GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Charles R. Wood Theater’s reopening for events last year was a breath of fresh air, after those doors had been long kept closed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, theater and live music have graced the downtown theater’s doors again. This coming weekend, it will welcome back a different type of community – one built on character sheets, rule books, and plenty of dice.
On Saturday, tabletop gaming convention Adirondacon is bringing its spring seasonal event, ADK Tabletop Day, back to Glens Falls. It’s one of two events that a local group has brought into existence over the last few years, to give the area’s gaming community a much-needed public home.
“I think sometimes it’s nice to just get out and do something you enjoy with people who share the same hobby,” said Veronica Hamilton, one of the convention’s co-creators and organizers. “Starting a gaming group and attending game nights is a way to get out of the house, share a hobby, step away from the screens and sit down and play games with old and new friends and acquaintances. While we’re social, we try to keep things light and the focus is on the games, not all the negativity around us.”
For those who need such a space to step away, sit down, and enter a whole new world, ADK Tabletop Day 2022 is there to help. Saturday’s event features volunteers who will lead sessions in different role-playing and tabletop games. The full host of offerings includes everything from more traditional board games to pen-and-dice tabletop games, from more familiar fare like “Dungeons & Dragons” to newer and more obscure offerings.
There’s also an onsite library of 300-500 games that any attendees can pick up, set up and get playing at their own pace. It’s true that some people might hear the term “tabletop gaming” and not realize that it doesn’t just mean the kinds of games families might be used to – but at events like these, even those who only know “Monopoly” and “Mouse Trap” may find some new horizons.
“We’ve been asked before if we have people who play ‘Pinochle’ or ‘Scrabble’ or ‘Monopoly,’ or games like that, and we might not, but we probably have a similar game that they may enjoy even more if they’re up for learning something new,” said Hamilton. “And as for families, we have a great selection of games that you can play with younger players that are more than random ‘roll-and-move’ games. You don’t have to keep playing ‘Chutes and Ladders’ and ‘Candyland,’ or at least you can add more games that may be more enjoyable to older siblings and parents.”
It’s important, too, to create a space where anyone at any skill level can feel free to try something they haven’t before. Hamilton ties that mission back to one of the original goals she and her friends, John and Christy LeMaire, had when first getting together to form the group. They wanted to create a support system for local gamers and game designers.
“At the time, John was working on designing a game himself, and while we all enjoyed the game, we needed to extend the circle of playtesters,” Hamilton explained. “So we looked for places to meet up with people, and went to some local game stores, and somehow it evolved into starting our own gaming group. I had tried reaching out to a few local groups, but some of them met at people’s houses, and I just didn’t feel comfortable going to a stranger’s home.”
The trio first gathered a group together to game in 2016 with Adirondack Tabletop Gamers and Game Developers, a meetup.com group (later migrated to Facebook) that helped them to attract what became a loyal group of gaming enthusiasts. They gathered at coffee shops, restaurants and the downtown Hudson Falls Domino’s to keep the games going in public gathering spaces, seen as more comfortable for newcomers.
Once that group had played together for about a year, they tried to play games for a full day in 2017 on International Tabletop Day – which, at the time, was held in April. The problem was, they couldn’t find a single venue, outside of someone’s home, that would let them carry on for more than a handful of hours. That struggle was part of what led to the creation of the first Adirondacon gaming convention, which was held at the Glens Falls Elks Lodge that October, before later moving to the Wood. The following spring, the group decided to create the kind of space they had been left wanting for the previous year.
“We figured since we hopped all around the last International Tabletop Day, we’d try doing another event to coincide with the day where we could just stay put and play, and so we started ADK Tabletop Day in 2018,” Hamilton said. “The International Day ended up moving to June, but with so much going on in the area, we decided to keep our day close to April.”
This weekend’s event is the smaller of Adirondacon’s annual pair, but creating that gathering space is as important as ever. Over the last five years, some game designers have visited ADK Tabletop Day, Adirondacon, or the group’s weekly tabletop nights who have then gone on to get bigger projects crowdfunded on websites like Kickstarter.
Like any indoor event, COVID-19 put a stop to the fun for some time. In 2021, the fall Adirondacon event was downsized from a full weekend to a single day. Hamilton says events, since restrictions lifted, have seen fewer attendees. Some people celebrate health and safety restrictions, but others don’t, or are too fearful of exposure to come and play. This year, Charles R. Wood Theater has lifted all requirements for masks and proof of vaccination, and the hope is that the numbers will rise again in tow.
Doors open at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, April 9. Tickets are $15 per person, or $12 for students and veterans with valid ID. ADK Tabletop Day 2022 is sponsored by Rutland, Vermont-based Two Ravens Games, as well as Coopers Cave Games & Paintball in South Glens Falls, and Whitehall-based comic and game shop Freakopolis Geekery. This fall, Adirondacon will be back for its fifth year of gaming community-building.