2012 BPA Survey Results—Overall
Jan. 12, 2013

Practically nothing in this survey surprised me. Instead of changing my preconceived notions, it reinforced them. Although we had some respondents who had never been to WBC and others with an ax to grind, for the most part respondents tended to be on board with how we do things and what we offer. That 96% approval rate mentioned earlier feels good in retrospect but I’m enough of a realist to know that the “fix” was in. This survey, like all surveys, had its inherent bias simply because those most likely to respond were those who liked the concept enough to attend in the first place. The same survey given to a thousand random gamers experiencing the convention for the first time no doubt would have been less favorable. For that matter, it would be interesting to see the variation if we had gotten 100% of the 2012 attendees to respond instead of just 31%. Would the less motivated 69% have been as favorable? I doubt it, but we’ll never know.

What You’d Like to See… What You Want Not to Change How I See It…
De-emphasis Winning 3: Deemphasize winning, and reemphasize tournament (and Open Gaming) play. I find it most interesting that we have hundreds of plaque winners, and only one Sportsman of the Year. As a GM, I have struggled with the competitiveness of players to win what, a plaque of wood? I like winning, too, but I much more prefer the comradeship of playing a good game to the best of my ability. / I feel there is too much emphasis put on winning laurels. This could discourage people from coming who are more interested in gaming for the fun of it. I have witnessed individuals getting very angry if they are not doing well in their tournament. This type of conduct is not going to register very well with people who are more interested in having fun and socializing. Emphasis on Tournament Play 102: Love the broad cross section of games and the mixture of tournament play and Open Gaming. / Love tournament play. Open Gaming is available at many cons, but the tournament format at WBC is special and not to be found anywhere else (at least at this scale). I may be overstating this a little, but I find it thrilling to walk into the Ballroom and see 115 people waiting to be assigned a table for a Ticket to Ride heat! I think what makes WBC so memorable and enjoyable is the size and scope of it all. / While I know a number of people are all about Open Gaming, I do not want to see Open Gaming expanded at the expense of tournaments. / No other gaming convention in the world comes close for me. Most of them (and a few I volunteer for) run ’events’ but they are haphazardly done, disorganized, and winning a game doesn’t feel like anything important. I have had random folks at other conventions leave in the middle of a boardgame Final to run off to costume contests and the like.

The center column pretty much says it all. Since the first token circled a Monopoly board, gaming has been about winning. I see no reason to be ashamed of that and I thoroughly reject the notion that competitive gaming cannot be “fun". As for only one Sportsman of the Year, I find the notion of 500 MVPs or Best Picture of the Year awards pretty silly.

There is always the danger of having too much of a good thing, but tournament play gets short shrift everywhere except WBC. That is what we are known for. Viva la difference!

Paid GMs 1: Paid GMs who would then be subject to strict regulation in how they run events.

More uniformed Volunteers 1: A more explicit volunteer system for activities beyond GMing. My understanding is that WBC is straining under the weight of too few volunteers; There are ways to get involved other than serving as a GM (say, Open Gaming library set-up and take down). Volunteers for such roles may be more abundant if there were a place on the website dedicated to laying out particular volunteer positions/roles and a formal way of signing up for such positions/roles (or at least consolidated contact information for those in charge of specific responsibilities who would organize volunteers for a
particular task- this may be preferable, to keep red tape and logistical responsibility on the convention higher-ups to a minimum).

Reliance on Volunteer GMs 5 The notion of “professional” GMs is different than just subsidizing volunteers with discounts and is an idealistic viewpoint that will never be realized for most of the games at WBC. Unlike bridge or chess tournaments, WBC events are for games with a much smaller following and far more diverse rules. Instead of becoming expert in one game whose rules have not changed for generations, our GMs would have to become expert in dozens of games—all with widely varying systems and ever changing “living” rules. While a few hit games could approach this level of professionalism—Magic; the Gathering comes to mind—for the great majority that degree of professionalism is out of reach. And finding those GMs is only the first step—getting them to subscribe to and obey one standard of conduct would be even more difficult. Lastly, there wouldn’t be much of a market for it. Even now, much of WBC’s tournament structure relies on the concept of organized Open Gaming with players dropping out of events regardless of their success. Boardgaming as a pro sport is not in the cards in the foreseeable future.
More Women 3: Seriously, the ratio of male:female should be 1:1. It’s getting better in that respect, but its still not there. / There is greater age and gender diversification at WBC versus other cons; this feature of WBC should be advertised and expanded. Atmosphere 46: Informal atmosphere is generally excellent—serious but friendly and sportsmanlike in hardcore events, jovial in less serious events. Renewing old friendships and making new ones. / Players generally know the games and are usually tolerant of those less skilled. Most people are courteous and friendly while remaining competitive. / The general feel that the con is by gamers for gamers. Compared to other major conventions I’ve attended, it feels like it’s about playing games rather than buying games, which is very welcome. / I like the atmosphere, and the location lends itself to that. It is a touristy place that is suitable for families. I get that vibe. People bring their kids. The gender ratio of men to women has been slowly shrinking for sometime. Part of that is due to the success of our Juniors program. Part of it is due to the popularity of Euros among the fair sex. Still another part is the variety of events which include a mix of experience levels and more party or social events as opposed to pure strategy games. We have both long and short, simple and incredibly complex events. I expect the trend to more of a family atmosphere to continue in the years ahead.
Up-Scale 1: You don’t ask, but there are problems with this survey. For instance, the game genres are very odd; and there needs to be a wider range of answers on e.g., max room costs (where $400/night is a more reasonable top-end cost, I would guess). Affordability 19: Currently very affordable—allowing me to bring the whole extended family—note: significant increase in hotel price, food costs, etc., would likely reduce number of days I attend. / I’d pay quite a bit more now, but a higher cost may have kept me away from attending in the first place. Guilty as charged. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on polling, but then I’ve neve seen a survey whose bias wasn’t called into question. As for $400 a night rooms, for sure they exist but you would find few takers for them amongst this crowd I suspect. Just check out the response rate at the $200 high end option in the Venue section below.
  Quality Opposition 8: I like the overall high quality of the tournaments. It’s refreshing to go someplace where the vast bulk of the opponents are very experienced. / There is nowhere else I can get the consistent level of friendly competition against smart gamers. I would not want WBC to go too ’casual’. That is what we aspire to and its what gets people to board planes to attend from all over the nation and the world.
  Event Tickets NA 28: Don’t ever go to pre-reg events that require tickets! The ability to just walk into a tournament and compete is priceless. No need to pre-commit and no worry about not fitting other than having a copy of the game. / No nickles & dimes fees/lines everytime you turn around. / Your one-price admission is fantasic and a bargain to boot! I’d pay more to be free of the constant fees extracted elsewhere. It works for us because we’ve kept our costs low. There are tradeoffs that have to be made when you spend the big bucks on modern convention centers. The bills have to be paid.
Capping Attendance 4: I like the idea of capped attendance usage to even out the attendance fluctuation / space issues. / A surtax on weekend only registrations. / Moving the Con will result in the loss of too many faces I come to see. / Limit registration to a number supportable by the location. Open Con 29: Open registration for games and walk ons is crucial to the heritage and culture of the convention. Limited attendance and preregistration concepts need to be avoided. / I like the drop-in format. My family goes all-in, all week; however the drop-in format has let my kids invite some friends for a day or two to try it out. This year, we brought two with us, and I think they will become regulars. The WBC a la carte pricing menu that allows people to attend one day or nine is IMO the best bargain in the hobby. However, it comes at a price—making the conference far less efficient than it could be were it to limit attendance to a predetermined number of attendees that came for the entire conference. Despite those advantages I do not expect the Board to opt for such a change given a reasonable alternative.
  Maintain Open Gaming Opportunities 60: I love the support for Open Gaming. After several hours of playing a single game multiple times in a tournament, I like to be able to just walk around, meet some folks—both new and old, and play a pickup game. If someone is demoing a promising design, and I have a chance to play, all the better./ I love the Open Gaming room where people offer to teach others how to play games they are not familiar with. / Recent years (at least from Thursday on) I believe that Open Gaming space has been almost perfect. I’ve always been able to find some when I wanted to but there never seemed to be an over abundance of space. / I like the balance between tournament events and Open Gaming—attendees really do have the flexibility to make the convention what they want it to be. / Please try to keep the tournaments going without sacrificing the Open Gaming area. / The WBC’s balance between competitive tournaments and Open Gaming is really strong

I like to think we’ve hit a good balance with the facility split between Open Gaming and Tournaments in the current location. The lighting could be improved in the Showroom and we will provide some overflow space by the pool, but we cannot disrupt the program for the entire week because of the influx of weekend daytrippers or AC refugees in Open Gaming.

We will work on improvements to setup but the supply of tables is not infinite. Hopefully, the AC will work this summer and the creek won’t rise.

Longer Hours 1: I suggest having tournaments allowed to go up until 2am (meaning heats can end no later than 2am thus a 1 hr heat can be scheduled for 1am) and heats can start at the earliest 8am instead of 9am. I think the majority of players would rather game than worry about a full nights sleep. Too many games—too little time.   There are certain safety issues on which I will not budge. One is encouraging drivers to stay awake all night and then hit the road the next day for a long trip home with inadequate sleep. People may choose to do so of their own free will but I will not require them to in order to win a tournament.
Better Tables 1: The tables in Lampeter are old and often uneven.   Yes, to maximize table usage we are forced to use pairs of the smaller classroom tables to complete the Lampeter setup. Were we to extend our stay at the Host we would probably purchase more tables for use there. We have already invested $20,000 in table purchases—most of which have gone into the Showroom for Open Gaming.
More Seminars 7: More seminars or other events regarding game design and publication and the business of games. / I greatly enjoy the seminars and the light-hearted fun of Slapshot, and the after action meeting for B-17. / Every year there is at least one seminar that appeals to me; I wouldn’t want to lose them. The relentless focus on gaming over seminars, vendors, demos, etc./ Try as we might, we have been unable to attract many speakers to WBC. To some extent, we are a victim of our own success in that regard; WBC is about gaming and relatively few people seem willing to take time out from that pursuit to take part in seminars. We’ll keep trying to provide alternatives though.
More Demos & More Space for them 13: Both by GMs and publishers of new games. / Allow vendors to run single round tournaments/demonstrations of new games that do not make the WBC cut-off. / Move Demos to Jay’s cafe, or Ballroom A, with followup gaming nearby. / Miss the days when Jay himself kept Cafe Jay hopping. The lack of an actual demonstrator is as important as the tables. / There could be more opportunity for demos, sometimes the GM or volunteer doesn’t have the time to explain or give more than one round of play for the game. Game Demos/Sampler Showcase 23: Nothing else comes close. Here we have volunteer GMs, taking an hour out of their day to teach strangers a game they clearly love. / I want more demos of “hot” games in an organized and scheduled format. / Extend the Sampler Showcase all week. / I also love that I am able to find playtesters for prototypes; the WBC has become a great place to showcase new designs and get player feedback. We’d love to have more demos—both by publishers and enthusiasts, but we are hardpressed to find enough ’splainers to keep the Sampler Showcase running one day—let alone more. Those interested in volunteering their time who do not fancy themselves GMs could participate by showing others how to play a favorite new game at a scheduled time. Just drop us a line.
Move Demos 1: Allow demonstrations to be held in the same room as a game heat immediately prior to the game.   That is a frequent GM request that I almost always reject. While it may be helpful to that GM and his players, it does a disservice to everyone else. First, such vocal gatherings are a distraction to others in the same room and those rooms are seldom setup for the extra space required by a demo with any significant attendance. Second, it defeats the purpose of having all demos in the same space. People would have to check the location of each Demo rather than automatically knowing that a Demo is where the Demos always are. Consequently, there would be an increase in the number of people appearing late for a demo because they went to the wrong room.
Previous   Next
Boardgame Players Association Last updated 1/12/13 by kae.
© Copyright 2013 by the Boardgame Players Association.
Trademarks are property of their respective holders.