Game-itoba: Winnipeg board game convention returns

Helping people make a deeper connection with their friends and families, board games are a time-tested tradition, and this weekend Winnipeg hosted a celebration of the classic pastime. @_MorganModjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

It’s a timeless tradition that reunites friends around a table, usually with dice in hand: the board game night.

And Game-itoba is the board game night taken to the next level.

An annual occurrence in Winnipeg – though suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Game-itoba 2023 saw board game afficionados flock to the Bronx Park Community Centre this weekend.

Organizer Kirby Gehman says it’s been a real pleasure seeing gamers embrace face-to-face gaming in a largely digital world.

“There is a real value in sitting down at a table without that digital material,” said Gehman.

“This has been a real celebration right now.”

Manitoba board game convention Game-itoba on Jan. 28, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Morgan Modjeski)

Gehman says it’s been a difficult three years, but he’s thrilled to see the event return.

“We’re really strong this year,” he said. “People have just been desperate to get together; we’re running more games than ever.

“It’s like a dream come true, really.”

Among the hundreds of people passing through the three-day event was Manitoba designer Christopher Penner.

Penner, who created the game “Arcane Dominion,” says it’s a thrill watching people take on adventures he created.

“I’ve always been a daydreamer,” said Penner. “Someone who lives off in a fantasy world. And having these moments where I can bring people into this shared community – into this sense of family – where you’re working together for a common goal…

“It’s a very big difference from a lot of games, where you might be competitive and you’re trying to win against each other. Really when you can work together, it’s the best thing you can do, and Arcane Dominion accomplishes that more than anything else.”

Golden age of board games?

Scott Tackaberry, the owner of GameKnight Games, says board games are getting more popular, evolving significantly since snakes and ladders.

“Games have been on the rise for a number of years,” he said. “The quality of games has really improved. A lot of them have a lot more approachable, balanced mechanics and there’s so many new titles coming out. Like the amount of designers putting out new stuff, it’s ridiculous. It’s awesome, but it’s ridiculous.”

Manitoba board game convention Game-itoba on Jan. 28, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Morgan Modjeski)

Others say the event is a chance to explore a range of games not found in most households – including a giant board game.

“This isn’t something that normally fits on your kitchen table, so this is a chance to do something that you can’t do at home,” said Brian Mitchell, the owner of A Muse N Games. “There’s everything for every possible taste.

“So whether you’re the newest person, and have never played a game, or if you’re somebody who has been playing games for your entire life, there’s something for everyone.”

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