What makes one individual follow what they would like to do in life, while another settles with doing whatever job is convenient? Since officially joining the board game industry in late 2012 with the founding of Happy Mitten, I quickly noticed that the board game industry is driven in large part to the passion and love people in this industry have for board games and the board game community. This week, I got a chance to ask some questions to Chris, Greg, and Phil, founders of Lexington Kentucky’s new gaming convention, “LexiCon.” What motivated the trio to start a game convention and how did they begin this process? – Kyle
Questions from Happy Mitten will be denoted with an “HM.”
HM: If we were transported back to the moment the three of you decided to make LexiCon Gaming Convention a reality, what would that moment look like?
Chris, Greg, and Phil: There was a lot of excitement (boy, we really did not know what we were getting into!!! Ignorance is truly bliss.)
HM: What made the difference between simply thinking about doing LexiCon, and actually doing it?
Chris: I talked with my best friend at the time, Phil, and threw the suggestion out at him. He was very interested in it. So I had a good start, but I knew I needed an expert, someone that I trusted that knew the business. I asked Greg, an acquaintance at the time, now one of my best friends, if he was interested. He jumped all over it. Greg and I are like two kids on Christmas Day, “where is the next present, hurry up, open that one”! Phil is like “ok, slow down, one present at a time”. It is actually a great combination.
HM: A big part of a gaming conventions atmosphere is dependent on the location it’s in. What is the community of Lexington Kentucky like?
Greg: Lexington is a mid size city in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It’s super easy to get around, but Lexington also has a really nice walk-able downtown with excellent restaurants, unique shopping and a variety of entertainment from a restored Cinema Palace (The Kentucky Theatre), an arts center with original plays, and a slew of galleries. But not being a large town you are within an hour of some of nature’s great wonders including the Kentucky Gorge and Natural Bridge. And I believe you will find some horse things around the Bluegrass.
HM: How long did it take you to discover the Clarion Hotel that LexiCon is taking place in? What is really important to the three of you in selecting a location?
Chris: Greg and I really wanted another hotel with a good history and very close to our homes, it was super expensive and really a little smaller then what we have now. I got annoyed, and we checked a couple of things without success. Finally, I made a big list and hit a whole bunch of them on a Sat. morning. I knew if we couldn’t get a good spot, the idea would flounder. When I saw the place (and price) at the Clarion, I knew it was the place. I could not wait to have Phil and Greg see it.
HM: You began getting active on social media to promote LexiCon well before the event itself. Can a convention be successful without doing that?
Chris: I think you have to be strong in several of the following: huge support system, active on social media, very active game shops supporting you, or having a lot of traditional advertising. As far as success goes, ask on May 5th. It is a lot of fun being the Facebook guy.(I really thought that would be anyone but me)
HM: The three of you guys have an incredible dynamic with one another. What are the three of you like in a more personal light and when did you begin realizing you’d be great business partners?
Greg: About the time we realized that we were perfectly willing to have our great ideas shot down without it being personal. Honestly, we have different skill sets and they aren’t even necessarily the ones we thought we had going into this.
Chris: It is interesting, I am in my early 50’s, Greg is early 40’s, Phil is in his early 30’s. It makes for interesting conversations, we all look at problems differently. Greg has major skills with knowing about conventions and hooking up with other people, Phil will see things Greg and I don’t see, like getting us a big sponsor, and I keep moving us forward and making sure we are all talking and moving in the same general direction.
HM: LexiCon is having a cosplay competition and the Settlers of Catan regional championship. Did these events naturally come about or were you guys actively thinking about the events you’d like to have for LexiCon?
Greg: We had an informal list of things we wanted from very early on, though we said all along that we could live without any one of them. After that we just pursued the things that seemed likely to happen and as it turned out more of them than we expected.
Chris: We wanted to do anything that would make it a convention, I don’t think you can have a fun convention without costumes and big events, can you?