Board Game Conventions

Famous Board Game Conventions in The World (By Countries)

In a world captivated by digital entertainment, board games have managed to retain their timeless appeal, bringing people together for hours of fun, strategy, and camaraderie. Board game conventions play a crucial role in fostering this sense of community, allowing gamer enthusiasts, designers, authors, artists, and publishers to come together, share their passion, and discover the latest and greatest in tabletop gaming.

In this article, we will explore some of the most famous board game conventions in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and South Korea.

A Quick Comparison

Convention

Location

Year Started

Duration

Attendees

Focus

Notable Features

Gen Con

Indianapolis, USA

1968

4 days

70,000+

General tabletop gaming

Largest tabletop gaming convention in North America

Origins Game Fair

Columbus, USA

1975

5 days

20,000+

Board games, RPGs, miniatures

Emphasis on game industry professionals and creators

PAX Unplugged

Philadelphia, USA

2017

3 days

30,000+

All types of tabletop gaming

Part of the PAX series, focuses on tabletop gaming

Dice Tower Con

Orlando, USA

2012

5 days

3,000+

Board games, social events

Organized by Dice Tower, known for a friendly atmosphere

BGG.CON

Dallas, USA

2005

5 days

3,000+

Board games

Hosted by BoardGameGeek, strong focus on playing games

Spiel Essen

Essen, Germany

1983

4 days

200,000+

Board games, card games, RPGs

The largest board game fairs globally

UK Games Expo

Birmingham, UK

2007

3 days

40,000+

Board games, RPGs, miniatures

Largest hobby games convention in the UK

Festival International des Jeux

Cannes, France

1986

4 days

150,000+

Board games, card games, video games

Features the "As d'Or" awards for outstanding board games

Tokyo Game Market

Tokyo, Japan

2012

2 days

10,000+

Indie board game designers' showcase

Focuses on self-published and indie tabletop games

G-STAR Global Game Exhibition

Busan, South Korea

2005

4 days

250,000+

Video games, board games

Notable for its video game presence alongside board games

Seoul Tabletop Game Festival

Seoul, South Korea

2015

2 days

5,000+

Board games, card games

Focus on fostering the tabletop gaming community in Korea

United States Board Game Conventions

United States Board Game Conventions

1. Gen Con – Indianapolis, Indiana

Gen Con stands tall as the granddaddy of board game conventions in the United States. Hosted annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, this convention traces its roots back to 1968 and has grown into a colossal celebration of tabletop gaming. Gen Con boasts a vast array of events, including tournaments, panels, and a sprawling exhibition hall where designers and publishers unveil their latest creations.

2. Origins Game Fair – Columbus, Ohio

Originating in 1975, the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, has become a cornerstone of the American gaming scene. This convention offers a comprehensive experience, featuring not only board games but also role-playing games, collectible card games, and miniature wargames. Attendees can immerse themselves in a rich tapestry of gaming culture, from exploring new releases to participating in live gaming sessions.

3. PAX Unplugged – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

PAX Unplugged, an extension of the renowned Penny Arcade Expo series, focuses exclusively on tabletop gaming. Held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this convention provides a platform for gamers to engage with a diverse range of tabletop experiences, from board games to tabletop role-playing games. PAX Unplugged has quickly gained popularity since its inception in 2017, embodying the inclusive spirit of the broader PAX events.

4. Dice Tower Con – Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida, hosts the Dice Tower Con, an event organized by the popular board game review site, The Dice Tower. Known for its welcoming atmosphere, this convention caters to both casual and hardcore gamers. Attendees can anticipate a plethora of gaming opportunities, from open gaming tables to special events hosted by board game celebrities.

5. BGG.CON – Dallas, Texas

The BoardGameGeek (BGG) community comes together at BGG.CON in Dallas, Texas. As one of the largest board game databases and communities on the internet, BoardGameGeek attracts enthusiasts from around the world. BGG.CON offers a unique blend of open gaming, tournaments, and an extensive library of board games, making it a must-attend event for those passionate about the hobby.


Germany Board Game Conventions

Germany Board Game Conventions

1. Spiel Essen – Essen

Germany’s Spiel Essen stands out as one of the world’s premier and biggest board game conventions. Held annually in Essen, this event serves as a global stage for publishers and designers to showcase their latest creations. The convention’s expansive exhibition halls are filled with gaming enthusiasts exploring a vast array of board games, card games, and strategy games.

2. Internationale Spieltage SPIEL – Essen

Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, often referred to simply as SPIEL, is another jewel in Essen’s gaming crown. With a history dating back to 1983, SPIEL has consistently attracted a massive international audience. It offers a unique opportunity for players to test out upcoming releases, discover hidden gems, and engage with the global board gaming community.


United Kingdom Board Game Conventions

United Kingdom Board Game Conventions

1. UK Games Expo – Birmingham

The United Kingdom has its own board game extravaganza in the form of the UK Games Expo, held in Birmingham. This convention has witnessed exponential growth since its inception in 2007 and now stands as the UK’s largest tabletop gaming event. The UK Games Expo caters to a diverse audience, featuring board games, role-playing games, miniature wargames, and collectible card games.


France Board Game Conventions

France Board Game Conventions

1. Festival International des Jeux de Cannes – Cannes

Cannes, renowned for its film festival, also plays host to the Festival International des Jeux de Cannes, a celebration of board games that attracts enthusiasts from across Europe. This convention stands out for its glamorous location and diverse program, which includes game demonstrations, tournaments, and a bustling trade fair where designers showcase their latest creations.


Japan Board Game Conventions

Japan Board Game Conventions

1. Tokyo Game Market – Tokyo

Tokyo, a bustling metropolis at the heart of Japan, hosts the Tokyo Game Market, an event that shines a spotlight on the country’s vibrant tabletop gaming scene. This convention stands out for its focus on independent and doujin (self-published) games, providing a platform for designers to showcase their creativity directly to the gaming community.

2. Game Market – Various locations in Japan

Game Market, a roving convention held at various locations in Japan, complements the Tokyo Game Market by bringing tabletop gaming enthusiasts together from different regions. Attendees can explore a diverse range of games, from traditional Japanese titles to innovative creations from independent designers.


South Korea Board Game Conventions

South Korea Board Game Conventions

1. G-STAR Global Game Exhibition – Busan

While not exclusively focused on board games, the G-STAR Global Game Exhibition in Busan, South Korea, is a significant event in the gaming calendar. This expo covers a broad spectrum of gaming, including video games, mobile games, and, of course, tabletop games. It provides a platform for industry professionals, developers, and enthusiasts to converge and celebrate the multifaceted world of gaming.

2. Seoul Tabletop Game Festival – Seoul

The Seoul Tabletop Game Festival brings together tabletop gaming enthusiasts in the vibrant city of Seoul. This convention showcases a diverse range of board games, card games, and role-playing games. With a focus on community building and fostering a love for tabletop gaming, the festival has become a staple for gamers in South Korea.


Conclusion

Whether in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, or South Korea, these events celebrate the rich tapestry of gaming experiences. Each convention offers a unique flavor, reflecting the diversity and passion that define the global board gaming community. As these conventions continue to evolve and grow, they ensure that the spirit of tabletop gaming remains vibrant and resilient on a global scale.

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