It’s tricky to organise a games convention. You need to get the infrastructure right and enable everyone watching or playing to have a good time.
Darius Twyman, co-founder of the All Around the Board games club, has built UnCon up bigger and better with each iteration and 4.0 was looking pretty damn professional.
Full disclosure; I went to UnCon 3.0 earlier in the year and while there was a lot going on, I had some issues regarding inclusivity to non-club members and a slightly random feel to the area and I felt awful writing about it, as it had huge potential.
I am really happy that Darius is that rare person- an organiser willing to adapt and change his event and UnCon 4.0 was streets ahead of its predecessor. E-ticketing was slick on the door; having your name on your lanyarded ticket was handy, hosts were easily spottable and were chatty and engaging. Exactly what you want when you’re at a con alone and know nobody in the parent club. Their attitude put me right at ease and I felt happy mooching around checking out the facilities 🙂
There were rooms set aside for bring your own (or borrow one) board games, another where you could play on a VR setup and a game library.
Let’s talk a moment about the lending library; stacked high on multiple tables, covering all levels of complexity and ages, the range was genuinely impressive. The host manning the tables was happy to let people have a look at the games and the simple method of “leave the lid behind” ensured the honor system worked without fuss. A great level of knowledge of the games in the stacks and enough table space to have a proper look-see was welcome and a breath of fresh air, so well-played there.
In the main area there were numerous tables setup with demos, Kickstarter contenders and exhibition games. The cafe-style “players Wanted” and “Hosts Wanted” signs are a great idea and smoothed the way to put together instant games. I mentioned the easily readable named tickets were handy; there’s something about being able to refer to total strangers around the games table by name without the horror of introductions and having to remember 4 people at a throw that makes things easier. You hurdle the awkwardness and start chatting as the game brings you together 🙂
I haven’t even touched on the games retailers, onsite catering and the mobile escape room outside (very cool). UnCon 4.0 was a leap in organisation and inclusivity.
This deserves to keep growing; bring on UnCon 5.0.
NB: I paid for my own ticket and no money has changed hands over this review 🙂