at North Star Explained, the Dominic chose the name after using the North Star to return his boat to safety after losing power while captaining a salmon boat in Alaska. After returning to the dock, Dominic decided to pursue his dream of creating board games.
Since then, North Star Games has taken its inspiration from this experience to produce a range of hobby board games that are accessible to a mainstream audience such as the Evolution series as well as popular party games such as Wits & Wagers and Say Anything. The company became a sponsor of WashingCon through its work with Kathleen Donahue, the owner of Labyrinth Games and a fellow WashingCon co-sponsor. “We are always down at her store demoing games. And as we are a local company, it only made sense to sponsor the local con.”
Read our interview with Luke to learn more about North Star Game’s design philosophy, the development of questions for Wits & Wagers and Say Anything, and the company’s new releases for 2017.
WC: For people new to the hobby, can you tell us about the history of North Star Games? What drives the company and its designers to make tabletop games?
LW: Well, that’s really a great question. Our co-founder Dominic Crapuchettes was the captain of a salmon boat in Alaska (like you might have seen on reality TV, but before watching fishing boats was a form of entertainment) but since he was a kid he had dreamed of making board games. Well, one night while captaining said fishing boat, he lost power, took on water and had to guide the boat home by the North Star, hence the name of the company. He decided since he made it back alive, it was time to start trying to make his dreams a reality.
While in business school he met his future business partner in Satish Pillalamarri; they graduated in 2004 and have been going full blast since then. Dominic, also our head game designer and President, has a drive to bring the deeper game play of hobby games to a mainstream audience. That requires streamlining games so they have as few rules and exceptions as possible. “Find what’s fun, get rid of everything else,” is his philosophy. This philosophy has the added benefit of making hobby games more streamlined as well, so in a way we are bringing mainstream consumers’ need for simplicity to hobby games. The best of both worlds!
WC: What products will North Star release this year? Are there any releases you're excited about?
LW: The biggest release will be a blue Happy Salmon. It has 6 more color of cards so you can play 12 person Happy Salmon games. That is pure craziness right there. I have done it, so I know what I am talking about. Oh, and a sweet expansion to Wits & Wagers, called Vegas Wits & Wagers. More ways to bet on a bigger, cooler Vegas style rubber mat. For all you high rollers!
The second big release is our new, streamlined Evolution - same great game, same great art, just a smaller box, no excess components, and now $40. We have fixed a couple of problems, like the occasional lack of food tokens, and reduced the amount of table space you need for the game. The biggest change is to switch out the food bags for cool food shields that create a 3-D visual experience and makes it look like the animals are coming to the Watering Hole to feed. So it's a more immersive experience as well.
WC: How does the process for selecting user submitted questions for Say Anything and Wits & Wagers work? Are there any memorable questions that came out of this process?
LW: The process has several steps, but basically we put out an All Points Bulletin for submissions, and once we get the questions, we cull out a bunch that just will not work. The remaining lot then gets sent out to volunteers who rate the questions and answers on how fun and interesting they are, since that is always the main consideration behind everything we make. The highest-ranking questions are then playtested, edited, fact checked until we have the best ones.
Memorable questions? Well, the most memorable ones make it into the game! But as far memorable experiences based on these questions, at our big GenCon Wits & Wagers Game Show, we asked the question about how many “favorite things” are mentioned in the song, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music. Decent question, not necessarily memorable. Except that many gaming geeks love musicals, so after the question, we gave everyone one minute to write down all the favorite things, and then to reveal the answer, made everyone sing the song. A room full of 70 people all singing My Favorite Things at the top of their lungs is pretty entertaining.
WC: Can you tell us about the team of artists behind the Evolution series? What inspirations did they draw from to produce the art for these games?
LW: Catherine Hamilton, the artist, knows Dominic from high school. Fortunately she is an international representative for Zeiss, has worked with the Audubon Society, and is a very well respected ornithology artist, doing much of her work in watercolor. So when Dominic approached her to do the art for the game in a realistic, but alternate history kind of way, it was almost second nature to her. That is why the animals in the game seem familiar but are not quite ones that have existed on Earth.
WC: How has working on the digital version of Evolution impacted the design of your tabletop games?
LW: It has definitely helped us to streamline game play even more than we already do, since when playing digital games asynchronously, every little decision point slows the game down. Too many delays while someone who was not the active player has to make a decision on something and the game becomes excruciatingly slow. So now in our table top design we try to cut out those interrupts.
WC: What are you looking forward to WashingCon 2017? What games and events will you be running at this year's con?
LW: It's a super fun show and being local makes it even better. Meeting local game enthusiasts who love our games, or introducing our games to new fans is awesome. We will be running an Evolution tournament, a Wits & Wagers Game Show and a Say Anything ‘after dark’ game. Lastly, a Happy Salmon festival, which if you have not played this 60 seconds of crazy game, WashingCon is the place to do it!
WashingCon would like to thank North Star Games and Luke for supporting our work and community.
As a con based in Washington, DC, WashingCon's community is home to policy and international relations wonks who play and design tabletop games. Among these individuals, we were especially proud to have Jason Matthews attend WashingCon 2 as a presenter at panels and special guest. A former Senate staffer and government relations expert, Jason is best known for co-creating GMT's award-winning game Twilight Struggle, which uses the political and military developments in the Cold War as the backdrop for two-players to compete as the United State or the Soviet Union. Jason has also co-designed other games that have focused on history and politics such as 1989: Dawn of Freedom, 1960: Making of the President, and, most recently, Sola Fide: The Reformation.
In addition to participating on the Future of Game Design Panel, Jason also had an opportunity to sit down for an interview with WashingCon’s resident policy and international relations expert, Cris Ramón. Take a listen below to hear Jason discuss the origins of Twilight Struggle, the manner that he fuses mechanics with history and politics, and his approach to selecting political and the intersection between hobby gaming and military wargaming. WashingCon would like to thank Jason for supporting our work.
We wanted to let our DC-area fans know that WashingCon staff will attend the International Tabletop Day festivities at Labyrinth Games and Puzzles, our sponsor and DC's own FLGS. If you're free on April 29th, stop by Labyrinth to buy WashingCon tickets, talk with WashingCon staff, and participate in the store's events. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for live updates about the day's events. More information about the roster of Labyrinth's events is available here.
As a part of WashingCon's efforts to make our conventions kid- and family-friendly, we invited a range of vendors that offer games that help bring the youngest members of our community into the hobby. One of these vendors was Catlilli Games, which sells educational board games such as Crazy Cats, Cycles, and Tacto that help children grow interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. In Crazy Cats, for instance, children compete to draw the craziest cat based on dice rolls that determine the genes – and their corresponding appearance – for their cats. In short, the game's mechanics supports a child's exploration of complex scientific concepts such as genetics and phenotypes.
Listen to the interview with Jon Nardolilli, co-founder and game designer at Catlilli Games below to hear more about the company's origin, design philosophy, and efforts to help reverse the absence of effective STEM education in the United States. WashingCon would like to thank Jon and the rest of the Catlilli team for serving as vendors at our convention.
One the highlights of WashingCon 2 was the opportunity to host the UnPub Protozone where we gave local game designers a chance to demo and playtest their unpublished games in the Unpub Protozone. Unpub is an organization that aims to help game designers get their games published. Over the last six years, publishers have signed over 100 games shown as Unpub events, including games created by our very own Ben Rosset and Matt Grosso such as between Two Cities, Brew Crafters, and Dead Last.
During WashingCon 2, we had a chance to briefly chat with Darrell Louder, the Director of Unpub and the designer of Compounded and Bottom of the Ninth from Dice Hate Me Games, and Brad Smoley. Listen to the interview below to hear more about the Protozone as well as Unpub’s broader work in giving designers an opportunity to share and demo their games at conventions like WashingCon.
As the WashingCon planning staff will tell you, our convention could not happen without the enthusiasm and help of its community and volunteers. While we encourage our attendees to volunteer at the convention, we recognize that not everyone can attend WashingCon. If you fall in this category, we have a new way you can help us out: distribute our new digital flyers! We have created four flyers that everyone can distribute at their favorite gaming tabletops and online platforms. Tweet us your best photos posing with our flyers @washingcondc and we'll make sure to feature them on this blog in the future.
We are excited to announce that Green Ronin Publishing and Ravensburger Global have signed on as sponsors for WashingCon 2017. Green Ronin, which will be returning as our sponsor, Dragon Age, is known for role-playing games such as Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds. The company has won over 40 awards for excellence, including winning GenCon & EnWorld Award for Best Publisher for three years in a row.
Ravensburgeris a leading supplier of puzzles, games, and craft products in Europe. In addition to sponsoring WashingCon, the company will also put together our swag bags and include a special item for the convention’s attendees. We would like to thank both companies for making WashingCon 2017 the best possible experience for our members!
Recently, a member of WashingCon’s staff was having dinner with friends when they discussed their interest in board games. One of the individuals at dinner mentioned playing a horror game with the word “Hill” in the title that was fun – and extremely unnerving.
As many of our readers know, the game in question is Bruce Glassco’s award-winning Betrayal at House on the Hill, which pits players against a traitor in a haunted house. While Bruce's game has emerged as a definitive classic in the hobby, his interest in tabletop gaming has led him to continue working on new designs such as Mystery! Motive for Murder. Listen below to hear about Bruce's development of Betrayal at House on the Hill, his work as an English professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College, and what inspires him to keep working on game design.
The moment you've been waiting for has arrived: ticket sales for WashingCon 2017 are now live! You can purchase your tickets at www.washingcon.com/badges. As a reminder, individuals who want to volunteer at WashingCon 2017 must purchase tickets for the convention in order to be eligible for a refund, so pick up yours before signing up to help out WashingCon's staff this year.
We wanted to remind everyone that tickets for WashingCon 2017 will go on sale tomorrow, March 1st, on the WashingCon website at 8:00 pm Eastern Time. As a quick reminder, we will be offering:
- Full weekend adult tickets for $40 per person.
- Sunday single-day adult tickets for $25 per person.
- Full weekend kids' tickets (12 and under) for $30.
- Sunday single-day kids' tickets for $15.
We also want to remind everyone that you can reserve hotel rooms at the Georgetown University Hotel at our discounted rate of $119 per night. You can make your reservations here.
If you have any issues with purchasing tickets, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep following us on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter as we release additional details about this year's convention.
WashingCon is excited to announce that Jonathan Gilmour, the designer of Dead of Winter and the upcoming Wasteland Truckers, will join us at WashingCon 2017. Jonathan will meet guests, demo his games, and participate on panels.
We also wanted to let everyone know that attendees can now reserve hotel rooms at the Georgetown University Hotel at our discounted rate of $119 per night. You can make your reservations here. If you have any questions about the hotel rooms, please contact us at email@example.com. Keep following us on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter as we release additional details about this year's convention.
WashingCon is happy to announce details for WashingCon 2017 passes, including information about our Sunday single-day pass. Currently, we will be offering:
- Full weekend adult tickets for $40 per person.
- Sunday single-day adult tickets for $25 per person.
- Full weekend kids' tickets (12 and under) for $30.
- Sunday single-day kids' tickets for $15.
As we noted last week, tickets will go on sale on March 1st. Tickets are limited so people should get tickets soon! We will have a discounted hotel block and those rooms will be available starting soon. Keep following us on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter as we release additional details about this year's convention.
WashingCon is excited to announce that tickets for our 2017 convention will go on sale on Wednesday, March 1st. We will have more details about the convention passes and prices next week, so keep following us on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter as we release additional details about this year's convention.
Over the course of WashingCon 2, convention attendees had a chance to sit in on panels discussing various components of game design. Our first audio recording of these sessions covers a panel titled The Future of Game Design, which featured Rob Daviau (Pandemic: Legacy, Risk: Legacy, Seafall), Bruce Glassco (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Mystery! Motive for Murder), Jason Matthews (Twilight Struggle, 1989: Dawn of Freedom, Sola Fide: The Reformation), and WashingCon co-founder Ben Rosset (Brew Crafters, Between Two Cities).
The panel, which was hosted by the team at Dragon's Demise, focused on the evolution of theme and concepts, the development of gaming mechanics, changes in funding environments, and the growths of the hobby. Take a listen below to hear each of the designer's thoughts on these issues. WashingCon would like to thank the panelists for participating in this great conversation about the future of the hobby!
Legacy. While Webster’s Dictionary defines legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past,” the work of game designer Rob Daviau has imbued this word with significantly more meaning in the world of tabletop gaming. As the designer and co-designer of hit games such as Pandemic: Legacy, Risk: Legacy, and, more recently, Seafall, Rob has created games that allow players to explore extensive and exciting narratives that directly impact the appearance of games as they move through successive episodes. The fusion between mechanics and narratives has made Pandemic: Legacy the highest rated game on Board Game Geek.
In light of these accomplishments, Rob’s work extends beyond the world of Legacy games. A veteran designer who has designed games for 18 years – 14 with Hasbro – Rob has brought 60 to 80 games to market over his career. In addition to designing games, Rob has also launched Restoration Games, a company that will aim to update and revitalize older tabletop games. Listen to our interview with Rob at WashingCon 2 to hear more about his upcoming work, views on game design, and why his memories of playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid rank among his favorite memories in gaming.
After a hiatus, the WashingCon blog has returned and will be publishing information about WashingCon 3 as well as highlights from last year's convention to get everyone excited about this year's events. Please make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates as the convention draws near.
After taking time off from a great convention, we are excited to announce that we signed the contract with Georgetown University for WashingCon 3! We will host the convention at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center September 9 to 10, 2017. While more details will be forthcoming, we want to announce that:
- We will have all six side conference rooms for both days, meaning we can schedule more events for you next year.
- We will have better food options for WashingCon 3. After receiving feedback from attendees and staff, the conference center will provide sandwiches, drinks, and grab-and-go items in a convenient location close to the main gaming hall.
- We heard you loud and clear and will improve our shuttle service. We will have smaller shuttles running more frequently that will drop people off closer to the main entrance.
Tickets will go on sale in a few months. In addition to announcing ticket sales, we will also announce sponsorships and events over the next few months as well. As always, follow us on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest news and announcements.