Today kicks off Gen Con — the largest board game convention in North America.
This year, some 60,000 plus attendees will gather to design, publish, and, most importantly, play thousands of newly launched tabletop games.
The popularity of the convention paints a picture of an expanding industry. According to ICv2, a market research firm, the board game market is set to become a billion-dollar industry in the coming months. Big box retailers are carrying once obscure publications next to popular picks such as Scrabble, Operation, and Stratego. Indeed, gaming has come a long way since your grandfather’s worn copy of Monopoly.
Technology, instead of undermining old-fashioned tokens and pawns, is actually providing tangible games new platforms to flourish. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter are making board game releases easier and more accessible than ever.
In advance of Gen Con, guest host Patt Morrison checked in with “The Big Bang Theory” actor Wil Wheaton, who also hosts a web-based board game-themed show called “TableTop.”
He told AirTalk his top titles in gaming and recommended a favorite spot to play here in the Southland.
Wil Wheaton’s top tabletop games:
Pandemic: “[It’s} introduced this idea this idea of ‘we’re all playing against the game itself.’”
Dead of Winter: “One person is secretly working against everyone else in the game. It’s kind of a zombie horror survival game with a really heavy theme.”
Fury of Dracula: “One player is Dracula, and the other players are trying to find him.”
Misspent Youth: “An amazing role playing game…that we featured on ‘TableTop’ this upcoming season that I’m really excited about.”
On where to play in Southern California:
There is a wonderful boardgaming cafe in Glendale called Game Häus. When you walk in, you can grab a stand like you would see at a big banquet hall, and you can put a little sign in it that will say, “I’m looking for one player, two players, three players. I’m willing to teach a game. I want to learn a game. I want to play a strategy game. I want to play a minis game.” You put it at a table, and that way people who might be a little awkward or a little shy or not know who to go talk to can use that as an icebreaker to find people to sit down and play games with.
Gen Con runs through Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Wil Wheaton, actor and host of Tabletop, a popular web series on all things board games; he tweets at @wilw