Gamers play-test prototypes as competition deadline looms

DickensRight on the outskirts of downtown Calgary hides the Sentry Box, an adventure gaming store that is always bustling, despite boasting items and games many people might consider obsolete.

But those who are avid attendees of the store and its many themed game nights would disagree.

There is even a collective group of board game designers, the Game Artisans of Canada, who meet every Monday to develop and test their creations.

Orin Bishop is one of these local game designers working on a prototype for submission to the Canadian Game Design Awards (CGDA).

Produced by Brent Dufault and Neil Hilts

The deadline for developers to submit their prototype is May 31 and Orin and his friends are play-testing his game, "Steampunk Rally", trying get it as close to perfect as possible before the deadline.

Bishop likes the way the play testing has been going so far, but he insists that "Steampunk Rally" still needs about a dozen more play-tests.

In the 21st century, a time of video games and endless apps, the board game community is still as relevant as ever.

"I actually think the market for board games is expanding right now," Bishop said. "There are more games than ever coming out."

GameArtisansClockwise from bottom left, Joe McDaid, Orin Bishop, Paul Saxberg and Tom Sarsons play-test a prototype ahead of the Canadian Game Design Awards on March 17 at the Sentry Box.

Photo by Neil Hilts
Greg Jackson, a manager at the Sentry Box, says he is happy to have many gamers during every night of the week because it helps build the community and it always has great turnouts.

As for the competition, Bishop likes his chances and the chances that the winner will be local.

"I think Calgary seems to be the biggest competitor," Bishop said. "Calgary has won the last three awards and I think it's partly because we play-test and have a really strong chapter."

There's a $200 Cash Prize from the FallCon Gaming Society on the line, as well as a $500 printing credit with the sponsor, Panda Game Manufacturing, and permission to use the CGDA winner logo.

Finalists for the CDGA will be announced on July 1.The winner will be declared live at FallCon 27 here in Calgary on October 5.

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