By Christopher Helton
Gen Con is coming in a week and a half. Over the last month a lot of things have been filtering through my email about the convention as everyone tries to grab their piece of the attention. One thing that I haven't seen a lot of talk about is the First Exposure Playtest Hall being put on by the Double Exposure folks. First Exposure also runs the Metatopia, Dreamnation and Dexcon gaming conventions.
Just a warning, the websites are ugly and a bit counter-intuitive, but the basic idea is this: First Exposure is an organized playtest system that allows publishers to have their games looked and played at by a wide variety of variety of gamers. The First Exposure hall is open to publishers of role-playing, card and board games and registration information for publishers and interested players is available at the above link. This is the second year for First Exposure at Gen Con.
Sometime, particularly for small press and self-publishing game publishers, it can be difficult to hook into a way to find playtesters who can come at your games cold and see things that your beta groups may miss. Doing playtesting at conventions is a great idea, just because they are larger scale gatherings of gamers. The hall for this is one of the locations that I plan on checking out while at Gen Con, just to get an idea of how this works and how smoothly the operation goes. It looks like it can be an excellent resource for publishers, and a good way for gamers to find out about games that are on the horizon.
There are no costs to the players, according to the website, and you will not have to use your event tickets for the convention in order to take part in First Exposure playtesting. It looks like a good way to find out about some new games and help publishers fine tune them into better games.
The First Exposure Playtest Hall will be in rooms 107-110, by the Gen Con registration area.
Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.
Christopher has a crowdfunding page to help raise money to defray the costs for going to the Gen Con gaming convention and cover it for his Dorkland! blog and Bleeding Cool. Please click here to go to the page and help out.