If you’ve never heard of Gamex, you’re not alone, but don’t let them deter you from experiencing the next one. Gamex is the smallest of three board game conventions that Strategicon puts on each year. Strategicon being a convention organization that’s been producing board game conventions in Los Angeles since 1977. This past weekend the four day convention brought just over 2600 people to the Hilton Los Angeles Airport location where tabletop play was in full effect 24 hours a day.
Now we’ve attended some major festivals and conventions, but nothing compares to the simplicity and overall vibe that Gamex delivered. The convention was divided over three floors of the hotel. You had your traditional areas like the exhibit hall (known as the Dealer’s Room) and then you had tons of rooms divided by style of game (Board Game, Card Game, Video Game, War Game, etc). There were tournaments of all shapes and sizes, often times featuring first time players. There was a game library and open gaming room where you can check out any game you wanted and make new friends to play it with, from old favorites to games you’ve always wanted to play. And all of this went on continuously from when doors opened Friday at Noon until they closed on Monday afternoon.
What really sold Gamex though was the people. The game masters (aka GMs) were often just volunteers for their favorite board games, who wanted to teach it to more people. Your fellow players were friendly and inviting, less concerned about competition and more eager to just have fun and play. If you attended alone, you left with a new group of friends. If you came with a group, it just became larger at the end. And that’s the real spirit every convention should have: inclusion.
Other highlights included the flea market and auction. The flea market was open each day to any convention goer to purchase space for one hour on a table and sell anything they wanted; games they no longer play or will never play, handmade accessories, etc. So every time you walked by the flea market there were new merchants and tables full of treasures to explore. The auction occurred on Monday with over 200 lots. Convention goers could sell their games by purchasing lots in advance for $2/lot. A lot could be a combination of games or just one, and often times they were brand new games still in their original shrink wrap. Bidding started at $3 and many great bargains were made. Plus it was just a super entertaining thing to watch as the Gamex auctioneers Alfonso and Nick were highly entertaining and very insightful about each product (even more encouraging on games they knew nothing about).
This may have been High Voltage’s first Strategicon event, but it won’t be our last.
Psst, our favorite board game discovery of the weekend: Anachrony. Even just this photo (see below) of the beautiful set up makes it look intriguing!