Airecon? When did Creaking Shelves start talking about cooling systems? I can hear you wondering. But don’t worry, Aire Con is in fact an annual board game convention, the coolest board game convention. That’s not actually their tag line, but I think we all agree, it should be. Its being held this March (9-11th) in Harrogate. At last! I hear you cry, an excuse to visit Harrogate!
Now, if you’re another of those Londoners, like I am becoming, you might be thinking Harrogate? Where the hell is Harrogate? How would I even get there? Jesus I have to change trains!?
You might be thinking that’s too much effort. It might as well be the other side of the world. But then you’ll realise that Rodney Smith is coming (yes, the Watch It Played guy). And he’s from Canada! Have you seen what Canada is like in March?
You have no excuse now. If seeing Rodney in his full mountie gear is not reason enough to attend, then there are other exciting special guests in attendance too! There’s Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! meaning there is no way you can get through this convention without having a game taught to you. No Pun Included will be carefully curating the jokes. Toucan Play That Game will be flying around. There’s… what’s this? Polyhedron Collider? Oh jeez don’t let that put you off! Look we’ll keep them quietly distracted in a corner somewhere. I’ll be there too! Phew, much better.
But a convention shouldn’t be about getting autographs. It’s about you! And games. And what you’ll get to do with games. Airecon offers much more than your average board game convention. While there will be plenty of space to grab a game with your friends, Airecon also features a full games library so you can try things out.
Even better, there’ll be a retailer and trade hall, like a more accessible UK Games Expo! See the best of the British board game industry and try out games ahead of their release. Test out that Kickstarter title before you back it, or just get a chance to meet the people behind the games. The best thing about this industry is that they are all utterly lovely.
If you want to find out more about Airecon, or pick yourself up some tickets before they sell out, check out the website here.
In the meantime, here are some thoughts from AireCon’s Mark Cooke.
1) How did AireCon come about?
Mark: I had booked a weekend of gaming with a bunch of friends at my house whilst my wife was away on a hen do. I had about 30 people coming over the course of the weekend, so decided to call it a convention. Whilst researching how different conventions had got their name I found out that GenCon is named after Lake Geneva, so started to think of bodies of water near me, and there’s the river Aire running through Leeds, hence AireCon. Between organising that first ever AireCon and it actually happening I’d gone to UKGE, it was the third or fourth one I’d been to I think, and just had an absolutely brilliant time. I said to my friend Ben, this kind of thing should happen more we should make AireCon a proper thing, and he was having similar thoughts.
2) How have you tried to differentiate yourself from other UK conventions?
Mark: Shortly after deciding to make AireCon a proper thing I attended Essen Spiel, whilst I had a great time, and it was amazing to see so many gamers in one place, I had gone by myself and found it very hard to actually play games, and there wasn’t much else to do other than shop. This confirmed that I wanted to make AireCon a convention where people could sit down and actually play games. We wanted to make a convention that was welcoming, where people that came by themselves could be welcomed to join in, and make friends. So we try and make sure there is always a seat for everyone in the open gaming areas and gear our events around fun and bringing people together.
3) What are you proudest of achieving with or through AireCon?
Mark: I have heard some stories already of where people were complete strangers when they turned up for the event, but went away friends and stayed in touch and now meet up at every AireCon. This is why we started it so it’s great that it’s happening! We often take time out during the convention to just stand in the open gaming area and watch people forging friendships (not in a creepy way).
4) Where do you want AireCon to go in the coming years?
Mark: I think we’d like to continue to see growth, but not at the cost of the atmosphere we’ve created of a fun and welcoming event. It feels like we’ve done well to establish the board game side of things, and will continue to invest in that, but would like to increase the presence of roleplaying games. I’d also like to get a second events space up and running at some point so we can get even more fun events going! In terms of location though, we’re not likely to go anywhere, we love it at the Harrogate Convention Centre.
5) Finally, what… is your favourite board game?
Mark: Blue. No Yel…aauuuuugh!
Favourite game is always a hard question because it very much depends on who I’m playing with, Euphoria would definitely be up there, and I think Voyages of Marco Polo will likely be there at some point. I love the Resistance and SpyFall and have had some great times playing them. Ticket to Ride is always fun as well and one I can play with my family.
Thanks for your time!