Prospering at Game Conventions and Conferences

If you've never been to a game convention or conference, the prospect may be daunting. Here's practical advice.
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  • Lectures 22
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 5/2015 English

Course Description

"Game conventions and conferences" is for typical hobby game players and for game designers. Conventions (where people play games, mostly tabletop games) and conferences (where people talk about creating video games) are common and attendance is growing. They vary in size from dozens of attendess to more than 50,000. There's probably one or more within a hundred miles of you.

In this course I talk about what people do at cons and how you can save money when attending, and I describe several specific cons in the southeastern and midwestern USA: GenCon, WBC, Origins, East Coast Game Conference, and PrezCon.

There are no requirements or prerequisites for the course.

This course is likely to slowly grow over time.

Lewis Pulsipher

What are the requirements?

  • No materials, no prequisites

What am I going to get from this course?

  • What people do at cons
  • How to save money going to cons
  • Descriptions of some specific conventions and conferences

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who's thinking about attending a game convention or conference

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: What are we doing (and why)?

Why would you travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to attend a game convention or conference? Here's why.


This class, for your enlightenment (not entertainment), is about game conventions and conferences: what people do there, what game designers (specifically) do there, how to save money.

Section 2: Descriptions of some recent conventions

PrezCon is an annual (20 years) tournament convention in Charlottesville VA in late February.


The ECGC is a relatively new (6 years) annual video game conference in Raleigh, NC in late April.


Description of the grandiosely-titled World Boardgaming Championships, a 30-some tournament-oriented board and card game convention in Pennsylvania. Friendly and relaxed even though many of the players are extremely good at their games. I go every year.


GenCon in Indianapolis is one of the oldest, and the largest, game/multigenre convention in the world (though Essen Spiel in Germany formerly had that title, and ChiTag in Chicago, a toy convention, may be larger). Being there is quite an experience.


This is text, with an obvious subject.


Description of Origins, one of the oldest game conventions, growing out of Avalon Hill, founder of simulation-like wargames.

Now held in Columbus, Ohio in June.


Description of UK Game Expo.  In the bonus material there's a video of cosplay at the con. And another video will show the con, without commentary, but that one will take a while to edit.

Some photos are attached as resources.


Regional game conventions are typically small (200 or less), short (2-3 days). There are also regional "geek" conventions not primarily about games, but with a game segment.

Here I talk about three such conventions in north Florida, Feburary 2016. Video, photos, comments.

Section 3: At the convention or conference

When you're going to a convention or conference, how will you travel, by car or plane? Simple question, simple discussion.


For some people "money is no object," but for most of us, saving money is important. I discuss all those ways that you might spend money going to a con, and where you might save some $$$$.


At big conventions you'll see little booths occupied by newbie publishers, trying to flog their one, or two, or three new games. The next year it will be a different set, as the publishers rarely find that their experience was worth the expense and effort.


Attendance at game conferences and conventions can help game designers in many ways. You can meet publishers, other designers, and fans. Don't be isolated from the hobby at large.


This is entirely a tabletop convention thing.

Last year I spent two weeks away from home attending GenCon and WBC, driving over 1,800 miles.

This is two and a half of the more than six minutes I recorded as the GenCon 2013 cosplayers paraded past. For some people, games are about story (for others, games are "all math" or "all about people"). GenCon is a story-convention as much as a game convention, so cosplay is common as gamers (and others) try to "live" the stories they love.

Cosplay is much less common at smaller conventions.

I'm in the "all about people" camp, and do not understand why people so love to dress up, but they do.

Section 4: Bonus Material
14 pages

Lew's online courses and information sources


This unedited video compilation by Sue Pulsipher shows some of the cosplay related activity at UK Game Expo 2016. 


Why write a book in the 21st century, an era when people rarely read non-fiction books? And why a game design book? Here's why…

21 pages

Brief descriptions of my published and forthcoming games.


What makes my game design book unique, or at least unusual (unique is rare)?

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Instructor Biography

Lewis Pulsipher, Commercially Published Game Designer, College Teacher

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental" ) is the designer of half a dozen commercially published boardgames. His game "Britannia" is described in an Armchair General review "as one of the great titles in the world of games." Britannia was also one of the 100 games highlighted in the book "Hobby Games: the 100 Best". He has over 17,000 classroom hours of teaching experience including teaching video game design and production, and over 20 years of part-time graduate teaching experience.

His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" (McFarland) focuses on practical advice for beginning game designers, about how you actually create and complete game designs. He also contributed to the books "Tabletop: Analog Game Design," "Hobby Games: the 100 Best," "Family Games: the 100 Best." His game design blog has been active since 2004, and he is a contributor and "expert blogger" on Gamasutra, the #1 site for professional video game developers.

His latest published game is the 2011 reissue with additions of "Dragon Rage," originally published in 1982. Three new versions of Britannia, including a 90-120 minute version and a diceless version, are forthcoming, as well as several other games from Worthington Publishing and others. His Viking adventure game "Sea Kings" was published by Worthington in August 2015.

Lew has a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history from Duke University, from ancient days when degrees in media, computer networking, or game design did not exist--nor did IBM PCs. In 2012 he was a speaker at the East Coast Game Conference, PrezCon, Origins Game Fair, and World Boardgaming Championships. Long ago he was contributing editor for White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, and publisher of various game fanzines. In 2013 he was Industry Insider Guest of Honor at GenCon, and in 2014 is again speaker at the ECGC.

Game design blog and teach game design blogs are on blogspot

"Expert blogger", Gamasutra

former contributing editor, White Dwarf, Dragon, Space Gamer, etc.

former publisher, Supernova, Blood and Iron, Sweep of History, etc.

"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." --Mark Twain

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