The SXSW Gaming Expo in Austin last week wasn't all about the electronic variety of games. There were also plenty of card, dice, and good old fashioned board games represented.
Though to call them “old fashioned” isn’t exactly a proper description of the current table top gaming trend that’s sweeping the world. There are tons of new, innovative games being introduced continuously and their success is in no small part influenced by the YouTube series Table Top. We got to chat with show producer Boyan Radakovich about the series and its big all-star 1 year anniversary event coming up at the end of March.
GEEK: Tell us about yourself and what you do with Table Top.
I’m Bo Radakovich and I’m the producer on Table Top, a very popular show on Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube, and it’s hosted by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: the Next Generation, Stand By Me, Big Bang Theory).
GEEK: What is Table Top all about? What do you feature on the show?
Basically introductory board games, games that will get people into playing more board games, European board games, lighter strategy games – we do some deeper strategy games, but mostly we try to stay in the gateway category, games that are high luck and high strategy, so that everyone has a chance to play and win. But the show’s really not about playing games; It’s about having fun.
GEEK: Why the recent new-found interest in table top gaming?
I would say there’s definitely a resurgence in board game culture and I think we’re a part of that. Last year you might have noticed in Target there was a feature box on the shelves. In 1700 stores nationwide, you could see a green box with the Geek & Sundry logo. Our games are in there with our stickers. That’s really moving the needle. Whenever we feature new games on the show, they tend to skyrocket in sales in the brick and mortar stores and online. There’s actually a show on NBC… they’re doing a Table Top copy show called Game Night… so we’re breaking through into the mainstream.
People are looking for a deeper connection and people don’t necessarily get that from video games. I think they’re great, they’re fantastic, but there’s a deeper connection that comes from when you’re all together playing games around a table. There’s jokes and things that you just don’t get like you do in that situation. It’s a way for families and friends to get together and bond.
GEEK: What are your favorite board games?
I like deeper strategy board games, but they don’t work well for Table Top just because they’re just too deep in strategy. There’s a formula that the show has to follow. But I’m really passionate about board games and I love introducing people to them. I use all the gateway games like Ticket to Ride, Alhumbra, Settlers of Catan, and all those.
GEEK: Can you tell us about International Table Top Day?
We launched Table Top last year and it’s our 1 year birthday, so we’re having a big party called International Table Top Day. We’re asking everyone to go to their favorite game store, community center, or just host games at home – just play more games! It’s Saturday March 30th and as of now, we have over 1500 events in our database taking place worldwide on that day. It’s going to be a huge event. If you go to your favorite local retailer, you’ll get exclusive promo cards, like Bloom cards, 7 Wonders cards, and things like that. All we ask is that you use the social hashtag #TableTopDay so that we can track it and see that it’s one international event.
GEEK: Where will you guys be celebrating Table Top Day?
We’ll be in Los Angeles hosting 2 live streaming events, so that we have one in the morning for the UK and European crowd. It’s sort of a live Table Top episode. And then we’ll have one in the evening for the Americas. It starts early in Australia, Japan, and China, which is Friday for us, so Table Top Day is an all weekend event.
GEEK: WonderCon is that weekend in Anaheim. Will you be playing there or are you skipping it this year?
We will be at Wondercon for panels and some events there, but we won’t be doing them on Saturday, because we have to have a controlled set. Our set is in Hollywood and we currently have about a dozen celebrities coming over and hanging out, playing games, eating junk food, and making jokes. It’s like a game day. It’s just like your game day, except with a few more celebrities. And live streamed. Just go to tabletopday.com or geekandsundry.com for more information on just who will be participating as we get closer to March 30th.
If you’re into board games, invite all your Muggle friends who aren’t into board games to take part. And if you’re not into board games, give it a try. Go to your local game store, coffee shop, libraries, and just play games. It doesn’t matter what game. All we want is for people to get together, play games, and share the story with us. Take pictures, upload video onto YouTube, post to Twitter… whatever you do, just use the hashtag #TableTopDay so we can see it.