KC KantCon Gaming Conference is for playing and selling
Some golf, others paint, but Lawrence’s Nick Seal found his passion elsewhere. An avid gamer, he amassed 1,593 table games.
Board games. Card games. Dice games. Role games. Games inspired by comics. Games featuring wizards. Games featuring knights
“For me, it’s not about collecting, it’s more because I found this hobby very intriguing,” Seal said. “I can come into contact with people on a different level. “
Seal has purchased most of his games from online and local retailers and Kickstarter campaigns, and plays one at least once a week. But gAming conventions are where he can demonstrate the latest games from the publishers and play with new people. This weekend, he will attend KantCon, a three-day table games convention in Overland Park alongside hundreds of other attendees from across the Midwest.
KantCon started in 2009 as a local alternative to Gen Con, the largest table games convention in North America. It has been named KantCon for those who “cannot” attend Gen Con. Seal is currently its Games Director.
“It’s a tabletop convention, so it’s mostly stuff you’d play sitting around a table. Role-playing games, Pathfinders, Dungeons & Dragons, lots of board games, ”said Angela Robertson, communications director for KantCon. “People who bring their game host (them) and teach people how to play.”
Tim Neppel d’Olathe has been present since 2014 and cosplays like Tim the Enchanter, a character from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, wearing a ram’s horn robe and hat and carrying a cane.
“It’s definitely the top level,” he said. “It’s my favorite local convention.”
When Jeremy Hawkins of Kansas City started playing board games in the 1980s, the “Satanic panic”Gave rise to misconceptions about who was playing. Some suspected that the popular fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons – D&D to its fans – had recruited players into satanic cults.
“Everyone thought D&D was some kind of evil thing,” Hawkins said. “It’s not something like that.”
Nowadays, this misconception is no longer a problem. In fact, gamers describe tabletop games as educational, mentally stimulating, and a great way to meet people. But stereotypes persist that the players are all weird, cheesy and masculine.
Hawkins and his friend Jonathan Romp from Excelsior Springs like to poke fun at these tropes in their comics, Geeks & Goblins, which they will sell at this year’s KantCon. The characters include Anna, the only player; Frank, the intrusive creep; and Jim, the game master who tells the story of the game.
“The days when a stereotypical white male nerd was the only type of gamer are definitely behind us,” said Robertson. “Not only are women more vocal about their participation, but there is a sufficient market for games to be truly developed and target women. “
Madison Crabtree, illustrator and designer at Gladstone, agrees.
“Tabletop gaming has experienced such a renaissance over the past two decades and it has become such an inclusive space that only becomes more diverse and welcoming over time,” she said.
Gladstone’s Troy Newhoff has attended several KantCon conventions. He plays games at least twice a month and has a room in his house to hold his 175 games. He enjoys teaching people how to play them and answering their questions while they play.
“Everyone’s got something weird,” he says. “We like to play board games and role-playing games. “
Design a game
When most people think of board games, they think of, for example, monopoly, index or risk. But many contemporary table games surpass the classics in complexity and design.
“Board games have become more and more popular with the advent of crowdfunding, Kickstarter. Lots of smaller publishers or even bigger publishers were able to produce a lot of games, ”Newhoff said.
Troy pichelman is a tabletop game designer in Lee’s Summit who has created games like Pluto Attacks !, Goblin Stole My Chicken, and Conquest of the Stars. He first designs the games on his computer, then uses the business The game creator to generate prototypes.
Pichelman and other designers rely on conventions like KantCon to promote their games. This weekend, Pichelman will be holding a booth at KantCon, where he will showcase his game to potential customers and allow them to demonstrate it.
Small designers like Pichelman find it difficult to compete with the more prolific publishing houses and designers to sell their games in a saturated market. A few lucky designers may sell their game to a publisher, but companies are only looking for specific types.
“These days, because the market has an incredible amount of stuff, if you sell 100 games, you’ve done right,” Pichelman said. “If you sell 1,000, you have total success. ”
Pichelman usually starts by ordering 20 copies of his games for sale. Its most popular, Pluto Attacks !, has sold almost 100 copies. Participants take on the role of high school students trying to save a small town in Kansas from alien invaders.
Success means more than just designing a great game, he said. It takes timing, luck and having the right audience at the right time.
“If you go into this because you want to make money, that will be a really big disappointment,” Pichelman said, adding, “98% of the people I know as designers have real jobs.”
Crabtree spent five years illustrating the game That’s A Wrap! with game designer Adam Sadiq. In the game, participants take on the role of directors who try to make the highest-grossing and award-winning film.
The creators launched a Kickstarter campaign four years after it started, but it hasn’t hit its fundraising goal.
It’s not uncommon – about two out of three Kickstarter campaigns for board games fail to hit their mark, Pichelman said.
For his second campaign for That’s A Wrap !, Sadiq went to conventions to promote it and hired a marketing director. The campaign was successful; the game has now received $ 12,176 from 290 backers – mostly from the United States, but also New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, and others – and is now on the market. It can be purchased at boardgamegeek.com.
“My favorite part was at the very end of it all,” Crabtree said. “The Kickstarter had been funded, I was just getting this box in the mail, getting all the tangible results in hand. It turned out to be incredible.
Find a community
Last year, the pandemic prevented enthusiasts from meeting regularly and caused the cancellation of conventions like KantCon. Some have resorted to sites like Roll20 and Discord.
“It hit hard,” Romp said. “Everyone has isolated themselves. Me and my friends normally met once a week. Now we can’t risk getting together, so we had to develop new ways of playing.
Robertson and the other organizers predicted that fewer people would attend this year’s convention due to the pandemic, but pre-registration figures suggest they will have more attendees than in 2019. Newhoff said events qu ‘he organizes are almost complete.
For the rest of the year, players find other ways to play. In 2019, Stéphane Burrows moved to Lee’s Summit and converted his unfinished basement into a play area, where he and his wife Now organize play days with friends and acquaintances every Saturday from noon to 1 a.m. People can show up and leave at any time, but most, he said, stay all the time.
“Some of these people I first met are having play days,” Burrows said. “All of my events are free, just bring something to share. “
At KantCon, Seal is eager to try new games, enter sweepstakes to win games offered by publishers, and connect with other players. Maybe this weekend he’ll take his total game collection to 1,600.
“I don’t care if I win or lose most of the time,” he said. “I love connecting with people and the challenge that the game itself presents.”
Interested in KantCon?
KantCon will take place July 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and July 18 from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6100 College Blvd. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Tickets cost $ 45 for the three days: $ 18 for Friday or Sunday and $ 23 for Saturday. Tickets are half price for children ages 8 to 15 and free for ages 7 and under. They can be purchased at the door. More information is available at kantcon.com.