Though summer is generally considered the height of convention season, fall too provides some great opportunities for game events in the United States.

Several run through the upcoming weekend. Perhaps the biggest, certainly the most elaborate, is Play Fair, a consumer toy and game show Saturday and Sunday in New York City. At Play Fair, families will find demonstrations, activities, and character appearances from some of the largest brands. Look for a world-record slime, drone races, life-sized games, virtual-reality opportunities, and more. Tickets are generally $30 per person for a 4 hour session but a discount code (“TOYASSOCEMP5“) shared with us by the Toy Association will give you $5 off per ticket.

EuroQuest, an event put on by the Games Club of Maryland, begins Wednesday in Pikesville (just outside Baltimore). Featuring board game tournaments and an active and friendly open game room, EuroQuest is also a good place to catch some of the hot releases from Essen Spiel on this side of the Atlantic.

Gamehole Con, Thursday through Sunday (November 2-5) in Madison, Wisconsin, hosts nearly 2,000 scheduled events covering all types of tabletop games, including the live action True Dungeon.

Also starting Thursday (in Morristown, New Jersey), Metatopia is a convention for game designers, with scheduled playtests, seminars, and panel discussions. Gamers who haven’t yet been hit with the design bug are also welcome, to help with playtesting.

Friday through Sunday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is Fall-In, which focuses on historical miniatures gaming. There’ll be tournaments and scheduled games for a wide range of periods and systems. Also, dozens of classes on painting and terrain-making.

Another war game-focused event follows the next weekend, Friday-Sunday (November 10-12). That is the San Diego Historical Games Convention, where in addition to open gaming and scheduled miniatures, attendees have access to a number of play-with-the-designer events, a large game raffle, and free table space in the flea market.

Con on the Cob takes place the following weekend (November 9-12) in Richfield, Ohio. This one includes all types of analog games, along with a healthy dose of art, music and comedy performances, cosplay, and partying.

Then just before Thanksgiving we get three major conventions all on the same weekend! BGG.Con November 15-19 in Dallas is sponsored by the Board Game Geek website. Its big draw is a large open gaming room and a library of hot new titles but unfortunately it’s been sold out for a while.

ChiTAG is an event in two parts. There’s the consumer show, the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, Saturday and Sunday (November 18 &19), with many large and small exhibitors welcoming the public to play. There’s also the Chicago Toy & Game Week track of professional conferences and networking events that begin on Thursday (November 16), such as meetings for inventors and educators and the TAGIE Awards Gala. A special part of ChiTAG is the Young Inventor Challenge, a design contest for children ages 6-18. Prizes include over $10,000 in scholarships. For tickets to the consumer show, discounts of 50% are available through Groupon.

Finally, there’s PAX Unplugged November 17-19 in Philadelphia, where you might find me some part of the weekend. PAX Unplugged is a new convention from the organizers of PAX West, PAX East, etc. The series might be described as fandom events but this one is specifically focused on tabletop games. In its first year, it’s already seeing strong support from hobby game publishers. There’ll be a keynote address from the president of Wizards of the Coast, live performance Dungeons & Dragons games (Dice, Camera, Action! and Acquisitions, Inc.), open gaming, vendors, lots of board and card game tournaments, and a variety of panel discussions.

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ChiTAG logoIt’ll be a great weekend of family fun with the Chicago Toy & Game Fair taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Navy Pier. In addition to the exhibitors large and small (Spin Master, Hasbro, Mayfair, Rainbow Loom, Goliath, and many others) a variety of special events are also scheduled, including a Yo-yo contest, the Young Inventor Challenge, a Star Wars Luncheon, and the Rummikub National Championship.

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ChiTAGThis Saturday and Sunday is the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, where among 100 exhibitors and numerous events, members of the family can have fun playing with demonstrations of Goliath Games’ life-sized holograms and Bananagrams’ giant letter tiles, participating in a Star Wars character lunch and a Guinness world record clapping game, or competing in a Top Trumps tournament and the Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest.

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ChiTAGThe Young Inventor Challenge is a youth contest for aspiring toy and game inventors. Working kind of like a science fair, the main event takes place at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, Saturday and Sunday, November 23rd and 24th. The deadline for registration, though, is this coming Monday, November 4th.

All entries must include a working prototype toy or game, as well as a poster display that demonstrates how the product works, describes the invention process that produced the toy or game, and presents a marketing message for persuading people to purchase the invention.

Winners will be chosen by both expert judges and popular vote, with prizes including travel to New York Toy Fair, dinners with toy industry experts, copyright and trademark services from an industry attorney, feature articles in Inventor’s Digest, and distribution to retail outlets (should the winners’ products be manufactured).

But more than that, participation provides youth the opportunity to discuss their ideas, receive critique, and learn about the toy and game business from the many professional inventors, industry representatives, and press who visit the displays. Explains Mary Couzin, founder of the Chicago Toy & Game Fair:

Through The Young Inventor Challenge, we’re helping kids connect with the toy and game industry on an even more personal level, giving them behind-the-scenes exposure to the creative and critical thinking process that goes into toy and game development.

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