I’m back from my first PAX Unplugged, and while it’s been a few days, I still feel like I haven’t recovered–in a good way. The only other large tabletop convention I’ve attended is Gen Con, and I’ve only been twice. Both times, I felt like the event swallowed and spit me out. Don’t worry, I’m into that. PAX felt similar in the sense that there was so much and it was so crowded, but it also felt more focused and strangely enough, more friendly?
So now that I’m back, Gen Con or PAX Unplugged?
I lean more towards tabletop RPGs over board games these days, and it felt like a lot of the audience at PAX Unplugged felt the same way. Or they at least gave small RPGs a chance. I don’t think Gen Con hates RPGs by any measure, but it felt like the audience was far more interested in learning and playing board games which is totally fair. I also think Gen Con offers more space for board games. I know many folks were struggling to find any place to play games that needed a table.
All this to say, if you’re into tabletop RPGs, and you’re not sure which convention to choose, I think PAX Unplugged might be the better choice. It’s probably more affordable if we’re not counting travel costs.
Keep in mind that I’m more of a seller and networker at these events. I only played one game all weekend, and it was more of a party game.
I won Rising Star: Designer in the Tabletop Awards!
When I found out I was nominated for the Rising Star: Designer award, I already had plans to attend PAX, so I was excited that I’d be at the show in person. Of course, never in a million years did I think I would win.
Which means I didn’t have a speech prepared.
I also have this thing where I’m constantly worried I’m wasting someone’s time, so I rushed off before I could thank everyone I wanted to. So just so it’s out there somewhere…
Thank you to my husband and partner: Joshua! The only reason I’m able to accomplish so much and maintain my mental health is because he goes above and beyond to support me in ways I could never fully explain. I know everyone who meets Josh can see it firsthand: he’s not only my biggest cheerleader but my whole foundation.
I’m also grateful to others in the tabletop space. Many have offered life-changing advice. Many have played or talked about my games in ways that made a significant impact. Big shout outs to Nathan with Reckless Attack, S. Kaiya. J of Mirrorlock, Matthew with Abyssal Brews, Paul of Table Cat Games, J.C. Darcy, Aaron Voigt, J with Planet Arcana, Tony of Plus One Exp, Lin Codega, Sam Leigh and Matt Sanders of The Sealed Library. There are so many others I’m forgetting, but please know that I’m so grateful for your time and/or expertise.
I’ve tried to rationalize what about my projects is worthy of this recognition, and I can only assume it’s because of what I consider my breakout hit of 2022. I believe I won this award because of how different The Sticker Game is. As an audio-drama that asks you to use your stickers in different ways, I think it really surprised folks! Clean Spirit received some recognition as well, but it’s mostly a mash up of Wanderhome and Fiasco–fun but different RPGs.
The other finalists who were up for this award are also incredible: Ash Azeez, DeAngelo Murillo, Fleur Sciortino & Chelsea Sciortino, Fleit Detrik, Lottie and Jack Hazell, Seb Pines, Sinta Posadas, Varnavas Timotheou.
If you would like to know more about the other award winners, check out the Dicebreaker article.
I especially want to call out Fleit (their games here) and Good Luck Press’s Seb Pines. I’ve admired Seb’s work for years and Fleit’s My Mother’s Kitchen is one of the coolest concepts for a solo game.
I finally met Fleit in person at PAX! They’re the person on the left, I’m in the middle and the incredible game designer and musician, J of Planet Arcana, is on the right. We all have games out that use tarot cards! 🙌
Speaking of meeting people, I was lucky enough to meet a lot of my online friends in person. You can find most of the selfies I took at the bottom of this post!
I do want to call out Paul with Table Cat Games! Seeing Paul at the con was a big highlight. He’s someone I met early on in my tabletop RPG career, and he was super encouraging and supportive before my first release ever saw the light of day. He’s planning to launch the Street Wolves Kickstarter in 2024, and I can’t wait. It’s a setting designed for Savage Worlds that features a ton of 80s flavor and unique mechanics. You can see my flip through of the digital edition here, and you can sign up for the Kickstarter here.
Since I was working at the Plus One EXP Booth, I was surrounded by a ton of amazing indie tabletop RPGs. I’m so weak around zines and ended up snagging far too many. Still, even as I was unpacking them, I remembered a few others I didn’t see on the floor but intended to buy at PAX. Oh well. I have a lot of reading ahead of me.
Plus One EXP also launched RPG Zine Club this year which is a cool initiative that helps creators from around the world see their games in print. It’s a subscription service that delivers unique RPG zines to your door monthly while connecting designers with a range of backgrounds to professional layout artists and distribution. If you would like to sign up or learn more, check out RPGZine.club!
I filmed a video of where I give a super brief overview of each tabletop RPG I picked up. It’s less than 5 minutes and you can watch it here!
PAX Unplugged Photo Gallery
If we didn’t get a selfie, I’m sorry! I’m usually always down for selfies so feel free to ask!