I've had the great pleasure of interviewing one of GOBfest's principal organizers: Catrin Berghoff. So here's a little background on the event.
I’ve always liked board games, but as a child and teenager, I just didn’t have anyone to play with. There were certainly gamers around, but I felt like my kind (i.e. a girl) wasn’t welcome in their community. Maybe there were other girls who liked to play too - I suspect there were - but I never found them, and they never found me. So I sort of forgot about games until I was in University. In fact, I’d been dating my boyfriend for at least six months before we realized we both liked board games.
Who are your fellow convention organizers?
This year, the core is composed of myself, Steve Smith, Jake Troughton, and Chris Samuel. The four of us are all friends in real life, so we have become the de facto organizing committee - to get things done in the first year as non-bureaucratically as possible. We also have a group of POGOB! members who have indicated that they want to be kept in the loop, so we’ve been emailing them - especially back in the early stages of planning - with our ideas and took their suggestions into account. Plus, of course, many people have offered to volunteer for us - moderating games, manning the concession, etc. In future years - and hopefully there will be many! - we would like to transition to a more official committee, but that’s all stuff to ruminate about after we pull this one off.
So after 8 years of promoting boardgames in Edmonton through POGOB!, you’ve decided to organize a convention. Why GOBfest and why now?
Well, we are big fans of FallCon to start! Steve & I attended every year we weren’t living out east, and we plan to do so every year in the future. We look forward to the weekend all year long. Even after the first FallCon, I thought, why don’t we have this in Edmonton? And which convention can the poor FallCon organizers and volunteers relax and play at, given how busy they are the event itself? And after a few years of thinking about it, we realized no one else was going to do it. I guess we just decided to step up to the plate. It’s also a bit easier to take a financial risk now that we are all finished University and settled into our careers.
What are your expectations for GOBFest this year?
For this year, our focus is to create a lean, mean, well-oiled fun machine. We are keeping it to one day of gaming, focussing mostly on classic and popular games, and giving out prizes from our sponsors. We want to make our attendees happy so they’ll come back next year.
Any big-assed hairy goals (BHAGs)?
I think you mean big hairy-assed goals... and of course. Obviously, GOBfest wants to become bigger than FallCon. Don’t take it personally - it’s just an Edmonton-Calgary thing. You know, friendly competition, lifelong nemeses, industrial espionage. That sort of thing. Lots of fun for all involved! So, if you don’t help us grow in the first few years it means you’re scared. Yep, I think that’s what I’m trying to say.
What your thoughts so far on the games released in 2013 (since Essen)? Any favorites?
Oh, boy. The shameful truth comes out. While I play games all the time, I never really worry about what’s new and what’s old. The same goes for my clothes, hair cut, and the technology I use. Ask me if I know how to use twitter. Go ahead, just ask (no). But if you want to know which game I’ve felt like playing recently - the answer is Macao. Can’t get enough of that game. And I seldom turn down Robo Rally, Puerto Rico, Agricola (with 3 or fewer players) and LeHavre. And when I feel silly, I play Tales of the Arabian Nights, Cards Against Humanity, and Balderdash. Does that now mean I’m not hip enough to run a game convention? I guess we’ll have to hire someone to help with that next year. You know, once we make the big bucks from running this thing.
Best of luck with GOBfest! I look forward to sharing notes with you after it's all said and done. That should make the corporate espionage all the easier.