Con in a Box - Resources for boardgaming convention directors

This blog is dedicated to helping boardgaming convention directors run successful cons.
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Welcoming diverse gamers

Eric Engelmann
United States
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Congress of Gamers conventions
Eric's actual photo!
Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: I sell board games for moneyMicrobadge: EurogamerMicrobadge: "The mob is the mother of tyrants." —DiogenesMicrobadge: Congress of Gamers attendee
Anyone who has spent time around gatherings of board gamers knows they have their fair share (and more), of quirks, needs, and interesting personalities. Board games may be unique in the way they enable face-to-face social engagement across class, educational, economic, gender, disability, and neurodiversity lines.

Many small con directors are unaware just how many board game players in their area are reluctant to attend a convention out of fear of exclusion, ostracism, harassment, or various emotional challenges.

Let's be clear: A con director has VERY limited abilities to make the world a perfect place, but can make it just a little bit better with just a little effort. That bit of effort may be enough to encourage a stay-at-home gamer to venture out of their comfort zone and attend your con, enriching both their life and your con's bottom line.

So, what practical things can you do?

The most important thing you can do is to make sure everyone who visits your con's web site knows they will be welcome. I'm working on boilerplate and checklists to make this as simple as possible.

For now, here's a draft blurb:

Template text a con director might use:

Board Gaming is an activity everyone can enjoy, and board game conventions are a great opportunity for ALL gamers to get together and play. Gamers who are deaf, color-blind, have dexterity issues, have sensitivities to crowds, noise and some types of lighting are welcome. If you'd like an accommodation you think might be possible, given our very limited labor and budget, send an email to with your need and requests or suggestions. Please don't be shy! Even when we can't help, we'll still appreciate your request.

Check List draft:
1. Is there a quiet area stressed gamers can decompress in?

2. Is there a gaming space with abundant natural light?

3. Which gaming rooms have great light? Which have poor or modest lighting?

4. Are there gaming rooms which are expected to be quieter than others? etc.

5. Distances from handicap spaces to building entrances

6. Is there all gender restroom marked as such? A single occupancy restroom?

7. Are chairs available which are sturdy enough for a VERY heavy, ambulatory gamer?

8. Do restrooms have a handicap stall with grab bar?

9. Is the WiFi good? How is cell phone reception in various parts of the facilities?

10. Service or companion animal restrictions?

11. Are elevators and escalators actually working?

12. Are there any rooms that are NOT wheelchair accessible (due to renovations, etc.)?

13. Which entrances have automatic doors?

14. Will exposure to elements be necessary when moving between activities (exposure to rain between buildings, etc.)

15. Are any lines expected to be outdoors, with exposure to rain, cold, sun?
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