Concord Gaming Convention: Playing Specialist and Public Speaking

It’s been a busy month for me and my business partner as we prepare to run our first ever Board Game Bud exhibitor stall.

Concord Gaming Convention is a local Bristol gathering of hobby gamers, role players, dungeon masters, and wargamers.

In its fourth year, I sheepishly have to say I didn’t know anything about the expo until the end of last year when the organisers asked me to speak about game design to the attendees. 


🤐 Say what?!

To say I’m an experienced, composed public speaker is a bit of an over-statement. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t even had a face-to-face interview before.

There’s also a lot of assumptions that I have something quality to say. The offer was open to me to talk about anything I wanted – that’s quite a broad topic… anything? 

Being the kind of chap that (sometimes foolishly) doesn’t shy away from these opportunities – even if they make my anxiety have a field day – I bombastically agreed.

After mulling over the vast selection of stuff I could say at my hour-long seminars (yes, plural – I’m doing two of them now), I decided to cover something so deep to my heart that I hopefully can’t screw it up. 

Game design. 

More specifically, the unique experiences I’ve had as a game designer.

The things that I feel have made the difference in propelling this little hobbyist board gamer into a published, contest-winning, company founding game designer.

🐴 Off your high horse…


Humblebrag over – it’s not as difficult as it may seem, especially these days.

It seems like ever since I decided to dip my toes in mechanics, themes, and pushing pieces of cardboard around the table, a plethora of resources have been made available on getting into the industry.

I’m not planning on covering those; just Google ‘How to design a board game‘ and you’ll be fine.

Or do yourself a favour and read through Jamey Stegmaier’s amazing collection of blogs on everything from game design to running a publishing house. 

🎓 Key lessons

What I want to talk about is the two main areas of improvement that can be made with little effort, but huge returns: Community and Constraints.

Both offer inspiration, opportunity, empowerment, and the roadmap to actually finishing your projects (or starting them in the first place). 

And they’re not particularly specific to board games, I discovered upon reflection. They’re just bloody useful tools I’ve stumbled upon that have levelled up my creative pursuit into something rewarding.

The opportunities that have landed on my plate certainly weren’t what I expected, but that uncertainty is part of the fun, I’ve discovered.

📚 Let me tell you a story (or six)

I intend to break these two areas into three stories with accompanying lessons for each one.

I’d say that makes sense – more bite-sized.

Plus it helps make it more manageable for me so that I actually finish it (constraints at work there again). 

Ideally, I’d like to get a blog post out on each story and lesson before the convention, so attendees and non-attendees alike can hopefully find something useful to their specific creative pursuit.

Between a new job, preparing for the convention, and running a board game company, life’s busy at the moment though, so time will tell.

Either way, if one person takes any benefit from the stories I have to tell – I consider that mission successful.

👋 Come say hi!

If you’re in the Bristol area on Saturday 29th February – Sunday 1st March, it would be a privilege to have you there.

Our stall won’t be selling anything; instead, we’re teaming up with Chris Kingsnorth of Nottingham Protospiel notoriety to help people get into the board game industry, design games, and give out some cool prizes.

We’ll also be showcasing some of our original games, including the much anticipated upcoming game; Unbearable.

I’m very excited – it’s an honour to be a speaker there.

Now I’ve just got to get ready…


Until the next time we meet, here’s to another week of tabletop titillation.

– Rob Sparks (@boardgamebud)