The Crafty Players aren’t called crafty just because we like craft beers. We chose the name because it allowed us to encompass many things we enjoy. Craft beer is one of them. Crafting is another, and to prove it, I joined Dublin Maker last weekend for the first time. Dublin Maker is an annual event that has been running for the past 5 years. They describe the day as a “show and tell” experience, where inventors and makers from throughout Ireland can gather in Merrion Square in Dublin for a full day of showing off what they create. I popped along for the day with Board Game Designers Ireland to show off some of our work and to see if we could capture the public imagination.
Dublin Maker is an incredible event: it’s free to attend and the whole event is organised and run by the community. This year the organisers were expecting over 15,000 visitors!. It’s a celebration of people who make and create, a place where you can show off what you do without anyone asking why. I haven’t mentioned it here on the blog before, but I am a member of Board Game Designers Ireland (BGDI), a small group of people who look to design, play test and ultimately publish new and interesting board games. This group is about 14 months old now, and includes new designers like myself, enthusiastic play testers, as well as published designers like Robin David whom we interviewed earlier in the year.
In the run up to the Dublin Maker I had talked to Robin about the possibility of The Crafty Players sponsoring BGDI at the event. This ended up with me getting a bit more involved in the organisation side which somehow culminated with me going on national radio when no one else could! It was my first time on live radio, and if you want to hear it, you can listen to it here. We also helped produce and print some flyers, which I was very happy with. You can have a look at the PDF of our flyer here.
The day itself started early. I arrived at around 9.30am (had to capture a Pokemon gym along the way), but Robin had been there since 8.30am. On a Saturday no less! We set up our small tables and soon other members of the group were turning up in droves. There was a fantastic group of people there all day, including our friends Decking Awesome Games. We were able to set up the tables in such a way that showed how a game can start off as a paper prototype (that was my current design), through the different stages of adding some basic art, through advanced prototyping with higher quality materials, to some of the published games designed by members of the group (Hoshi Battle by Angelo Nikolaou and Multiuniversum by Manuel Correia).
It was incredible. It was often the younger members of the crowd that were attracted by the bright, colourful cards and pieces, but once they came over, the parents became interested in the process too. Many of them wouldn’t have been aware of the process, how much work would go into a design or even that there are people who design board games! We met all sorts, from people who wanted to use board games for education, to those who had played Catan and Ticket to Ride, a few people who had never played a board game beyond Monopoly and even one gentleman who had pitched board game ideas to companies in London 30 years ago!
The best part was we met people who had ideas for games of their own, and seemed interested in joining our merry group of play testers, designers and enthusiasts. One memorable moment for me was when I was talking to someone who asked how do we come up with ideas. After enquiring about their line of work, I asked if they could make a game out of that. I wish I had a recording of their face, as I’ve never seen such an honest, genuine moment of realisation in my life! We’re looking forward to welcoming these people to our meetings in the future.
Of course we weren’t the only stands there. I didn’t get much time who explore too much, but from what I did see the creative scene in Ireland is bustling and alive: the number of hugely creative and talented people bringing their skill and passion to any number of different projects really astounded me. There was even home brew groups who get together every so often to brew beer together. I’ll be keeping an eye on them in future!
Dublin Maker was a thoroughly enjoyable event, and one I was glad to partake in. Seeing as it was BGDI’s first time to join the event it wasn’t perfect, but we have learned some lessons, and we’re already taking steps to make next year as amazing as possible. It’ll be a challenge, but I think it’s one the group is up to, with the passion and enthusiasm displayed on Saturday at Dublin Maker.