An Innocent at Essen

An Innocent at Essen

In 2010 the world's largest tabletop gaming event, Germany's annual Essen Game Fair, overwhelmed our novice correspondent. Prepare for this year's Spiel by seeing where he went wrong.

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As a massive board game geek, it's a life goal to get to the Essen Game Fair. Great read!

I wouldn't exactly say that Board Games are Mainstream here, we have quite a lot of them, that however doesn't mean that alot of people play them regularly. Atleast nobody that I know.

Yeah I agree with Monoochrome there. Most younger people (20ish...) don't really give a crap about tabletop games and rather go drinking or to the movies like everyone else.

I kinda dont know how you drew that conclusion anyway. I mean yeah, most germans you met liked to play games. You met them at a games expo...not exactly representative.

well i have to disagree with Monoochrom. In my family everyone plays boardgames.
There is no birthday in my aunt's house that won't end in trivial pursuit. And i hardly know anyone that doesn't own settlers of catan and Monopoly.
At the club i work we have a monthly gaming evening where supporters of several companies (including Pegasus (stephe jackson), twillight games, Prometheus Games and some other)
at every party i attend, someone is playing something at least once.
I attend the 'Spiel' every year and look forward to do so again.
And i am also always happy to help out with my aid as a translator.
Being it translating for some standowner that doesnt know any german ( we really had that several times) or the other way around when i had some shopowner from london at a testing table.
So if you wanna go and need some help with monolingual clashes, maybe i'm around that day.

Tabletop gamers pissed me off when they told me that MtG and D&D were not tabletop games. I've spent the majority of game time behind tables, some on the floor and a little on the lap, the only valid form of Laptop gaming.

D&D is a complicated thing. If you play it the american way with all those little miniatures and maps and stuff , i guess you can call it a tabletop game. But if you do it in the pure pen and paper style, the term would be missleading.
Tabletop is mainly used by hobbyists for miniature games with strategic value.

somonels:
Tabletop gamers pissed me off when they told me that MtG and D&D were not tabletop games. I've spent the majority of game time behind tables, some on the floor and a little on the lap, the only valid form of Laptop gaming.

They're 'collectible card games' and 'pen & paper role playing games' respectively. However, saying they're not 'table top games' is like saying a Beagle is not a dog.

I've got a closet full of games. I've considered trying to review them on the internets actually... but I've already got two jobs so...

Essen has always sounded overwhelming and more for 'professionals' than anything else.

Germans - ordinary people like your parents and co-workers - are as likely to gather at the living room table and play Knizia 's latest board game. As Tyler Sigman wrote in "Pawn Takes Megabyte,"
Germans see gaming as "a healthy, family-oriented activity suitable for after-dinner entertainment. And 'family' means cross-generational; grandmas through granddaughters can all be expected to play in the same game."

Actually no. Most people I know find board games boring. What you describe there is how the game is advertised...but our mindset is actually similar to the American one. Cinemas are way more important than board games nowadays.

The crowd at Essen was fabulously diverse compared to the typical American game convention. Stereotypical game-geek "fatbeards" made up only a small percentage of the attendance. If gaming hasn't made its way into every niche of German society, it's clearly a lot further toward that condition than it is in America.

(Sorry, posted the same message twice.)

Essen - yes it is large, and smaller exhibitors occasionally aren't able to provide supporters in all the necesary languages.

That said, most larger ones (and definitely all of them once you reach the sizes of Pegasus, Asmodée and similar) will have English-speaking supporters on hand, often when people react "I don't speak English", what they mean is "...and I'll see whether I can find a colleague who does."

@somonels: 'Tabletops' in German are "miniature wargames", e.g. Warhammer Fantasy. Ehus, "Tabletop Games" is a term easily misunderstood by Germans.

Bloodstain:

Germans - ordinary people like your parents and co-workers - are as likely to gather at the living room table and play Knizia 's latest board game. As Tyler Sigman wrote in "Pawn Takes Megabyte,"
Germans see gaming as "a healthy, family-oriented activity suitable for after-dinner entertainment. And 'family' means cross-generational; grandmas through granddaughters can all be expected to play in the same game."

Actually no. Most people I know find board games boring. What you describe there is how the game is advertised...but our mindset is actually similar to the American one. Cinemas are way more important than board games nowadays.

I would be a bit cautious with this kind of judgment. I grew up playing a ton of boardgames with my parents and siblings, my 7-year old nephew has already learned to play a brutal game of Settlers and come next week, me and six of my friends are going to attend the Spiel (fifth time in a row).
Maybe it comes with growing up in a very "old-school" town, but the description of games as "a healthy, family-oriented activity suitable for after-dinner entertainment." seems pretty spot on for me and most people I grew up with.

TheAmazingHobo:

Bloodstain:

Germans - ordinary people like your parents and co-workers - are as likely to gather at the living room table and play Knizia 's latest board game. As Tyler Sigman wrote in "Pawn Takes Megabyte,"
Germans see gaming as "a healthy, family-oriented activity suitable for after-dinner entertainment. And 'family' means cross-generational; grandmas through granddaughters can all be expected to play in the same game."

Actually no. Most people I know find board games boring. What you describe there is how the game is advertised...but our mindset is actually similar to the American one. Cinemas are way more important than board games nowadays.

I would be a bit cautious with this kind of judgment. I grew up playing a ton of boardgames with my parents and siblings, my 7-year old nephew has already learned to play a brutal game of Settlers and come next week, me and six of my friends are going to attend the Spiel (fifth time in a row).
Maybe it comes with growing up in a very "old-school" town, but the description of games as "a healthy, family-oriented activity suitable for after-dinner entertainment." seems pretty spot on for me and most people I grew up with.

As a kid I played them regularly as well, but I know many who didn't. Well, I grew up in Cologne, so maybe it's because I live in a fairly large city.

Bloodstain:

As a kid I played them regularly as well, but I know many who didn't. Well, I grew up in Cologne, so maybe it's because I live in a fairly large city.

I think that might very well be the case.
Come to think of it, none of my friends who are really into brettspiele grew up in anything bigger than, say, Münster.

Roachware:
Essen - yes it is large, and smaller exhibitors occasionally aren't able to provide supporters in all the necesary languages.

That said, most larger ones (and definitely all of them once you reach the sizes of Pegasus, Asmodée and similar) will have English-speaking supporters on hand, often when people react "I don't speak English", what they mean is "...and I'll see whether I can find a colleague who does."

And in my experience, there usually is someone at the table able to translate what the staff is saying, even if the presenter itself only speaks german (I usually end up doing that once or twice every year).

Well, in Germany the sport of baseball is virtually nonexistent. So at least here Magic (which has a huge following) has more than overtaken it ;)

At any rate, I will definitely be there, since it is only a 30 minute drive from where I live (hooray for beeing German :D )
There is only one thing you didn't talk about. Roleplaying. There is even a complete hall dedicated to roleplaying alone. And in the areas between the halls you can see many LARP enthusiasts batteling ;)

Oh and if you have any problems with not beeing able to understand german explanations to a game, just grab any german between the age of 17 and 35. 80% of those speak sufficient english to explain all the rules needed. (since we have to learn it in school for at least 6 yearrs)

One of these days I am going to win the damn lottery jackpot and I'll go on a geek pilgrimage. GenCon, PAX, Comic Con, Essen Game Fair, Comiket - basically any event I deem interesting enough to drag my ass to! If by then they finally finish that Gary Gygax memorial - add that to the list too.

Trust me, you think you felt confused and bumbling? The biggest nerd convention in my country has an attendance of around 1000~2000 people or so.

Well, that's a little disappointing. I've blundered into a chance to actually attend this year, but I didn't realize it was more a marketing expo than a gaming convention. I suppose it's better to adjust my expectations now than to be disappointed when I get there.

 

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