by Keith Avallone, PLAAY Games
I remember sitting at Coors Field a couple years ago watching a Rockies game with a group of Denver-area PLAAY Gamers, when the idea of a PLAAY "convention" first came up. Steve Heller made the suggestion, and Jason Retallack chimed in, "you could call it 'PLAAY-Dot-CON!" We couldn't have imagined then what great fun and wonderful experiences lay ahead! The 2018 convention was amazing, but PLAAY-Dot-CON 2019 was even better! THANKS to everyone who was part of our weekend celebration of the joy of tabletop sports games!
There was so much about the 2019 convention weekend that was memorable and fun. But, I feel like there was one aspect that stood out head-and-shoulders over everything else: to me, the very BEST part about PLAAY-Dot-CON 2019 was--the kids!...
Our mission statement--right there on the front page of the website—is "Preserving and advancing the grand pastime of table-top sports board games!" It hasn't been difficult to "preserve" the fun for those who grew up with sports board games in the '60s, '70s and '80s. The "advancing" part has been more challenging, though. We have made it a priority to try to promote the hobby to younger generations, with the idea of keeping sports board games going for future decades. For the most part, it's been an uphill battle. So it was very exciting when we learned that a good number of PLAAY Gamers' kids were interested in coming to the convention. We decided to seize the opportunity and try to fully integrate the kids into the weekend's activities. Rather than have separate kids 'activities and have maybe one or two "everyone participates" events, we did it the OTHER way—we scheduled just ONE "kid's event" and ALL the other activities were open to kids and adults alike.
This wasn't an easy decision to make, and I confess I was a bit nervous about it. I knew that having kids at the con put a burden of sorts on the grown-ups. Would they be willing to assume a dual role as both competitor and mentor? Would they get enjoyment out of playing a baseball or football game against someone several decades younger? Would the kids take it "seriously" enough? Would they get bored?
But as the weekend began, it quickly became clear that having kids at the convention, fully integrated into the program, was the very BEST thing that could possibly have happened. It's difficult to describe the energy and enthusiasm they brought to the room. I found that having kids around, watching them play the games, reminded me of the joy I experienced in discovering the hobby myself at that same age. I think most every one of the grown-ups at the convention shared that same feeling. And, the grown-ups were awesome as mentors and guides--I should have known this group of guys would come through with flying colors. The kids had a GREAT time, and it made us grown-ups feel younger and more alive to interact with them. A true "win-win," amazing. I hope you'll get a sense of this as you go through the photo book we've prepared to capture and commemorate this wonderful weekend.
To recap and commemorate the "Four Days of PLAAY," we've prepared two downloadable files. The first file is a PLAAY-Dot-CON 2019 photo book, which is a collection of photos from the event along with (very) brief narrative. I think most folks in the hobby will enjoy paging through this photo book, highly recommended. For those who are interested in the tournament results--who won what, with which teams, and how--we've prepared a second file, a PLAAY-Dot-CON 2019 Event Recap PDF document that includes a detailed, written summary of the entire weekend.
We've already been asked if there's going to be a PLAAY-Dot-CON 2020--it's too soon to be 100% sure, but we are leaning toward doing it again. Watch for an announcement sometime this fall, with an "early bird" discount opportunity happening probably before Christmas.
Once again, thanks to everyone who made PLAAY-Dot-CON 2019 such a success! We appreciate you SO much!