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Links: Entering SPIEL '19, Translating Rules, and Rediscovering The Genius

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• For SPIEL '19, convention organizer Friedhelm Merz Verlag plans to have the East Entrance of the Messe Essen convention structure open for the first time in years (thanks to the long-term renovations that are apparently nearing an end), with "3,000 additional cloakrooms and many cashiers" in this part of the building. Notes Merz Verlag: "This will be the main entrance for visitors who buy their tickets on site."

The South Entrance will also have a few ticket counters as in years past, while the West Entrance will be accessible solely by those who have pre-sale tickets.

Merz Verlag estimates that SPIEL '19 will feature approx. 1,200 exhibitors from 53 countries in its 86,000 m² of exhibition space, which is 6,000 m² more than in 2018 thanks to the entirety of Hall 5 being used. Find BGG there at 5-J122!

• This video is nearly four years old, but I hadn't seen it until recently, so perhaps it will be new to you as well. The subject of the video is British philologist and Assyriologist Irving Finkel, who works in the Department of the Middle East in the British Museum.

As Finkel explains in this video, he specializes in translating cuneiform inscriptions and he translated the previously unknown rules for The Royal Game of Ur, a design that had obsessed him in his youth. Based on this presentation, Finkel should be granted a lecture series to talk about whatever he wants!

• In mid-August 2019 in Publishers Weekly, Nicole Audrey Spector wrote about how comic book publishers have both become involved — and stayed distant — from the board game industry. An excerpt:

[Charlie Chu, v-p of creative and business development at Oni Press,] reemphasized that the point of making these games isn't to make loads of cash on the games themselves: "The big angle is less about looking to make a ton of money on the gaming side and more about creating brand extensions and providing marketing for the books themselves. It's meant to drive awareness and sales on the comics publishing side."

If an IP isn't a massively popular franchise (or looking like it will be one), then the game of making games gets tougher, bringing publishers to a crucial question: how many fans does a series need before it becomes viable as a game? For IDW Games, which publishes both creator-owned and licensed tabletop games, the answer is at least 5,000 prospective buyers.

"We're shooting for a minimum of 5,000 units that we need to move into the marketplace," says IDW's [Jerry Bennington, IDW v-p, new product development]. "It doesn't matter whether it's a small- or big-box game — though in the case of big games, which can be pretty expensive, you need to sell at least 5,000 units just to recoup costs."
• I thought that I had posted about The Genius in this space, but apparently I only tweeted about it in December 2016. Sorry!

For those who haven't experienced it, The Genius is a Korean reality show based on simple games and lots of negotiation. The show ran for four seasons, and it's brilliant. The set-up is familiar from other reality shows — get a lot of people together, give them challenges, eliminate one person each show until one person is left and declared the winner — but The Genius uses simple, modern games to determine the winner of each show, games with clear rules yet lots of room for personal interaction, negotiation, intentional misunderstanding, and back-stabbing.

What's more, the production of the show is enticing and a step above the formula seen on most reality shows. The YouTube channel "Just Write" featured the show in a June 2019 video titled "The Incredible Storytelling Of South Korean Reality TV", and it served as a reminder to talk about this show once again — or the first time, as it may be. In case you need convincing, here's that episode of "Just Write", which gives lots of nice detail on the show's production:

Or you can just dive into episode 1 of season 1:

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