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PLAY: The Game Festival

A Report by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

 

Once upon a time I was just a gamer, a great and lucky gamer, who used to attend conventions and events with the only aim being to play as many games as possible, win as many tournaments as possible, and have fun. I won the RoboRally Italian National Tournament 5 times in 6 years, 2 Ave Caesar Italian National Tournaments and 2 Dungeon Twister National Tournaments. Than, in the early ModCon era, back in the end of the last century, I evolved into a game-spammer, bringing something like 30-40 boxes from my personal library at the con and explaining rules to hundreds of people … still time for some nice gaming but not as much as before. These were the years of Puerto Rico and Carcassonne, when German Games were slowly spreading. Than I finally evolved into my actual form: convention organizer. I’m not so sure it is a real evolution since now I spend most of the time with journalists, authorities or fixing problems. No time to play games in a convention where thousands peoples are actually playing games!

play2Here is my report on PLAY: The Games Festival, the greatest Italian gamers event that brings to Modena more than 18,000 visitors. This was the second edition but the history is really much longer. It started in the early ’80s as the National Gamers Convention, travelling year after year from town to town. Starting in 1999, the convention settled in Modena with the name of ModCon. Organized by club TreEmme, tha greatest and oldest Italian gamers association in 2007, the convention attracted almost 5,000 visitors, totally filling the spaces of Polisportva Sacca which created a demand for a new location. With the name of PLAY: The Games Festival, the National Gamers Convention started a new era in the Modena exhibition hall.

The first edition, in 2008, was a success with more than 10,000 visitors, almost doubling 2007 ModCon results, with an event appealing to both gamers and occasional players and families. The 2010 convention was a great success with more than 18,000 visitors and more than 130 game events. Almost all Italian publishers attended PLAY with new releases and events as well as some foreign publishers. PLAY: The Games Festival was able to satisfy both gamers looking for hardcore events and tournaments and family and casual players looking for a gateway into the gaming world. With more than 100 table dedicated to free-boardgaming, more than 500 to demos and a great Game library, PLAY was also the ideal place for gamers. Despite the fact that the main exhibition hall was dedicated to boardgames, PLAY covered all kinds of games, from RPGs to Miniatures games, passing from Live and Collectable Card Games or Videogames.

In my role of Coordinator and Head of Program in the months before the event, I tried to involve as many associations as possible, from big national groups to small gamers associations devoted to a single game, since that was the heart of the National Gamers Convention. Gamers Alliance Report readers are mainly boardgamers so I’ll focus my report on the Boardgame area.

Just entering the main hall you ran across the 19 tables dedicated to the 10 games of the Ludoteca Ideale. Ludoteca Ideale is an yearly selection of the best 10 games produced by Italian publishers with Italian rules. In 2009 the games were: Ad Astra (NG International), Dominion (Stupor Mundi), Gonzaga (dV Giochi), Horse Fever (Cranio Creations), Puerto Rico (Stratelibri/New Media Publishing), Race for the Galaxy (Games in Italy), Stone Age (Stupor Mundi), Strada Romana (Games in Italy), Super Farmer (Red Glove) and Vasco da Gama (What’s your Game?). 16 demonstrators worked tirelessly for two days scoring something like 300 games played involving more than 1200 visitors. Almost all the games demonstrated in the Ludoteca Ideale tables were sold-out during PLAY!

Just beyond these displays, you were met with 30 tables with 35 ready-to-play games. The 28 demonstrators were able to score something like 570 games played involving more than 2200 gamers during PLAY. The selection of games was made with the aim to be able to catch the attention of casual players and families. Easy games, with easy rules: easy to teach and easy to play … the ideal gateway to boardgame world!

play3“Ludoteca Ideale” and “Gioco Pronto” were really able to seat a lot of family and casual players. All around there were free tables for free gaming with a game library with more than 300 games! That was the place for real gamers looking for more complex and uncommon games including Through the Ages, Twillight imperium, ASL and so on. There was also a self-publishers area with designers showing and selling their own creations: more than 30 designers and a lot of new games.

Of course publishers made also the best of the convention with a lot of demo tables (demo tables are no-cost for publishers in PLAY! since the saying is “Enter, sit and PLAY!”) with a lot of new releases. NG International presented Magestorm and Dakota by Piero Cioni, Letters from White Chapel and Battles of Napoleon: the Eagle and the Lion, Wings of War expansions and also the amazing deluxe edition of War of the Ring. Editrice Giochi presented the new Risk Challange Edition and also Metropoli, from Spartaco Albertarelli. RedGlove presented Jerusalem by Michele Mura (available to preorder at PLAY for a special price!). LEGO attended PLAY with more than 20 demo tables and all of their 10 new games including Ramses Pyramid, designed by Reiner Knizia who also attended PLAY contributing to the event with meetings and conferences for game designers. On Saturday there was a big “Kniziathon” with the support of publishers with Knizia games in catalogue. Also designer Friedemann Friese (Power Grid) attended PLAY. On Saturday, Francesco Moser, the greatest Italian biker, participated to the first Italian Leader1 Championship . It was a great event and it was really nice having Moser dispense hints to gamers! In all, more than 70 publishers and ships attended PLAY.

Two games in special limited edition were released during PLAY: Moongha Invaders, from Martin Wallace and 1099: Domus Clari Geminiani from Francesco Berardi. I hope to be able to describe these games in details over the next GA REPORT issues. Moongha Invaders was published in a special 350 copy edition during PLAY for gamers attending the event, This is a real Martin Wallace design but with a special science-fiction theme and really great graphics. (There are still some copies available from Club TreEmme (info@treemme.org). 1099: Domus Claru Geminiani is an easy card game set in the years of the construction of Modena Cathedral; easy to teach and easy to play but quite nice with special attention to the history and the architecture of the cathedral.

PLAY was really a nice experience for gamers and we really hope it could become, in the future, an attraction for gamers the world over. The event covered more than 15,000 square metres with games events in two days of full immersion. The next edition will be 2-3 April 2011.

 


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