Sean and Marlis of The Nerdd were able to attend TimpCon this year, a board game convention in Provo, Utah. The event took place on October 18 & 19 at the Utah Valley Convention Center, and was run by a team led by Kevin Carter. This was the second event TimpCon has been able to make, and it seems like they are on a great trajectory of growth. Sean was also able to attend last year, and wrote an article here on the event, as well as another article sponsored by them here.
Last year, TimpCon sold approximately 220 tickets, and this year they were able to reach 300, which was their goal. While this is much smaller than many other conventions around the state, they made smart choices to fit the audience size that they believed they could achieve. Instead of trying to throw the biggest convention around, and missing their mark, they new what they were doing, made smart goals, and made sure that those that attended the event had a great time. While their social media presence is still growing, it seems the biggest way people heard about the event was word-of-mouth.
The past two years, the convention has not put on any panels, due in part because of their small attendance size, as well as the fact it’s hard to time out when board games will end in order to get to events at the right time. However, this year they did bring in special guest Stephen Box from Vanguard Tactics in England who taught a Warhammer 40K Masterclass as a sort of mini-panel, which had separate tickets.
Compared to other gaming conventions we’ve attended, one thing we noticed was how child-friendly the event was. That’s not to say other events aren’t great for children, but it truly feels like this is a place for families to come and play games together, games they won’t have at home, because the game library at the event had roughly 2,000 different board games.
There were several game companies in attendance, trying to spread awarness of new games, whether these are established companies like Havenhurst Press betatesting their new game Run!, or a new Kickstarter that was fully funded briefly before the event called Furball. There were also local game stores Game Grid Lehi and Paragon City Games, and MyCon, another local game convention, who were there and supplied some of the 2,000 games in the library.
There weren’t many vendors in attendance, only nine total, but they seemed to prefer the smaller audience. At larger conventions there are higher costs for selling, therefore the stress is higher to sell. However, at smaller conventions where you don’t have to pay as much to get in the door, you are able to calm down a bit, and actually chat more with the attendees. As we asked convention vendors in our article Con Artists, the feel and atmosphere of a convention often times plays a bigger part in a vendors attendance than financial return on investment. There were a few vendors that returned from last year, and said that though the convention itself is focused more on board games than TtRPGs, it seems like people are more willing to buy merchandise related to mini-figurines than the games they are actually playing at the event.
The convention center itself is in a great location, right in the heart of downtown Provo, with a small cafe onsite, as well as several affordable sandwich, sushi, or pizza joints within half a mile. It is within a short drive of two different four-year universities, Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. There is plenty of free street parking nearby, and the venue itself is clean, well-lit, and overall well-kept.
If you want to get involved next year, you can get free weekend pass for six hours of volunteer work, or purchase tickets at $20/single day or $35/full weekend, free for kids under 8.
Unprecedented success, yet again – and we can’t wait to bring even more in the coming years. We’ve got quite the lineup for 2020, so watch that marketing and get psyched!Kevin Carter
I suggest making a reminder for yourself to attend TimpCon next year, as they continue to grow and put on a great event.