This was not my first time attending, but it was my first GenCon as a game designer. In order to break into that side of the convention (which it turns out was not too hard) I participated in the First Exposure Playtest Hall (FEPH), organized by Double Exposure, and the Publisher Speed Dating event organized by James Mathe of Minion Games.
Both events were a huge success, and I would recommend them to other designers. The folks at FEPH did an incredible (seriously incredible) job promoting everyones prototypes and ensuring each designer had a full playtest group that matched their desired demographics. In each round I had a great group of six players who fit Goblin Toboggan and gave me great feedback on both theme and mechanics. The speed dating event also helped me to make connections to 20 different publishers in a short amount of time and provided an opportunity for me to get my sell sheet out into the world. The response to Goblin Toboggan was beyond my expectations. As a new designer I left for GenCon with the expectation that I would learn a few lessons and make a few mistakes; but prepared for a learning experience. As it played out I left feeling that I had been well prepared, and while I brought home lots of new connections and ideas, I did not have a single regret about how I shared Goblin Toboggan.
The most exciting part is that FEPH and Publisher Speed Dating allowed me to meet some great game designers (Luke Laurie, Tom Jolly, Randy Hoyt, and the guys who created Hogger Logger to name a few) as well as making contacts with many incredible game publishing companies. Both groups offered both encouragement and feedback to help me get Goblin Toboggan to the next level. The highlight of the whole convention for me was running a demo for a publisher and group of their designers and fans. The gameplay itself and the feedback session that followed was a priceless experience!
I returned home to the busiest part of my work year, but as that settles down I am diving into next steps. This will include making a few minor tweaks to some of the cards (a process that has already begun), and updating the rulebook to reflect some adjustments that were made during playtesting at GenCon. That will of course be followed by some playtesting and polishing before I will be passing the prototype along to a publisher who has requested the updated version for further review! I am ecstatic about how things are progressing and greatly appreciative of GenCon, Double Exposure, and James Mathe for creating opportunities for me to share Goblin Toboggan, and for helping me get one step closer to publication!