Last weekend marked the 40th annual Simcon, the UR Simulation Gaming Association’s convention of board games and more.
Senior Stephen Watson, the association’s Simcon chair, explained that the term “simulation gaming” is really a “catch-all way to distinguish yourself from video games and other things.”
The convention, which ran from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, featured a game creator panel discussion, vendors, and role-playing games one-shots — that means a full story arc in a three-to-five hour sitting, according to Watson.
The panel discussion featured four different game creators: Jeff Dunlap and Eric Kovatchitch, from Kinsoul Studios, Dan Hundycz, from DPH Games Inc., and Kevin Colagio, of Games Over Coffee. All were there to “playtest” their games. Playtesting is the process of having convention attendees play a game and give feedback to the creators.
The panelists were asked how they would come up with their ideas.
“Our first game just popped up in conversation. We had played a bunch of games, and we were like, ‘Why don’t we make a game?’” Dunlap said. “And then we kinda laughed, but then we were actually like, ‘No, really. We could. People do.’[…] Then we made an idea and just ran with it and three-and-a-half years later, there it was.”
He and Kovatchitch were at the convention playtesting their game “Steepseers,” a game about psychics gathering visions from tea. Hundycz was at Simcon to playtest a nine-card, two-to-four-player, spy game called “Agent 299.” He also told the story behind “Affliction: Salem 1692,” his historically accurate Salem witch trials game.
“The real impetus was there was a game that came out called ‘Salem,’ and the tagline was that you play the good guys hanging the witches. And I kind of went a little ballistic in my head going, ‘That was so not what happened,’ and I just started piecing together that concept.”
The panelists talked about their attitudes toward the work that they do. Colagio, who created a filmmaking-centered game called “Hero Flix” as well as a political game called “Governance,” talked about balancing his life as a creator with his other job as an IT professional.
“I look at my life as game where, if I’m having fun, I’m winning,” he said. Hundycz noted that “The easy part is making a game. The hard part is selling them.”
Vendors included Boldo’s Armory, a local game store, and Black Unicorn Wood, which sells
“fanciful artifacts, from Steampunk jewelry to geek-inspired buttons, all handmade by Midori [Hirtzel-Church, owner].” Hirtzel-Church showed up to the convention in full Steampunk gear, complete with hat and goggles.
But Watson’s involvement was more personal.
“We probably have like 50 to 100 different games here of all different sorts, and when it comes to board game people, we’ll happily play any board game ever.”