Our Perspective on the PAX Unplugged v BGGcon Controversy

PAX Unplugged 2017 Exhibitor badge

Since it’s just you and me here, can we talk? I mean, a more blunt conversation than we usually have? Cool, let’s chat. We both know that the internet is a Valhalla of sunshine and candy where everyone agrees and we can all hold hands while skipping through the grass, right? HA! Okay, the GuildMaster is not that naive. Sadly, the internet is a viper pit of invective emboldened by anonymity. But we can still have a civil conversation, right? Let’s talk about the recent overlap of PAX Unplugged v BGGcon.

Perspective is Everything

Thus far my missteps in trying to marshal the Guild to life have been relatively small and have not met with much criticism. I credit that to my supernatural luck as well as good communication. However, I was I taken aback last week when I received an e-mail. The writer let me know that they were disappointed that I chose to attend PAX Unplugged. They felt that in so doing I had undermined BGGcon, which they view as a cornerstone of our hobby.

I really appreciate feedback. I can’t get better at this if I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. And I’d much rather have a critique in my face than have people silently leave and I’m left wondering what happened. I have a lot of respect for the person who says, “I take issue with this.” and so I wanted to provide an answer. And I know there are those out there that share this “How dare they?” perspective about PAX Unplugged.  So I thought I’d weigh in on how I got there, and PAX’s decision about that weekend.

The Best Laid Plans…or Not

I never intended to attend either BGGcon or PAX Unplugged. But running a small business is far from clockwork. At times it’s like trying to build your engine and feed your people, all while Cthulhu slowly spirals you into madness. While I’d like to tell you that my map for 2018 is set based on the wild riches and connections made in 2017, that would be a lie. In 2018 many of my decisions will still be made based on what happened in the previous weeks and months. It’s not the way I like to work, but it is the way I have to work until I have the ability to plan farther ahead.

All this is to say that the primary reason I chose to attend PAX Unplugged rather than BGGcon was that by the time I had the ability to make that decision, BGGcon was closed to me (as far as I know). Incidentally, the only reason I attended Essen was due to a random e-mail saying that they had more space. You see, I thought I had my year end planned out, but opportunity knocked, and I had to answer. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Paved with Good Intentions

Now, was it nice for PAX Unplugged to put their convention on the same weekend as BGGcon? No, it was not. I don’t know the people who run PAX Unplugged, but I’m going to assume the best. It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again: this industry has the most amazing people. Very few bad eggs with poor intentions.

Unplugged is far from their first rodeo; the other PAX events are hugely successful. Having run a convention, one of your primary concerns is not stepping on others’ toes. It doesn’t serve anyone. It splits the audience and adds extra stress when all we want to do is make money and have fun gaming.

But sometimes even the best of intentions fail to serve. And I’d be willing to bet that the weekend they chose was probably the only one available, based on many and varied factors. We may never know the actual reason(s), but I think we can further believe they have the best of intentions. PAX Unplugged 2018 dates have been announced, and their next show will be in the beginning of December, a good distance from BGGcon in both time and distance.


So what’s next year look like? It’s hard to be entirely sure, but you can always check out our convention schedule. I am already committed to both Origins and Gen Con, and I have every hope of attending Essen and PAX Unplugged again. Will I be at BGGcon? I’m not sure. And if I am able to make it, I don’t know that it will be as an Exhibitor. Much of that will depend on the Endeavor and Endangered Kickstarters. Regardless, 2018 will be fun and interesting, and we’ll see you there!

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